A pier fish-tagging tournament continued last weekend in Horry County as part of a collaborative project between recreational anglers and biologists with S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The S. C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Cooperative Research Project partnered with participating anglers to help capture, tag and release recreationally important species of fish, such as croaker, spot, weakfish, black drum and whiting. Around 120 anglers participated in the event on the weekend of Nov. 17-18, which was held in Horry County, Saturday at Apache Pier, and Sunday at Springmaid Pier. DNR staff recorded information about each angler’s catch, tagged and released the fish back into the water. The weekend events were a continuation of a similar pier fish-tagging project held in early October.
Both of the fish tagging events have been a great success for DNR coordinators, and around 260 participating anglers have helped to catch, tag and release over 1200 fish during both events. Without the support of the pier operators and the anglers involved in the events, DNR biologists alone would not be able obtain such substantial amounts of information on these particular fish species. Upon recapture, the tagged fish will provide important information, such as direction of migration, migration speed, interstate movements, and growth. Little information exists on movements of these fish from this part of the state. This type of information will help to improve knowledge and understanding about these species, which make up a valuable recreational fishery for the Grand Strand.
Anglers participating in DNR’s tagging event competed to earn coupons for each fish caught, tagged and released by DNR staff and volunteers on-site, which were good towards purchases at each of the pier’s bait and tackle shops. Additionally, the top five participants that tagged the most fish received gift cards to local sporting goods retailers. “This work would not have been possible without the enthusiastic participation and coordination of the Apache and Springmaid pier managers. W really appreciate their cooperation,” said Jason Powers, DNR project team leader.
The top taggers at Apache Pier on Saturday were: 1st place with 26 fish, Wayne Johnson;
2nd place with 23 fish, Brandon West; 3rd place with 19 fish, Tim Bolynn; 4th place with 17 fish Eddie Nicholson; and 5th place with 14 fish, John Easton.
The top taggers at Springmaid Oceanfront Pier on Sunday were: 1st place with 86 fish, George Mark, III; 2nd place with 83 fish, Elizabeth Walker; 3rd place with 79 fish, Chae Wells; 4th place with 76 fish, David Dye; and 5th place with 68 fish, George Walker.
Powers, noted, "On Sunday we released what is believed to be largest t number of spot that has ever tagged in one day in South Carolina. This would not have happened without the support and involvement of the anglers and our volunteers." Over 70% of fish caught, tagged and released off Springmaid Pier on Sunday were spot, 15% were weakfish and 10% were whiting. As a result of the success with the pier-tagging tournaments and cooperation from recreational anglers, DNR hopes to continue offering these types of events.
DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.