Teen brothers catch tagged red snappers back to back offshore Pascagoula, MS
By Michael Fore
Catching a tagged red snapper is rare. Catching two tagged snapper back-to-back is almost unheard of, and it made a memory that’ll last a lifetime for two teen brothers fishing out of Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Recently, fisheries ecologists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and University of South Alabama tagged and released 750 red snapper in their High Dollar Red Snapper Tagging program. Offering a $250 reward for tagged fish and $500 for double-tagged fish, the idea is to increase the incentive for anglers to report tagged red snapper.
The two brothers certainly earned their gas money, and they did it in just a few minutes. Caleb, 14, caught the fish with single tag first. Once the fish was in the boat he said, “This has a yellow tag on it.” I explained what that meant, and we were all pumped.
Caleb’s brother Brayden, 15, immediately dropped a line, and within one minute he was hooked up. “Fish on,” Brayden said, “and this one is probably double tagged.” Everyone on boat was like, “Yeah, right.” I saw how the fish was fighting and could see deep color. I knew it wasn’t a big one, so I told Brayden to release the fish when he got it in. Meanwhile, another guy hooked up on a big snapper on other side of boat, so I went to help him.
When Brayden got his fish on deck, he started jumping up and down, yelling, “It’s double tagged! It’s double tagged!”
Of course no one believed him—because what are the odds, right? Turning to Brayden, I saw the excitement on his face and immediately knew he was telling the truth.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that brothers got to be a part of. The memory of that moment will never go away.
I’ve got that fishing spot marked in my GPS as “Sweet Spot.” The boys renamed it, “Money Maker.”
More On Tagged Red Snapper
The High Dollar Red Snapper Tagging program is one of several being conducted in the Gulf of Mexico right now. It is a cooperative effort with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the University of South Alabama, Auburn University and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division.
Of 750 red snapper tagged, an estimate of recreational fishing mortality can be calculated based on the number of tags returned by anglers.
Anglers are traditionally rewarded with a hat or t-shirt for returning a tagged fish, an incentive that might not be sufficient to warrant participation. This program ups the ante with a cash reward of $250 per tagged fish, to ensure that the tag returns provide the best possible estimates of recreational fishing mortality.
There is also a possibility that tagged fish could shed their tags. In order to estimate the number of fish that shed their tags, the team decided to double tag 250 fish. The reward is $500 for the angler fortunate enough to catch a double-tagged fish. Tags must be mailed to the Auburn Department of Fisheries for anglers to collect their reward.
To report caught tagged fish, anglers should call toll free 855-818-9983 or e-mail r[email protected].