Weakfish Tagging Project
This proposal for a fish tagging project will primarily concentrate on weakfish, but I will also continue to tag other species. Other species will include red drum, black drum, sharks and other species identified by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Marine Gamefish Tagging Program. In addition, data will be collected and analyzed on:
- the efficiency and effect of circle hooks versus 'J' hooks upon catching weakfish and other species and
- species composition caught on nearshore reefs, both artificial and natural.
The overall objective of this project is to tag as many weakfish as possible. This will be dependent on the size of the schools of weakfish that usually arrive on local wrecks and reefs (i.e., Savannah, Fripp Island, Dry Dock, 6HI, etc.) during the months of April through May and again in September through mid-November. In addition to catching, tagging, and recording data on weakfish, the project will also compare catch efficiency of circle hooks versus 'J' hooks for weakfish and other species. Data will be collected on catch (species) composition and abundance at nearshore wrecks and reefs. The timeline for the proposed project is for 12-months with sampling targeted during the late spring and late summer/fall.
The project will focus on catching and tagging weakfish and other species using two types of tackle – circle hooks and 'J' hooks. Natural bait such as live and dead shrimp, mullet, mud minnows, etc. will be utilized as well as artificial baits.
This project will utilize a new type of tagging device called a T-bar tag and gun for tagging weakfish. Often times, anglers will encounter large schools of weakfish that quickly bite any and all bait presented. The traditional dart tag requires more time to insert and can expose the fish to more time out of the water. This new T-bar tag and gun is more efficient when a large school of fish is encountered and harvest happens quickly. This allows the angler to effectively and quickly tag fish in a rapid manner when encountering a hungry school of weakfish. Standard dart tags will be used for tagging other species.
Areas to be fished will include reefs (artificial/natural), inlets, and grassy flats and sandbars located in the nearshore waters of Beaufort County, SC. Data will be collected, recorded, and compiled on,
- Fish length
- Fish weight
- General health/release disposition of fish
- Bait type
- Hook type
- Tide stage
- Water temperature
- Time of year
- Water conditions