Fly Life Magazine

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust: …got a new Hell’s Bay …for free!

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust is THE authority on the Holy Trinity of flats species. They put donations straight into the science and data collection. We are very fond of the organization and pleased to announce their latest partnership with longtime sponsor, Hell’s Bay Boatworks. Here’s how it all panned out.

Much of BTT’s research requires our team to be out on the water. Of course there are countless hours spent in labs analyzing data, but our work requires us to put in the time on boats to collect samples and conduct research. We aren’t just out there to fish—though lucky for us that is sometimes (truly!) the best sampling method.

If we get a call about a spawning aggregation, or a seagrass die-off, or hordes of permit or bonefish swimming, we need to get out there quickly to conduct important research. As the scope of our projects grew, so did our need to be out on the water.

Donation being put to good use...

Donation being put to good use…

For a while, this presented a number of challenges because we didn’t have the one thing we really needed for that—a boat. Fortunately, we had generous guides, friends and staff members who could often accommodate our last minute requests to get out on the water, and we still rely on guides who generously donate their time and expertise to put our scientists on fish.

But we really needed our own skiff.

Thankfully, our longtime sponsor, Hell’s Bay Boatworks came to the rescue and approached us with the generous offer to donate a Whipray to BTT’s research efforts. Over the past few months since it first hit the water, the new BTT Whipray has been all over Florida, allowing us to conduct and accelerate important research programs.

Now that the Whipray has joined the BTT team, we don’t really know how we functioned without her! She was critical to our ability to set our array of acoustic receivers in the Lower Keys and provided a successful trip to the lower Keys last month to acoustic tag permit for that same project. As the permit fishing continues to heat up, we will ramp up our permit tagging efforts in the months to come. With the new boat, we have been able to gather a number of additional bonefish fin clips for our bonefish genetics project. And as we start tagging tarpon and placing acoustic receivers this May for our tarpon acoustic tagging project, those of you in Florida may spot the BTT Whipray out on the flats. Many of our research efforts will rely on this boat to get us there.

We are grateful to Hell’s Bay for the newest addition to the BTT research team. Our work on the water is critical, and we couldn’t do it without their generosity. Stay tuned for our upcoming stories and photos from the flats aboard the new BTT research vessel, and visit to check out their awesome lineup of boats.

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