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Feature Article: Gray FishTag

Groundbreaking Research: Electronic tags deployed on Roosterfish in Costa Rica

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 22, 2017

Research expedition in the name of “John DeVries” sponsored by Seaguar Fluorocarbon


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POMPANO BEACH, FL — The Gray FishTag Research (GFR) team recently completed a series of research expeditions along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica as part of a study on the highly-sought-after Roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis). These research expeditions were divided into two phases and based out of four premier fishing destinations in Costa Rica. GFR Research Centers: Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Marina Pez Vela, Crocodile Bay Resort, and The Zancudo Lodge.


The Gray FishTag Research motto and mission has always been to connect the science community with the professional fishermen. Therefore, this tagging event was truly groundbreaking for many reasons. To be collaborate and connect so many members from so many aspects of the fishing community, and to be joined by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to reach a common goal is very promising for what lies ahead.


Phase 1of the Roosterfish tagging expedition took place in mid-July from the central Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. On this first phase of the expedition, angler Dave Bulthuis (VP, Costa Sunglasses and GFR Spokesman) joined the team to take part in the exciting work. The first day of fishing was hosted out of Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Costa Rica, and the GFR team accompanied by Ashley Bretecher (Exec. Dir. Marketing & Communications, Los Sueños) set out on two charter boats, the Sea Fly and the Sunny One. After running for about 15 miles, both boats put lines in the water around 7:30 a.m. Just after 11:30 a.m., the bite turned on and both vessels hooked up. The teams were first catching and releasing a mixture of large Crevalle Jacks and Cubera Snapper. Shortly after the back rod on the Sunny One was tight, the crew knew it was a Roosterfish. After a short fight by angler Jessica Harvey (GHOF, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation) the Roosterfish was in the boat and ready for the tag deployments. Once in the boat, GFR scientist, Travis Moore, went to work and implanted the electronic tag in the body cavity of the fish along with a conventional tag on the outer upper dorsal side. Within two and a half minutes, the roosterfish was placed in the water where it was revived and swam away healthy.


The second day of fishing the GFR team had relocated to Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica. Carter Takacs (GFR Advisory Board member and Harbor Master, Marina Pez Vela) joined the GFR team as they fished aboard the Good Day Sportfishing boat and the Hooker with legendary captain Skip Smith (GFR Advisory Board member). Just like the previous day on the water, the bite turned on around 11:30 a.m. The Good Day boat was the first to hook up and the fight was on. Jessica Harvey quickly reeled in a good sized Roosterfish at 46 inches. Again, like a well-oiled machine, the GFR team quickly measured the fish and implanted the electronic tag in the fish and tagged it with a conventional tag. This time less than two minutes had passed and the fish was back in the water where it was revived and it swam away healthy and full of energy.


Phase 2 of the Roosterfish tagging expedition took place in early August from the southern part of Costa Rica and was also hosted by two active and official research centers of GFR. The first day of fishing was based out of Crocodile Bay Resort located in Puerto Jimenez. Todd Staley (FECOP Executive Director and GFR Advisory Board member) joined the GFR team and after quick introductions with the captain and crew, we loaded up the boat and left the docks for some bait. Luckily the waters around the Gulfo Dulce are loaded with bait fish so it took no time to fill the live well before heading out. The captain decided to explore an area known as “Matapolo Rock,” which has historically been a hot spot for big Roosterfish. After only 30 minutes of fishing, the bite was on and we had multiple hook-ups. The first Roosterfish was a 41 incher. GFR scientist, Travis Moore, worked the rod quickly and had the fish on deck ready to be implanted with the electronic and conventional tag.


The second day of fishing was based out of The Zancudo Lodge located near the southern tip of Costa Rica. On this day, the GFR team was fishing with one of Zancudo’s top crews and was joined by the owner of the lodge, Gregg Mufson. The Gulfo Dulce is home to many rock formations and on the southern side there is an area known by locals as “Nicaragua Rock.” After about an hour of fishing the bite turned on. Multiple lines were hooked up with Roosterfish. Within an hour, several mid-sized roosterfish were caught, tagged and released with GFR conventional tags. It did not take long before a large Roosterfish was on the line. Gregg Mufson was on the reel and did an excellent job of bringing the fish to the boat. Once on deck, Travis and the team went to work on the fish, it was measured, the electronic tag was implanted, and the conventional tag was attached. The roosterfish was quickly returned to the water where it swam away full of energy.


The first two phases of the Costa Rican Roosterfish tagging project were truly an incredible accomplishment and success. The GFR team, advisors and boat crews successfully deployed 4 electronic archival tags in Roosterfish. This was the first time TDR archival tags have been implanted and deployed on this unique species. Over the next months to years, valuable information on migration, habitat, feeding behavior, and growth rates will all be gathered from those Roosterfish.


This research would not be possible without the Gray FishTag Research sponsors and Research Centers and the charter boats and crews who diligently offered their time, hard work and energy. A special thank you to Seaguar Fluorocarbon for their continued support and involvement.


The entire Gray FishTag Research team is already looking forward to new exciting research expeditions. Contact us today for any interest of participation. Phone (844) 824-8353. GrayFishTagResearch.org


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