Weakfish Tagging Project


broadkill beach, weakfish tagging project, delaware, sussex county, delaware bay, sea trout, atlantic ocean fish
Aerial shot of the boys checking the seine net … photo by Jason Steagall

We spent a few days last week helping Jacob Krause and Cameron Luck from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina run a seine net for weakfish at Broadkill Beach.  Chad Betts was helping us in his off time from work.  We managed to catch a few weakfish the boys could tag for their weakfish tagging project.  We also caught a plethora of other fish which lead to many questions from readers, mostly what are all those fish biting on because we aren’t catching anything up there.  We caught puppy drum, huge croaker, needlefish, dog fish, flounder, burr fish, pompano, butterfish, cob mullet, short striped bass, weakfish, calico crabs, blue claw crabs, spider crabs,  and a few rays.  The funniest catch was eleven golf balls, all Titleists, so we named a tagged weakfish Kramer.  These are radio transmitter tags, but the boys also tagged a few weakfish with regular fish tags and the recovery of these tags is worth one hundred dollars.  You just  have to remove the red tag, call a phone number (1 800 790 2780), and send the tag in with the required information.  You do not have to keep and kill the fish to remove the tag, just cut it off at the base.  There are a lot of these tagged weakfish in North Carolina waters and a few up here in Delaware.  It will be interesting to see where these tagged fish are found throughout the years.  The migratory patterns of these fish are also unknown.  For example, do the weakfish in Delaware migrate to North Carolina?  Where do the North Carolina weakfish migrate to?  Do they migrate at all or just stay there like the striped bass population down there?   Hopefully one day we will be able to answer these questions.


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Weakfish red tag reward flyer
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The purpose of this tagging project and goals are listed on the Weakfish Tagging project page  … “North Carolina State University researchers are studying the movement and mortality of weakfish (A.K.A. – Gray trout, Squeteague, Sea trout, Tiderunner, Drummer) in North Carolina and Delaware Bay using advanced tagging and telemetry techniques to  better understand the decline of the weakfish population across the northeast United States. ”  When I learned of this project I was eager to help, I think we need to know much more about a fish that very few know anything about.  Weakfish were hot back in the day, then suddenly disappeared, and no one knows why.   The theories I have heard range from the logical to way out in left field.  The one solid truth in all the theories is no one really knows.  This will be an important study to follow for the next few years.  Hopefully we can learn a few things about weakfish migratory patterns and mortality rates.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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