Every time one of my fish are recaptured, I am often left with more questions than answers.
I love tagging speckled trout and redfish. For someone who spends a lot of time fishing (and thinking about fishing) tagging is an outlet where I can repurpose my passion and become a better angler. After awhile, filling a cooler gets kinda get old and I find myself wanting more.
I especially wanted more knowledge and experience. Inshore fishing is how I make my living, after all! Not just that, but from what I study about bass fishing (in my humble opinion, bassing is the gold standard) it is apparent we really don’t know a lot about speckled trout and redfish. Bass have literally been studied inside laboratories for decades. Specks and reds? Not so much.
I’ve always tagged a few here and there, but it wasn’t until this tagging season, which began in October 2016, that I ramped up my efforts. Since then, I’ve tagged about 1,300 fish and almost all of them are speckled trout. Every time they leave the boat with that yellow jewelry in their back, they essentially become an information time-bomb:
When they are recaptured I’ll get to know when, where and how much they grew.
Yes, TAG Louisiana is a cooperative program, but let’s not have any delusions here. I don’t think anyone is going to crack the code by tagging a few hundred, or even a few thousand fish. I really don’t know how many fish would need to be tagged in order to discern anything conclusive. I don’t know. I’m not a marine biologist.
However, I do see patterns. Generally, when fish are recaptured it is shortly after being tagged, within a week or so, and not far from where they were. This is not earth-shattering news. What does pique my interest are recaptures like these:
Most trout I tagged in Lake Pontchartrain stayed there and were recaptured either shortly after being tagged or even months later. But these two trout, one 19″ in length and the other estimated at 24″ in length, completely left Lake Pontchartrain for a new scene.
I first learned of her recapture when someone tagged me in the Facebook post of the angler who did it. It’s a small world.
This is her on the day she was tagged. Jamie caught her, I just popped the tag and shot the photo! It was a good day to hit the bridges and you can read the fishing report that I posted. (On a side note, I did just read my fishing report from that day. My ability to fish those bridges has improved greatly since then. I’m very proud of that.)
When so many other specks stayed put, why did she leave? My first guess would be for the spawn. Speckled trout do spawn in deeper passes with stronger current and saltier water.
After that, I cannot be sure. I do know that fish have tails and will swim away. That’s the allure of fishing for me and what keeps me going back for more. Even now I am looking at 100 tags on my desk, ready to be put into the backs of participating speckled trout.
It’s all about the quest for knowledge, to learn, to grow and become better.
Devin is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, entrepreneur and a hardcore inshore angler who enjoys chasing limits of specks and sight fishing redfish.