I just returned from a 7 day trip down to Belize to participate in the 3rd annual Belize River Lodge Tagging Challenge (http://www.belizeriverlodge.com/3rd-annual-tagging-challenge.html). The goal of the week-long event was to conventionally tag bonefish and permit in support of the Bonefish Tarpon Trusts’ efforts to collect information that is directly applicable to the conservation and protection of flats fisheries and habitats (http://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/project-belize/project-belize.html). In addition to conventional tags, I brought 6 satellite tags to place on large migratory tarpon as part of our ongoing mission to better understand their seasonal movements.
The first couple of days were very windy and few boats were able to make it out to the outer islands where bonefish and permit could be found. Instead anglers fished for snook and juvenile tarpon in the Belize and Sibun rivers. Along with two guides, I went out to deeper water channels looking for 100 lb tarpon but the conditions were far from ideal and none were seen.
By the fourth day the winds had laid down and all of the guides and their anglers were back offshore looking for bonefish, permit and tarpon. Over the course of the week, 19 bonefish were caught and tagged along with 2 permit. However, the large tarpon remained elusive. 5 juvenile tarpon were caught and a DNA swap was taken but no fish larger than 70 lbs (minimum size for tagging) was landed. To date we have satellite tagged 10 tarpon in the area but so far we have been unable to place a long term tag on a large migratory fish. We are especially interested where these fish go after they show up in Belize and wonder if they join other tarpon in the Gulf of Mexico.