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April 11, 2012

Tagger Ken Neill sets a new record for the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program

Neill’s tautog was at large for 2,826 days, only 94 days short of 8 years.

Angler Ken Neill, III, is a record breaker.

It was 8 years ago today that Ken Neill tagged an 11.5 inch tautog when fishing off Cape Henry.  Neill didn’t think about the fish again for a long time, until January this year, when he received his recapture report.  Neill’s fish was recaptured on January 5, 2012 by Joe Stagnato, close to the very location where it was tagged.  Neill’s tautog was at large for 2,826 days, only 94 days short of 8 years.  Ken’s tautog set a new record for days at large for the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP).  But Neill is no stranger to catching big “togs.”   In late February he caught one of his own tagged tautog on the same wreck where he tagged it nearly 7 years ago.  Originally tagged at 16.75 inches, the fish had grown to two feet when he recaptured it in February. 

“Ken’s recaptures are exciting because they help tell the story of these fish.  Thanks to his tagging effort and the recapture reports we know that these fish haven’t moved far (or not at all in the case of the second tautog); we know how much they’ve grown and we know that we’ve had success with tag retention in a structure-oriented species.  These are great data to document the long-term use and importance of these habitats for these fish.  We’re very lucky to have dedicated anglers like Ken in our program,” says VIMS marine recreation specialist and co-coordinator of the VGFTP, Susanna Musick.

Since 1995, the VGFTP has tagged 10 species of recreationally important finfish with the help of volunteer anglers. A cooperative effort between the Marine Advisory Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and Saltwater Tournament at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), the program’s funding is from state saltwater license funds and VIMS.

And Ken Neill, III keeps breaking records.  On March 25, 2012 he landed a 24 pound, 3 ounce tautog setting a new state record in Virginia!

 —By Susanna Musick