Month: December 2018

Costa Rica Marlin

Blue Marlin Biology

Blue Marlin, unlocking the evolutionary secrets of an apex predator.

Most of us are somewhere between infatuated and obsessed with blue marlin, but unless you’re a billfish scientist, you probably don’t understand how these lightning-fast finely honed eating machines are able to swim thousands of miles, populate the vast tropical and subtropical oceans of the entire world, and detect and chase down the fastest, most elusive prey species — and to have done it successfully for literally millions of years. The short answer is incredibly engineered anatomy and physiology.

While all top-level fish hunters realize that detailed knowledge about one’s quarry is the key to finding it, getting the bites and converting them into captures, most lack exposure to many of the cutting-edge scientific advances that can give them an edge. I recently reviewed these during the course of writing a chapter about blue marlin biology and ecology for Capt. Steve Campbell’s outstanding book, Blue Marlin Magic. I was fortunate to interview and work with a number of the top scientists in the field, and the information they graciously shared blew me away.

Blue Marlin Biology

The moment of truth, as a blue marlin is released at the boat. These fish have evolved over millions of years to become one of the ocean’s apex predators.

Austin Coit

The Billfish Evolutionary Tree
Professor John Graves, of Virginia Institute of Marine Science, shared with me results of DNA and morphological analyses he conducted with colleagues. Some of the billfish evolutionary tree we would all have guessed correctly — such as white and striped marlin being closely related, as are the four species of spearfishes. All billfish — marlin, spearfishes and sailfish — belong to the family Istiophoridae, with broadbill swordfish the sole species of the offshoot family Xiphiidae. Now, which billfish species would you guess is the closest genetic relative of blue marlin? I’d have guessed black marlin, but the correct answer is actually sailfish.

My next surprise came in reviewing just how long blues have been around. The branch of the billfish evolutionary tree we know as a blue marlin was sufficiently perfect that they are the most common billfish identified in fossil records dating to the late Miocene epoch. This means they were dominating their environment, worldwide, more than 12 million years ago. Sea levels were much higher than they are today. These fossils have been found scattered in locations as varied as Italy, Virginia, North Carolina, California and Mexico. To put this in perspective, we hadn’t even evolved yet — the closest things to humans roaming the earth were some humanoid apes. So the next time you feel humbled by a lit-up blue crashing your spread, you have every reason to be: They’ve been around for a very long time.

Blue Marlin Biology

The gills of a blue marlin provide oxygen utilizing ram-jet ventilation. It is an incredibly efficient system for long-term endurance as well as for short, speedy bursts.

Will Drost

Satellite Tagging and Open-Ocean Behavior
Research scientist Michael Musyl provided a fascinating look at the incredible capabilities we are learning about blue marlin through pop-up satellite archival tags. Everything these creatures do is finely tuned, and the more we understand, the better we can adapt our techniques to encounter them more often. The continuous data produced by tagged individuals tells us their position, depth and ambient water temperature over considerable periods of time. Interestingly, some of this data only serves to confirm what far-flung artisanal fishermen independently figured out a long time ago. By the time Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea, he was aware that the old Cuban hand-liners would set their baits deep — 300 to 800 feet — and catch blue marlin as well as big yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Meanwhile, Polynesian hand-liners were doing exactly the same thing, using rounded volcanic stones and a special slipknot to sink flying fish and other baits, in which a sharp tug on the line releases the weight. Modern-day swordfish and tuna longliners catch large numbers of blues by fishing dead natural baits much deeper than sport anglers. PSAT results tell us why, and suggest options for thinking outside the box.

Blue Marlin Biology

[A] Eyes: Proportionate to their body size, blue marlin have the largest eyes of any billfish species, comparable to the eyes of a swordfish. Blue marlin also have the ability to heat their eyes using special cells, further increasing their visual acuity even in low-light conditions. [B] Bill: Thought to decrease hydrodynamic drag as well as provide improved feeding capability by stunning its prey, a marlin’s bill is covered with millions of rough denticles. [C] Inner Ear: A blue marlin’s tiny ear bones, or otoliths, can detect sound from long ranges and in a variety of wavelengths. Marlin have exceptional hearing. [D] Lateral Line: The fish’s lateral line uses sensory hair cells to trigger nerve responses and function as hydrodynamic receptors of low-frequency wavelengths emitted within two body lengths of the marlin. This allows them to sense prey and predators at close ranges, even in near-total darkness. [E] Gills: Blue marlin use ram-jet ventilation, pushing seawater past millions of tiny leaflike structures stacked along each gill filament to maximize oxygen extraction. The efficiency of this arrangement is unequalled in the animal kingdom. [F] Jaw: A predentary bone joins the tips of the two lower jawbones, allowing the jaws to open much wider than usually possible without coming apart. This allows blue marlin to consume very large prey, weighing as much as 10 percent of the marlin’s own body weight. [G] Dorsal, Pectoral and Pelvic Fins: With grooves and depressions along the fish’s body, a blue marlin can completely retract these fins for a more streamlined shape as needed. When extended, they give the fish incredible maneuverability. [H] Brain: A huge optic center processes information from the eyes, giving blue marlin excellent vision. They essentially see in black and white as they look down, but in shades of color as they look up toward the ocean’s surface. [I] Tail: A blue marlin’s extended tail lobes can reach water that is undisturbed by the passage of the fish’s body, making them extremely efficient swimmers.

Craig Smith

We now know that blue marlin spend much of their time easing along at 1 to 3 knots in warm, turbulence-mixed water above the thermocline, within a temperature range of 72 to 88 degrees, preferring a range between 75 and 81 degrees. However, during the daytime, they exhibit what Musyl calls a “W-pattern,” frequently diving to depths between 500 and 650 feet, and sometimes as deep as 2,600 feet. Stomach-content analyses show these fish are feeding on squid and deep­water fishes (“stuffing themselves” might be a better description), then surfacing to repay oxygen debts and warm up their muscles. Are island hand-liners and industrial longliners catching blues that are on their way down or perhaps swimming back up from these dives? Are there times and locations where large numbers of blue marlin are present but mostly feeding down near the thermocline? Would sport-fishing operations be far more effective drifting deep baits or presenting something completely different and yet-to-be-designed in the deep, such as large, scented soft plastics? Sometimes research raises more questions than it answers.

Recently, I was offshore of Islamorada, Florida Keys, out near the continental shelf drop-off, aboard my 20-foot SeaCraft. The sea was mirror-calm, and I spotted the dorsal and tapered tail lobe of a 250-pound-or-so blue marlin, motionless and flushed nearly black. We eased over and swam a schoolie mahimahi in front of the fish, which slowly sank out of sight in response. We circled, dropped live and dead baits: nothing. I wonder if it had just surfaced from a deep, cold dive, stuffed with prey, muscles oxygen-deprived, chilled to the bone, just trying to soak in some warm sun. I could almost hear the marlin say, “Are you kidding me?”

Blue Marlin Biology

A marlin’s proportionally enormous eye is heated by special cells in the brain, allowing the fish to process images very rapidly, even in low-light conditions.

Scott Kerrigan /

The Eyes and Ears Have It
Imagine a blue marlin swimming in the cold, inky darkness. How do they effectively sense prey? For one thing, blue marlin have the biggest eyes in the billfish family, comparable to the enormous eyes of broadbill swordfish. Eye size is proportional to the capacity to gather light and other visual information. In addition, blues, like other marlin, swordfish and some sharks, have the ability to heat their brains and eyes using a counter-current exchange method and special warmth-producing cells contained in tissue located at the base of the cranium. The ability to process “frames per second” is proportional to heat, which gives these predators a huge advantage over schools of deeper-dwelling, slower-reacting prey animals that lack this heater organ.

Two other sensory apparatus also aid feeding capabilities: the inner ear and the lateral line system. The inner ear includes tiny otolith bones, which sense linear accelerations like sound waves, gravitational forces and body motion, and a canal system, which responds to angular accelerations of the head. The combination confers the ability to hear and also to orient in space. A marlin’s lateral line system, like the inner ear canals, operates by using sensory hair cells that trigger a nerve signal to the brain. These channels containing them run in networks down the sides of the body, and interestingly, the pattern of the network differs between Atlantic and Indo-Pacific blue marlin populations. They function as hydrodynamic receptors of low-frequency wavelengths from 10 to 200 Hertz being emitted within two body lengths of the marlin, which could come from prey, predators or even inanimate objects such as a fishing lure. It is highly likely that blues use their lateral line system to assist in close-range tracking and attacking of prey or lures. The inner ear system, on the other hand, detects sensations from much greater distances, such as the harmonic patterns in hulls and diesel engines, and sound-making knocks or rattles from a lure.

Blue Marlin Biology

The fish’s lateral line allows it to detect small vibrations at close distances. A marlin can actually feel a dredge moving through the water.

Doug Perrine

Long-Range Marlin Migrations
Both PSAT and conventional tags have provided incredible advances in our knowledge of movements and migrations of blue marlin, and anatomy and physiology studies tell us how they do it. Worldwide, cyclic movement patterns occur in sync with migratory food sources or to prime feeding areas, followed by travel to spawning areas in which prey items may be relatively scarce. It’s interesting that some individuals make large-scale movements, while others might hang around a given area for extended periods of time. One blue tagged off of Delaware was recaptured in the Indian Ocean, near Mauritius. Another moved from the Tasman Sea off southeastern Australia to the Indian Ocean off southeastern India. Another individual tagged near Puerto Rico had its PSAT pop up 120 days later, 4,776 miles away, offshore of Angola, Africa. Others swam from Hawaii to Mexico, and to French Polynesia. Some blues circulate around the Western Pacific, and others between the Coral Sea off of northeastern Australia to the South Pacific islands. And then there are the homebodies, PSAT-tagged blue marlin that stayed in limited areas, such as Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the Kuroshio Current system and the Caribbean Basin, for extended time periods.

What are the secrets that enable these incredible fish to accomplish all of this? Biologist Nick Wegner explained to me that seawater is far more viscous and oxygen-poor than air. Blues utilize ram-jet ventilation of seawater entering the mouth and flowing aft through the millions of tiny, leaflike structures called lamellae stacked in rows along each gill filament. Blood pumps counter-current (or forward, opposite to the water flow) through these highly vascularized structures to maximize oxygen extraction. The efficiency of this arrangement is unequaled in the animal kingdom.

Blue marlin anatomy contributes enormously both to efficient distance swimming and to burst speeds as high as 72 mph. Elongated tail lobes reach undisturbed water beyond the turbulence created by the body. The bill may provide a hydrodynamic advantage, and certainly, the grooves and depressions for folding the dorsal, pectoral and pelvic fins against the marlin’s body help significantly. I can remember so many times gazing down from the tuna tower of assorted boats I was captaining and marveling at the effortless swimming motion of that fusiform body, head relatively motionless as the scythe-like tail swept the body forward. Forty miles a day for these fish on a transoceanic journey? No problem. Explosive bursts exceeding highway speed limits? Easy.

Blue Marlin Biology

Blue marlin are ambush predators, often appearing suddenly from the white water to crash a teaser, lure or bait.

Austin Coit

Marlin Feeding Behavior
We know from assorted studies that blue marlin are flexible, opportunistic feeders. Stomach analyses from around the world often indicate that blues have been feeding on primarily a single species, whatever they are following, or timing their migrations with which to coincide. Documented examples include chub mackerel off southern Portugal, skipjack tuna off southwestern Japan and bullet tuna off the Pacific coast of Mexico. However, the presence of other species indicates flexibility and opportunism, the marlin equivalent of, “Hey, we might be here to eat skipjack and smaller yellowfin, but if we run into a cloud of something else, we won’t turn it down.” Hence, we often find individuals packed with tiny filefish, puffers or triggerfish, or loaded up with deepwater fishes and squid.

Blue Marlin Biology

A powerful tail gives the fish plenty of horsepower for dazzling aerial displays as a pair of remoras hangs on for the ride.

Jessica Haydahl Richardson

I experienced the other end of the scale working as a guide for Nomad Sportfishing, a seaplane fly-in mothership operation in northeastern Australia, where we put to good use the scientific fact that blue and black marlin have the jawbone adaptations and stomach elasticity and size to consume prey up to 10 percent of their body weight. We targeted school yellowfin, narrow-barred mackerel, and dogtooth tuna from 8 to 50 pounds for both live- and dead-rigged baits, and did not shy away from baits on the larger end of the scale. We regularly slow-trolled live yellowfin weighing 40 pounds and more, and had them slammed by huge fish. We also did things like drill longitudinal holes through full-size Boone Lu Lu teasers and rig them with 400-pound stainless-steel cable and a 12/0 single Mustad 7692 to form what was in effect a giant fat version of a cedar plug. They got crushed even by smaller blues, particularly around the sunken reefs and atolls out in the Coral Sea, such as Kenn, Wreck and Frederick reefs. And, of course, we all know how much those big Hawaiian blues like shortbill spearfis

How do they do it? One key element is a cap, called the predentary bone, that joins the tips of the two lower jawbones. Unique to billfish, this bone allows the jaws to open much wider than otherwise possible without coming apart. We observed big marlin flashing in and attacking whole live tuna, open-mouthed, like predators without bills. The hits were so hard that the bait would have to be stunned just from contact with the jaws. Nonetheless, there were also instances of marlin firing in and drilling the baits in the head with their bills. Campbell actually has a video of one such incident that occurred in Tonga.

Blue Marlin Biology

From below, a marlin would see these rigged ballyhoo in shades of violet, blue and green.

Austin Coit

Color Schemes and Vision
Scientist Kerstin Fritsches, a leading authority on vision in billfish, enlightened me about key aspects of the way blue marlin see their world. The ability to detect, track and capture often very fast and elusive prey items contributes heavily to their evolutionary success. Blue marlin have eye muscles essentially identical to those of humans, which allow them to swivel and focus multidirectionally, yet their eyes are located on the sides of their head, so their vision is less binocular. They track items more often one eye at a time, and they possess high flicker fusion frequency, which means they can process a very fast rate of frames per second.

Perception of specific different colors requires the possession of a pigment, housed in a rod or cone, which is stimulated by the specific wavelength of the color, and this signal transmits to the giant optic lobes of the marlin brain. This has all been examined and tested with fresh eyes from specimens brought to the dock. The bottom line is that blue marlin see essentially in black and white with the dorsal portion of the retina (the portion that looks down, into the darkened depths), and they can see as color mostly shades of violet, blue and green with the ventral part of the retina (the part that looks up into the sunlit layers). Other fish, such as freshwater trout, can see the full color spectrum in a manner similar to humans. This means a blue marlin would see red as black, and various other colors as perhaps shades of gray. They still see them as different shades, but not in the way we humans do. Remember that

they are perfection incarnate in their environment, so whatever they see, and however they see it, is the pinnacle of millions of years of evolution.

About the Author: Capt. Scott Bannerot has worked in professional fishing since 1976. He earned his Coast Guard captain’s license in 1982 and a Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Miami in 1984, and has worked as a charter captain, author and scientist in the Caribbean, Central America, South Pacific and Australia, with home base always in Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

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Fecop Costa Rica and Gray FishTag Update

Gray FishTag Research Symposium 2018

By Gary Graham – Dec 17, 2018

gray fishtag research

Approximately 40 Gray FishTag Research Scientific Advisory Board Members, GFR Marketing Partners, scientists, marine researchers, hotel owners, fleet owners, captains, publishers, members of the press and staff were on hand when Bill Dobbelaer, President of Gray Fishtag Research, Inc., (GFR) opened the 4th Annual Gray FishTag Research Symposium on Dec. 7 at the Lighthouse Point Yacht Club in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

Dobbelaer observed that he was “it was absolutely shocking, the number of folks present,” adding that

“many had traveled thousands of miles from two continents to attend the event.”

Continuing, he briefly introduced each participant, their background and their contribution to GFR: 1 of 3

Samantha Mumford
Moises Mug

Captain John Brownlee, one of the most recent Advisory Board Member as well as a Marketing Partner; Kristen Salazar, who represents Casa Vieja Lodge, Guatemala, the newest Research Center for GFR, and Samantha Mumford, founder of Premium Marine, Quepos, Costa Rica. Moises Mug, from Costa Rica (formerly of FECOP) , who is also on the Advisory Board, was unable to attend.

gray fishtag research

Dobbelaer announced that Carter Takacs of Marina Pez Vela was awarded the 2018 Bill Gray Conservation Award for outstanding achievement advocating for GFR and the ongoing research, as well as for being a true leader in fisheries conservation.

Nick Froelich was awarded the 2018 Top Fish Tagger in the World for tagging over 200 billfish on his charter boat, Double Nickel. Froelich declared that “tagging on his charters allows his clients to become more excited, and more involved, plus they had more respect for the resource.” He and his wife, Brandi, made a commitment to continue their great work by tagging even more fish in 2019.

Other meeting highlights:

Leah Baumwell, the new GFR Director, detailed the tagging statistics from the past year. More than 5,000 fish of 98 different species were tagged in 2018, and there were 133 recoveries from 32 species, many of which were discussed and emphasized in the program.

The following research centers were recognized for their ongoing efforts on behalf of GFR:
Pisces Sportfishing, Marina Pez Vela, Los Sueños, Sunset Marina, Zancudo Lodge, Grand Alaska Lodge, and Aqua World.

• GFR provided the data analysis from two roosterfish funded by Ramiro Ortiz and staff at Marina Pez Vela and one striped marlin funded by Pisces Sportfishing that were deployed with satellite tags during the year.

Kristen Salazar discussed Casa Vieja and their successful program banning all single-use plastic water bottles at both the lodge and their ten-boat fleet which she said had saved an estimated 80,000 plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean in 2018; this was supported by the Costa Del Mar program.
gray fishtag research

• Congratulations from the entire GFR Team to Salazar who recently completed her Executive MBA at the University of Miami in a remarkable 17 months! At her graduation, she observed, “I started … with a 3-week-old Bebe that came to class with me and 23 strangers who thought I was insane. My sanity, patience, family, work, friendships, and intelligence were put to the test and it was one of the most rewarding experiences to date.”

After Baumwell detailed the satellite tag data recovered from the first year of roosterfish tagging, she reviewed some of the proposed work GFR is planning for 2019.

Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing, stressed that sportfishing was not only her family’s livelihood, but the livelihood of many others who depended on the striped marlin recreational fishery in Los Cabos. Fingerbank study review 1 of 14

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She concluded, “There are questions (mentioned in the next to last slide of her presentation) that must be answered. And to that end, Pisces Sportfishing will be funding another satellite tag for GFR research in 2019.

Tracy then described the ongoing, illegal striped marlin harpooning by pangas in Cabo San Lucas Finger Bank area, highlighting Pisces Sportfishing’s response and continuing efforts to prevent the illegal activity in the future.

gray fishtag research

Reports were received from the Sport Fishing sector in regard to commercial fishermen from Todos Santos (45 minutes drive up the Pacific coast from Cabo) capturing and commercializing marlin in the áreas knows as Finger Bank and Golden GateBank (where there is a concentration of these species due to schools of bait and other marine life which billfish feed on) killing them with hand held harpoons.

On the 21st of November of this year (2018), an operation was carried out with logistics set in place by SEMAR, FONMAR, CONAPESCA and PISCES GROUP CABO, where a navy interceptor boat and a Pisces Sportfishing boat participated with observers from FONMAR on board as well as representatives of  Sportfishing.  The result of the operation was the impounding of a 22ft panga with S.C.P.P Punta Lobos on the hull with the name Punta Lobos XLII and with registration number 0304182513-5 and a 115 hp Suzuki outboard motor 4 stroke, two harpoons and three trunks of fish without heads or tails which were fresh marlin giving a total weight of  95.78 lbs. It should be mentioned that more evidence could not be obtained at time of the inspection.

This action took place when the crew of the above mentioned boat, where found chumming with bait known as mackerel, to bring the marlin to the surface, where  harpoons were then used to spear the fish. When the fishermen became aware of the patrol boats presence advancing towards them,they threw the product, consisting of pieces or marlins into the sea, actions confirmed by the observers of  Fonmar and the representatives of Sportfishing. The patrol boat proceeded to do an inspection of the fishing boat, finding 30 pieces of mackerel bait, as well as two hand held harpoons, wrapped in a canvas sheet and blood on the floor of the boat which the fishermen were attempting to clean at the time of the inspection. Immediately a search was made of the nearby área where marlin trunks were found floating, which were secured and the formal report was written up along with the impounding of the fishing boat, motor, product and harpoons which possession and use of is prohibited by law.

Marco Ehrenberg accentuated the need to work with these panga operators to help provide them an alternative source of income.

Travis Moore, Marine Biologist and GFR research scientist, discussed a children’s field trip to a south Florida elementary school where a tagging lesson became a fish-anatomy lesson when they opened a fish for the kids to see inside.

Moore shared with the group how excited the students were to be a part of the activity.

Todd Staley and Marina Marrari, representing “Federacion Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP),” promotes sport fishing in Costa Rica through science and advocacy. They outlined their 2014 victory convincing the Government to increase the no-commercial fishing limit to 45-miles, covering over 200,000 square kilometers. The 2017 analysis of previous bycatch records have shown that it saved 25 tons of what would have been marlin bycatch based on the favorable results thus far. They are proposing increasing the limitations further to include offshore sea mounts in FECOP’s continuing efforts to improve sportfishing in Costa Rica.

Samantha Mumford of Premium Marine pledged to tag in the region beginning with her Pescadora Billfish Championship tournament,

an all-female angler tournament, as well as her pledge to involve more women in fishing.

Don Dingman of Hook the Future & Salt Life echoed the importance of involving women in fishing and then reviewed the need for research on redfish in Northern Florida.

Paul Michele of Navionics and Mike Caruso of The Fisherman Magazine underscored the strong interest in striped bass by anglers in the northeastern United States and agreed to fund two satellite tags for striped bass research. 1 of 3

Luis Basurto, of Aqua World in Cancun,
Dave Bulthuis of Costa Del Mar
Mark Cooper, formerly of the Denver Broncos

Luis Basurto of Aqua World in Cancun, spoke on the importance of expanding tagging in his region and his dedication to creating more of an interest in fishing and conservation in Cancun, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres.

Dave Bulthuis of Costa Del Mar emphasized the importance of GFR and his personal commitment to attracting more Marketing Partners in 2019.

Mark Cooper, formerly of the Denver Broncos, volunteered to become more involved by helping to drive the GFR mission, starting with television exposure and outreach to industry friends.

John Brownlee announced that he joined Maverick at Los Sueños as the General Manager. Later during research project discussions, he brought up the possibility of comparing tagging data of roosterfish to amberjack. The results would be welcomed by the angling community. 1 of 8

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Dick Tanner of CR Primo Fishing Tackle and Will Drost committed to helping fund the Los Sueños, Costa Rica blue marlin study proposed during the meeting.

Zsolt Szekely of Dolphin Electric Reel, Alex Henry of Southernmost Apparel, and Joe Herdering of Shadow Graphics,Also, in attendance Kim UnderwoodOffice Manager Gray Taxidermy, Jonas MasreliezCreative and Marketing Gray Taxidermy and James “Mango” Buckwald – Captains Support that all participated in the conversations and joined GFR expeditions in 2018.

Eric Leech, GFR Advisory Board, spoke about his tagging efforts in the Dominican Republic.

By: JM-Admin Category: Fisheries, Gray FishTag Recoveries, Marine Research
On December 16, 2017 swordfish (Xiphias gladius) was tagged with a Gray FishTag conventional tag (GFR6486). It was caught, tagged and released by angler Anthony DiMare while fishing with Captain Nick Stanczyk aboard the “Broad Minded” charter boat out of Bud’n Mary’s Marina, Islamorada, Florida USA. The group was fishing the waters about 25 miles east of Islamorada. The swordfish was estimated to be 47-inches. (119 cm) Lower Jaw Fork Length (LJFL) and had an approximate weight of 50-pounds. After tagging the fish, Mr. DiMare registered the swordfish using the Gray FishTag Research website ( and decided to name it “Little A.”

On August 11, 2018, 238 days later, the Swordfish was recaptured by NOAA observer McKenzie O’Connor while aboard PLL Vessel “Ellen Jean.

The tag recapture location was approximately 475 miles (764 km) straight line distance north from where the swordfish was originally tagged, in the waters 90 miles ESE of Savannah, Georgia. The measured length of the fish was 55-inches (139 cm) and a weight of 96-pounds (43.5 kg).

Recaptures are important and events such as this one are truly amazing! Not only do recaptures make valuable data available about each species that cannot be learned any other way, but they also provide encouraging incentives to continue tagging fish. The Gray FishTag Research program has been able to exceed their original expectations for fish recapture rates thanks to the hard-working professional fishermen who are on the water day in and day out.

GFR’s multi-species tagging program’s growth is remarkable with new species being tagged in new regions daily. Tags are provided free-of-charge to the collaborating professional fishermen, and the tag data is available to the public at

After hearing the results of 2018, the entire group endorsed the plans on the horizon for the 2019 fiscal year research.

Those plans include:

1. Continuing satellite tagging work on striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas, with funding generously provided by Pisces Sportfishing.
2. Continuing satellite tagging work on roosterfish in Quepos, Costa Rica; funding proposed by Ramiro Ortiz.
3. Beginning a vertical habitat study of swordfish in Florida; Seaguar provided funding for one satellite tag.
4. Beginning a striped bass movement study in the northeastern United States; Navionics has committed to two satellite tags.
5. Beginning a blue marlin FAD/seamount study in Costa Rica out of Los Sueños Research Center. Maverick, Will Drost, and CR Primo Fishing Tackle have committed to supporting this research.

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Costa Rica Fishing Roosterfish

Roosterfish Tournament Results

Inaugural PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament Results


Canada Takes Gold in Inaugural PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament!

crocodile bay resort
Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica is home to an awesome fishing fleet.

With all the excitement of a World Cup soccer match, 37 anglers from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica descended on the Golfo Dulce for the first PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament. The event was hosted by the PanAmerican Delegation, USA Angling, and FECOP, the Costa Rican representative in the PanAmerican Delegation. The inaugural event was held at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica.

The format was Olympic style and the delegation’s purpose is to organize tournaments throughout the Americas. The organization hopes to add sport fishing to the PanAmerican Games, combine with European events and eventually be added as an eligible sport in the International Olympics.

roosterfish tournamentContestants who arrived early to pre-fish experienced great action. Jtodd Tucker, a professional bass fisherman from Georgia, took a rooster estimated at more than 50-pounds the day before. The bite was slightly off, at least by Costa Rican standards, once the actual competition started, however. With the catch and release format each fish scored one point for every inch of length measured from the tip of the head to the fork of the tail. This method was chosen because it is less stressful than weighing the fish and allowed for quicker releases back into the water.

roosterfish tournamentThe Canadian team took a commanding lead early in the two-day event with a total of 147.5 points. Team Mexico was second with 81 points. Day Two saw Mexico win the daily with 201 points, followed by Team USA with 178 points. But Team Canada’s second day tally of 125 points was enough to earn the Gold Medal with an overall total of 272.5 points. Mexico won the Silver Medal with 199 points, just edging out Team USA (198 points) which settled for Bronze.

roosterfish tournament

Two all-female teams (Costa Rica and USA) competed in this first-ever roosterfish event. Neither finished in the top standings yet both showed their male counterparts they are quite capable of competing on this level. The tournament also allowed all the teams to share conservation ideas that will benefit the fisheries in their respective nations.

“We were just a group of friends who thought it would be fun to enter a tournament,” explained Canadian angler Mike Haunton. “And we won! We have already joined the Costa Rican sport fishing and conservation group as well as the Canadian organization and haven’t even left Costa Rica yet.”

PanAmerican tournaments will be held in Canada, Mexico, Panama and again in Costa Rica in 2019. The September Costa Rican event will target tarpon.

For more information, contact:  or



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