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Permit Recapture in Ascension Bay

BTT recently received word that a permit was recaptured during the Black Tail Invitational, hosted by Mike Dawes of WorldCast Anglers at La Pescadora Lodge in Punta Allen, Mexico, with support from a number of generous sponsors. The BTI tournament is held annually and donates all proceeds from entry fees and auction items to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Jon Ain Memorial Fund, which helps support permit research in Ascension Bay and the surrounding areas. Since its inception in 2014, BTI has raised over thirteen-thousand dollars, and its anglers have tagged around seventy-five permit!

At the rules meeting before the tournament began, BTT member Nick Ozimek asked what an angler should do on the off-chance that he or she lands a permit that has been previously tagged. Little did he know that he would be the lucky guy to catch one! On the morning of August 10th, Nick and his guide, Nestor, encountered a solo permit while they were fishing in Xhobon. Nick made the cast, stripped his Avalon fly once, and the fish pounced.

When Nick and Nestor landed the permit, they recorded its tag number and took measurements of the fish, which weighed approximately 15-pounds, with a fork length of 28-inches. Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT Director of Science and Conservation, reports that the fish was originally tagged nearly three years earlier, on October 23, 2013, in an area of Ascension Bay known as Tres Marias, which is only about eight miles from where Nick caught the fish in Xhobon.

Little is known about the growth rate and age of permit in Mexico (the only growth rate/age data we currently have is from Florida), but the fish Nick caught was likely sexually mature and over five years old. Based on the data, the fish grew about an inch and gained a pound since it was originally tagged in October, 2013. Dr. Adams notes that this is a fairly slow growth rate compared to other recaptures so far. At this point, all the recaptures of tagged permit in Mexico have occurred within Ascension Bay.

“Assuming tagged permit aren’t being caught and not reported, this is good news,” Dr. Adams says. “This implies that Ascension Bay is large enough to protect the local population, making it more likely to be sustainable as long as the fish and the habitats in the bay continue to be protected.”

Congratulations to Nick and Nestor, and a big thanks to Mike Dawes and all the participants of the Black Tail Invitational. We look forward to receiving more reports of permit recaptures, so we can continue to learn about this remarkable species.