Last week Chris and I made an overnight trip into the Everglades to retrieve all of our hydroacoustic receivers to replace the batteries for the up-coming year and download any data they have collected over the last few months. While reserving a campsite at the Park headquarters in Flamingo, we found out that there was only a single other person camping in the entire Everglades National Park that night.
On the first morning we dropped off our camping gear at Joe’s Creek Chickee and headed over to Whitewater Bay, Lane River and North River to pick up a few our receivers before returning to Mud Bay to pick up the rest in the area and move our camping gear up to the Shark River Chickee. Interestingly each of these receivers had a number of hits from various bull sharks that had been tagged in Tarpon Bay and we picked-up a snook that had moved from Tarpon Bay to North River. That afternoon we checked out ‘Tarpon Pond’ and Tarpon Bay for tarpon but did not see any activity. The no-see-ums were incredible so instead of cooking dinner we snacked on leftover lunch food and set up at the ‘Tarpon Highway’ for the evening/night bite. We jumped a few smaller tarpon and ended the night when a large bull shark pulled us around Little Shark River for 20 minutes before finally breaking the line.
Early the next morning (before sunrise) we went out to the mouth of the Shark River and anchored up to try to make some coffee away from the no-see-ums. We had our trusted bomber plugs working in the current when a tarpon hit our line and spilled our first pot of boiling water. When the second tarpon hit I was ready to steady the water and Chris was able to hook the fish up. It was a small 30lb fish, but as part of a new research idea we put an external hydroacoustic tag on the fish using a shortened anchor that is similar to the one we use for our satellite tags. The tarpon swam away healthy and hopefully we will hear from it soon in the hydroacoustic array. After the morning excitement we went back to work finding the rest of our receivers. Within a few hours we had loaded the boat up with receivers and started our long trip home.