In 1965, businessman William Mote moved to Sarasota and immediately took an interest in an under-funded marine research facility. Two years later, Mote Marine Laboratory was named in his honor after his funding improved the formerly known Cape Haze Marine Laboratory. William Mote passed away at the age of 93 in 2000.
“I had Bill Mote on my boat for 25 years; he was a special person,” said renowned Capt. Scott Moore. “He cared. He went out and saw a vision. This is what we need, people to understand you have to have science to improve.”
For many years Mote Marine Laboratory has been held in high regard for its research abilities and its many diverse research programs. Part of this research includes helping to improve local fisheries by studying conservation methods, habitat restoration, reproductive cycles and much more from its City Island-based facility.
Next Friday anglers will have the opportunity for hands-on involvement in this research. For the 12th time, the William R. Mote Memorial Snook Shindig will kick off at a 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, captain’s meeting. Fishing will begin an hour later at 7 p.m. before ending at noon the next day. The fishing area will be from Cortez to Venice along Sarasota Bay.
“There’s been a few years we’ve missed because of red tide and the snook closure,” said Carole Neidig, a Mote staff scientist who helps to organize the tournament. “We didn’t want to advocate catching snook during those times, even though our tournament is catch-and-release. We wanted to avoid any additional pressure on the snook population.”
Neidig says about 70 anglers, of all ages, took part in the research tournament last year, which turns each one into essentially an important “citizen scientist” contributor.
“We want the community to be aware of what we are doing in our shared backyard to improve the fishery. We’re trying to learn about the survival rate and movement of snook released using a responsible approach in certain habitats found in Sarasota Bay,” Neidig continued.
“Over the past several months and even last week, we released several thousand snook in the bay, juveniles from about 5- to 11-inches long, with implanted PIT tags. There are underwater antennas in the tidal creeks of the bay so that if a tagged snook swims by we’re able to obtain specific data back from the tag.”
This amazing system is just one of the many ways tagged snook provide data to the laboratory. During this tournament, anglers are asked to have their snook scanned for PIT tags by scientists and volunteers Mote has trained, around the bay.
“Some years one or two tagged fish were caught, while other years we’ve had up to a dozen,” Neidig said. “The valuable data the anglers contribute helps us to tweak vital release strategies needed for optimum released fish survival and contributes to data on the wild snook population.”
If you would like to take part in this tournament, the cost is only $50 for adults and $30 for 17 years and younger. The entry fee includes fishing the tournament, an awards dinner, a T-shirt and raffle ticket. Awards are given to the top catches. Families are encouraged to participate. Visit www.mote.org/shindig for information.