Monday, March 19, 2012

That's a wrap!

Capt. Dale Britt calls an end to the 2012 season

Tancred Miller and Kelly O'Neal smile after reeling in a bluefin

Corrie Curtice fights a bluefin while Kelly O'Neal and commercial fisherman David Schalit look on

Danny Coffey practices liphooking on a yellowfin tuna under Alan Scibal's and Robert Schallert's tutelage

Team TAG-A-Giant on board the F/V Sensation (picture by Danielle Waples)

The 2012 North Carolina tagging season has come to a successful conclusion. After 10 days on the water, TAG placed 25 archival tags and 1 conventional tag in 26 bluefin tuna! The weather for the last week was incredible...warm, flat, and fishy! The Gulf Stream was teaming with life...a constant reminder as to why we do what we do! We had fantastic support from local fisherman in both Hatteras and Oregon Inlet, and the Sensation always had an eager angler ready to get in the chair!

It took a phenomenal effort on behalf of the entire team. Capt. Dale Britt and Mate Alan Scibal were extraordinary once again...working tireless days in search of fish. Dr. Andre Boustany led the team for most of the trip repeatedly trying to pass the reins, although it is unclear if he was trying to empower or permanently delegate. There are numerous scientists who worked long hours back at Stanford University programming tags, writing grants, packing, shipping and supporting the tagging operation...many thanks to Dr. Barbara Block, Dr. Steve Wilson, Michael Castleton, and Dr. Randy Kochevar...Monterey Bay Aquarium technician, Danny Coffey, was once again invaluable both in the lab and field. Special thanks to our director, Dr. George Shillinger, who allowed the team to exceed budget and expectations.

We look forward to seeing everyone again for North Carolina 2013...or on the next tagging adventure! If you are interested in joining TAG in the field or joining our mailing list, contact us at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Triple Header Thursday

Common dolphin checks out the boat

Mating manta rays

Leaving the Inlet heading out to the fishing grounds

When it rains it pours...the team headed to the Gulf Stream a little later than normal because of the heavy fog in the morning. We trolled around for a couple hours on a flat calm day...basically water skiing weather...checking out the dolphins (hundreds of them), sharks, whales (humpback, pilot), molas, and mating manta rays. Just when we almost forgot why we were on the water, three of our four lines went tight! Kelly O'Neil, Corrie Curtis and Tancred Miller each grabbed a rod and the three bluefin were brought on board and given archival tags. The team topped the day off with an additional yellowfin and took advantage of the smooth ride back to the dock!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High Pressure

Tancred Miller fights a bluefin tuna

Robbie Schallert liphooks a bluefin tuna

Today was our fourth day in a row on the water and tomorrow will be number the 9 years I have been tagging in North Carolina I have never been on the water more then three days...this high pressure system has been wonderful and it looks like the weather is going to be good through the weekend.

It was hot both in the water (78 degrees) and out of the water (73 degrees), but the bluefin bite cooled down a tad. We did manage to tag one bluefin over 350lbs today and also caught three yellowfins and one wahoo.

The highlight of the day was when Mate Alan Scibal pointed out a blue marlin that spy hopped around the boat. We were visited by hundreds of common and bottlenose dolphins, as well as some pilot whales and a few hammerheads.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reelin for Research

Robert Schallert inserts a tag into a bluefin tuna

Seth Marshall fights an 84 in bluefin tuna

Richard Montana fights an 80 in bluefin tuna

The day started out with a bang...caught and tagged a bluefin over 84 inches right off the bat. The rest of the day we spent looking for the next bite...checking the pods of dolphins or the line of sargassum. Then late in the afternoon we got the second 80 incher tagged and sent out the door.

We were lucky enough to have two experienced anglers with us today...Seth Marshall and Richard Montana...who stuck around an extra day to help in the chair and on the mat. They are both an intracate part of the Reelin' for Research tournament held in Morehead, North Carolina the first weekend in May...this year it will be on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo). The Tournament benefits the N.C. Children's Promise in memory of Richard's father who passed away from cancer. You can check out their website at: It was a pleasure to have these guys on board and to hear their passion for the ocean and for people!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yellowfin kind of day

Johnny Wilson catches a bluefin tuna

Alan Scibal releases another yellowfin

Nice day on the water...Capt. Charles Perry ran the boat hoping to duplicate Thurday's performance. If we were tagging yellowfins...he would have succeeded. We could barely keep our baits in the water before another yellowfin was on us...caught 26 by the end of the day and still managed to tag one bluefin tuna by days end.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tuna Eruption

Brent Brewer poses with his fish, while Robbie Schallert keeps the fish oxygenated during surgery.

Yellowfin tuna quadruple header!!

Robbie Schallert and Andre Boustany tag the 11th bluefin of the day!

Tyler Brewer battles a bluefin, while Dad steers the chair.

Keith Henry fights his first bluefin, while Brent Brewer (right), Mate Alan Scibal (left) and Capt Dale Britt (above) look on.

Maybe the bad weather last week bunched up the bait...or maybe the fish were there all along and not hungry...but whatever it was the tuna were snapping yesterday...and they were snapping early. The skeleton crew of Andre Boustany and Robert Schallert barely had a chance to get ready before Capt. Dale Britt and Mate Alan Scibal had tuna on the line. While one fish was getting tagged and released...another fish was being hooked...this continued for two hours straight. Luckily, we had three experienced anglers (although none of them had ever caught a bluefin) on board cause it was "fish on" all day. Keith Henry jumped in the chair first and alternated fish for fish with his best friend Brent Brewer... occasionally letting Brent's son Tyler get on the reel to feel the power. We tagged nine fish before 10:30am for a total of eleven bluefin on the day. The fish ranged between 180-320 lbs and all received Lotek archival tags. The tags record internal and external water temperature, as well as depth and light level (used to determine Latitude and Longitude).

When the bluefin turned off, the yellowfin turned on...we were routinely covered up by schools the whole afternoon. We caught nine of them and lost another five, along with two mahi mahi. The team was also visited by schools of hammerhead shark and a fully breaching humpback whale.

The weather kept us off the water today...but it looks like Sunday should provide us with another tagging opportunity!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One of those days!!

Beth Gardner fights a bluefin tuna while Ben Best guides the chair.

Alan Scibal wires a bluefin while Katy Davis looks on.

Kevin Gross poses with his bluefin while Robert Schallert and Andre Boustany place a Lotek archival tag in the fish.

Katy Davis reels in a bluefin.

Ben Best shows off one of the green turtles before being released into the Gulf Stream.

It was one of those days on the ocean...flat calm...warm weather...tuna biting...marine mammals everywhere...schools of sharks riding the waves. We tagged three bluefin and caught five more yellowfin. We also released four rehabilitated turtles into the Gulf Stream. We had five guest taggers on board the Sensation...Ben Best (Duke) caught the first fish of TAG 2012 and Katy Davis (Duke) caught the first tagged bluefin of 2012. Kevin Gross and Beth Gardner from NC State each caught and tagged a bluefin. The Sensation crew of Alan Scibal and Dale Britt were once again on top of their game and will lead us on the water again tomorrow!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trivia Champs!!!

Last night the team dominated trivia at Bull McCabe's Irish Pub with intimate knowledge of February 29th specifics...winning some cash for the foundation and a few drinks for morale.

We are still waiting on a window to get back on the are some of the sites we use to make our "go, no-go" decisions.

North Carolina fishing this time of year always presents challenges in terms of consistent weather, but hopefully the high pressure system that is pushing across the country will build and give us a good stretch next week.