Until now, there has been a lack of detailed scientific information about the movement of spotted seatrout, otherwise known to some anglers as speckled trout. In the fall of 2012, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries launched an acoustic telemetry tagging project on Lake Pontchartrain to collect continuous data on individual spotted seatrout movements over time.
The data collected will give insight to seasonal migration patterns, habitat use, and how movements may vary between sexes.
In conjunction with the Department's tagging efforts, the Louisiana Saltwater Series will host a catch and release speckled trout tournament on Saturday, May 25, 2013, at the Mandeville Public Boat Launch and Harbor. The tournament follows a week-long spring tagging event, where LDWF and LSU staff will implant acoustic tags in speckled trout provided by volunteer anglers before releasing them back into Lake Pontchartrain. Some of the fish brought in to the scales at the tournament will be used as part of this program.
"Spotted seatrout are extremely common in Louisiana estuaries and coastal waters and are of considerable recreational and economic importance," explained LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. "The spatial ecology of this species is significantly understudied, so we have developed this project to address this gap in knowledge. Incorporating our Louisiana Saltwater Series Tournament into the program is another great way to garner support and awareness."
Acoustic tags are much more effective for tracking fish movement than traditional tagging techniques. Conventional tagging involves marking and releasing a fish that will hopefully be recaptured at a future date. This method yields very few data points: the location of the fish at initial capture and its location during potential recaptures. All movement of the fish between recapture points - potentially months or years apart - is lost.
Volunteer anglers participate in the tagging events and transport trout to an LDWF surgery boat where fish are implanted with transmitters. Surgery is performed as quickly as possible. Fish are then placed in a recovery tank and are released over the side of the boat after a monitoring period to ensure they are healthy for release.
These tagged fish are very valuable to this research project, and we ask that if caught, they be released so that data can continue to be collected. Tagged fish that are part of this program can be recognized by a blue external dart tag. Please call the number provided on the blue tag, and report the date, time, location of catch, and health of the fish when released. If a fish with an internal transmitter is retained, please return the transmitter to A. Ferguson, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, La. 70808.