Gray FishTag Research has named The Fisherman Magazine and its headquarters to become an Official Research Center for the program. The plan is to target striped bass and other regional species in an effort to learn more about this Northeastern fishery. As a kickoff to Gray’s tagging efforts throughout the Northeast region, General Manager of Gray FishTag Research Bill Dobbelaer plans to bring a trophy sized Gray Fishmounts striper mount, a 50-incher, to be awarded to the team who tags the most striped bass in the shortest period of time during the annual Manhattan Cup Fishing Tournament taking place on June 8.
On this day approximately 50 professional fishing guides will provide their boats and expertise to individual teams competing in the Manhattan Cup, one of the largest, one-day inshore tournaments in the Northeast with a strictly catch and release format. After a two-year hiatus, the tournament returns to the Hudson River again in 2018 running out of Liberty Landing Marina, thanks to the efforts of Capt. Frank Crescitelli and the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). The contest will include live release, fly fishing, wounded veterans and celebrity categories once again, but a new wrinkle will provide a new tagging incentive through Gray FishTag. By providing enough tags and tagging kits for all the participating teams to incorporate into their daily tournament efforts, the hope is to kick of a wide-scale tagging effort for striped bass this spring. Ultimately, Dobbelaer and his team believe that more tournament organizers – whether for striped bass, mako shark or even summer flounder (fluke) – will want to adopt similar contest parameters in the future by which released fish can also add up towards tournament prizes.
“If we can get guys to tag one or two fish on each boat in future tournaments, think about the data we’ll be getting down the road,” said Dobbelaer. For the Manhattan Cup, which had been one of the premier catch and release striper tournaments when it first kicked off in 1999 (running through until 2014), incorporating a prize component for tagging is only natural as the event is reborn in 2018.
“The timing is so key right now,” said Mike Caruso, Publisher of The Fisherman Magazine who is looking forward to the Manhattan Cup and to kick off the striper tagging efforts. “We’re seeing so many anomalies, with micro bass on the beach and big spawners seeming to stay so far offshore, so it would be nice to uncover even just a small part of what’s going on.”
Capt. Frank Crescitelli said the Manhattan Cup has always tried to lead by example in an effort to release as many of the genetically superior, breeding class stripers as possible. “Add in tagging and now you can track the patterns of these very important fish and engage people in the process, to me it seems like a no brainer,” Crescitelli said. Not just striped bass either, but Gray FishTag Research says anglers can tag just about any fish they catch in an effort to gain valuable return data for future use, which means sharks, summer flounder and other important local fish species as well. Said Dobbelaer, “We want data on bluefish, we don’t know what we want the data for just yet but we’re going to need this type of information on bluefish somewhere down the road too.” “In every one of these places, we’ve discovered it’s never too late to start tagging, and it never has to end either,” Dobbelaer said. “This isn’t some gimmick, we’re going to need tagging forever.”
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