Adding a little Bling

Kirra with her very first tagged Mangrove Jack. The smile says it all!
By Adam Royle

As my daughters, Kirra and Hope, have grown, my wife and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy with them a whole stack of firsts. Their first fishing trip, their first ride in the boat, their first fish, their first fish on a lure… and so on.

While every occasion is special, there is always that nagging thought that one day it will all end. Whether it be due to a lack of interest, changing priorities or simply that they’ll grow up and go off to do their own thing, it’s always at the back of my mind. So, whenever possible, I try to change things up and introduce them to new piscatorial adventures whenever I get the opportunity.

The most recent daddy-daughter fishing activity came about after joining our local sportfishing club. During one of the club meetings our tagging officer announced that he had a couple of fish tagging guns for sale at a very reasonable price. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but afterwards Kirra came up to me and asked if she could buy one; well actually she asked if I would buy one for her! To be honest, it was something I had thought about doing since joining the club, so I agreed and told her to go over and politely ask if she could buy a tagging gun with a few tags.

For those not familiar with tagging, in a nutshell, ANSA and the state government collaborated many years ago to set up a fish tagging program as a way to monitor fish stocks. Specific species are monitored and by recording information such as species, location, size, date of capture and condition upon release the movement, growth rates and survival rates of those species can be monitored. So if you happen to recapture a tagged fish, please be sure to ring the phone number and provide the information that is printed on the tag itself.

Ok, back to the story. The weekend soon rolled around and after some less that subtle pleading to take them for a fish in the tinnie we headed off down the road to our local creek. Arriving at Cassady Creek with a few hours till high tide we headed upstream to see if we could get a few mangrove jack.
It didn’t take long for Kirra to nail the first fish, a small but feisty jack. After gently measuring the jack Kirra was given the task of adding the tag… or “bling” as the girls and I now call them. Hope was up next and it didn’t take long before another little creek jack was swimming back home with its share of bling.

Over the next few months the girls and I added bling to scores of fish including mangrove jack, pikey bream, javelin fish, flathead and many more. Along the way, dedicated daddy-daughter tagging trips have provided more firsts for our family. Not only did Kirra tag and release her very first saltwater barra, but also her first legal salty. Hope too has gotten in on the act by tagging and releasing our family’s first 40cm+ mangrove jack. My wife Melissa has even tagged a few fish and gets as much enjoyment as I do seeing the girls faces light up as they watch their catch swim away with their bling.

A side benefit to all royle Bling 2this tagging is that we have had several recaptures of fish that we have tagged. The girls get a thrill every time they hear that one of our tagged fish have been recaptured alive and well. We ourselves have also recaptured several fish that were tagged by our good friend and fellow club member Shannon Hetherington. Shannon and I fish together regularly and you would be amazed at how many times the girls and I have recaptured one of his tagged fish while he has been with us in our boat or on the water at the same time in his tinnie.

I could ramble on all day but the best way to show you how much it means to us as a family is to share some photos with you. I also have a couple of videos that I’m hoping to pop up on Fish & Boat Tube so keep an eye out for them. While there is no hiding the fact that they are growing up fast, I’m sure the girls and I will continue our daddy-daughter tagging trips for some time to come. After all… what girl doesn’t like a little bling! Catch Ya!