Each year, TBF relies on the sportfishing community across the world to report their billfish tag and release data. Since it began in 1990, TBF’s Tag & Release Program now has the largest private billfish tagging database in the world, with over 220,000 tag and release records. This valuable data is required to further billfish science needed to help fishing opportunities remain available for future generations. Without the dedication of these individuals around the world, what is known about billfish would be far less and conservation would have suffered. To recognize their tag and release efforts, each year TBF’s International Tag & Release Competition rewards captains, anglers, and mates and brings out the best in the sportfishing arena.
On February 13, 2015, TBF honored over 30 winners from around the globe with the 2014 International Tag & Release Awards Ceremony at Miami’s Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom. Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund (BFWCF) sponsored the 25th annual award ceremony and the awards were presented by King Sailfish Mounts. These two companies are Tagging Program sponsors along with Costa Sunglasses, Pelagic Gear, Casa Vieja Lodge & Simrad, all who made the program a success. Sailfish Brewery supplied guests with delicious local craft beers. All award winners received a pair of sunglasses from Costa. In addition, overall winners received lures from Fathom Offshore, as well as, Fishtrack premium memberships. Guests supported a raffle that included products from ORCA, Fathom Offshore, Troll Pro, Costa, Pelagic, King Sailfish Mounts, FishTrack, Alutecnos, Bluefin USA, Wines for Humanity, and artwork by Yellowfin Unlimited. Every guest received a goody bag filled with items and information from all of TBF’s sponsors.
2014 was a remarkable year for billfishing and the numbers don’t lie. In both the Atlantic and Pacific, tag and release records for blue marlin were smashed. Famous grounds in Cape Verde, Costa Rica and the Great Barrier Reef produced unbelievable fishing not seen in decades. TBF received a significant increase in data reported from Western Australia and Western Africa which shows billfish conservation is growing in these hot-spots.
Top Overall Tagging (combined total of all billfish species tagged) Angler was awarded to Keith Brandner and Top Tagging Lady Angler to Sandra MacMillan. Brandner, fishing aboard the Carol Libby with Capt. Josh Temple (Top Tagging Captain Pacific Blue Marlin), managed to tag an astonishing 594 Pacific blue marlin, the most ever in a single season. Rivaling their record season was Top Overall Release Angler and Top Release Angler Pacific Blue Marlin, Pat McCotter, and his Captain, Pete Rae, who took home Top Overall Release Captain Pacific Blue Marlin, aboard the Sea Spud. Guatemala led the pack and was home port for multiple award winners including Top Overall Tagging Captain, Chris Sheeder, Top Overall Release Captain, Chris “Kiwi” Van Leeuwen and Top Overall Release Lady Angler, Tiffany Day. To little surprise, Gray Ingram and Capt. Ronnie Fields on the Big Oh, fishing out of Cape Verde, walked away from the award ceremony with their arms full. In another record breaking season, Ingram and Fields released a total of 404 Atlantic blue marlin for Top Release and Tag Angler and Captain (Atlantic blue marlin) respectively.
It is never too early to instill the conservation ethic in a child. Rounding out top overall categories were Top Overall Release Youth Angler, Gregory Benn and Top Overall Tagging Youth Angler, Shawn MacMullin. As a youth angler, Benn even managed to tally the most white marlin releases than any adult for Top Release Angler Atlantic White Marlin.
TBF also introduced the first Gulf of Mexico regional awards. This recognizes anglers and crews in the Gulf, who tag the most marlin during the season (May 1 – Sept. 30). This competition counts tags for both blue marlin and white marlin collected in the Gulf of Mexico (West of the 82 W Longitude) for top captains, anglers, and boat. Top Tagging Captain for blue marlin in 2014 was Al Roper, who fished on Michi, and the Top Tagging Captain for white marlin was Don Trasher on Business Interruption. The Top Overall Tagging Captain came from the Top Overall Tagging Boat, Jimmy Crochet on Conundrum.
TBF would like to thank our 2014 Tagging Program sponsors: Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund, Costa Sunglasses, Pelagic Gear, King Sailfish Mounts, Casa Vieja Lodge & Simrad. Their constant support proves their commitment to conservation.
TBF would like to once again thank our 2014 Tagging Program sponsors: Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund, Costa Sunglasses, Pelagic Gear, King Sailfish Mounts, Casa Vieja Lodge & Simrad. Their constant support proves their commitment to conservation.