On a recent March afternoon along the beautiful intracoastal waterway in Jensen Beach, Florida, the first annual Slack Tide Guide Gathering was hosted byCosta, YETI, Simms, and Hell’s Bay Boat Works. With more than 100 charter captains from across Florida and as far as Washington and the Mid-Atlantic, there was much anticipation for a full day of events, great food, and the much anticipated ‘Guide Challenge’. In addition to new product highlights from each of these conservation minded companies, the event organized several different talks by industry professionals about the ways to expand and grow charter businesses.

The talks ranged from the use of social media and the importance of marketing on the internet to how-to seminars on taking great pictures on the water. Andrew Cox, TBF’s Science and Policy Specialist, had the opportunity to talk conservation in conjunction with two researchers from the Tarpon Bonefish Trust (BTT) and discussed how participating in conservation can benefit charter businesses. From the research side of things, BTT described their work with both Tarpon DNA and their new Project Permit program and TBF discussed the billfish tag and release program and described the programs worldwide participation and some of the incredible billfish recaptures over the years. Additionally, the talk expanded on how TBF’s tagging program furthers billfish conservation by improving the science and and influences policy. Since a majority of the guides attending fished primarily in less than 10 feet of water, the focus of TBF’s talk revolved around the premise that being actively involved in conservation can help improve their guide business.

As with any type of business, providing a unique experience for customers is the key to repeat business. From the perspective of many of TBF’s captains, the tagging program creates this opportunity. Not only do customers have the opportunity to see a fish they caught swim away with a bright orange tag, but a unique opportunity has been created to allow a charter customer to become personally connected to that tag number that is vital to furthering billfish conservation. They will remember that great day on the water where they may have caught their first billfish and will hope that one day they will one day receive a call from TBF telling them their billfish was recaptured. TBF’s release certificate program adds an extra benefit to this because it gives anglers the ability to hang a commemorative certificate on their wall as a way to remember that great day. From the business side of things for captains who are involved in TBF’s Tag and Release Program, their name and the name of their boat is front and center on the release certificate, providing additional benefits that could and will generate repeat customers and referrals. Whether you tag billfish, mahi-mahi, cobia, tarpon, bonefish, or permit, providing the unique experience for anglers by allowing them to learn and participate in conservation.

Check out more details and pictures from the event by clicking here