Gladstone fisherman hunts the elusive triple tail

HE'S tagged more than 10,000 fish, but it's the challenge of catching a Triple Tail that has Gladstone fisherman Daniel Powell hooked.

For three years he has targeted the elusive species, catching 38 around Gladstone.

It's considered a difficult catch and a delicacy for many serious fishermen, but Daniel is that fascinated by the fish he's prepared to help uncover its secrets.

Daniel Powell with a tripletail fish he caught in the Gladstone region. Photo Contributed
Daniel Powell with a tripletail fish he caught in the Gladstone region. Photo Contributed Contributed

The 30-year-old is the only Queensland-based sampler for the Gulf State Marine Fisheries Commission research centre, an American institute collecting the first international data on the Triple Tail species.

The research project aims to find out more about the species, because scientists know very little about it.

The organisation has enlisted volunteers - you'd expect most of them to be keen fishermen - from around the world who are sending in scale samples of Triple Tails they catch.

"A lot of the times when I've seen other people catch them it's been an accidental catch," Daniel said.

Eventually a paper will be written on the Triple Tail, with his data included in the information shared to keen fishermen.

"Finding them is the most difficult part," he explained.

"I've spent plenty of days going out looking for Triple Tail and not make one cast or even prop down the electric motor.

"I did a lot of research and I had plenty of theories so I went out and tested them and to see what I could catch.

"It took about three or four trips before I caught my first one. I was with my partner and we caught three small ones.

"That's what let me know what I was doing was correct," he said.

He fished in areas from Turkey Beach to Stanus Bay and has caught Triple Tail at five spots.

Daniel, who moved to Gladstone five years ago for work, started tagging fish 17 years ago with his dad Michael.

He was 13 at the time, and his dad had just joined a 'catch and release' fishing club.

"(Tagging) is an interest of mine. I'm able to have a look through my data and see where I was fishing and what I was catching in May 2010," Daniel said.

"Unlike playing footy or any team sport it's almost like a challenge against myself."

You could argue Daniel has risen to the challenge, notching up tags for 10,030 fish in 17 years.

Daniel said his knowledge and expertise as a tagger had changed his approach as a fisherman, now targeting specific species using his own data.

"When I first started it was about tagging as many fish as possible, but now it's more about targeting specific fish," he said.

Daniel is also one of Gladstone's main contributors to fish stock information coordinated by Suntag and Crystal Bowl.

This week the Rockhampton-based organisation, Crystal Bowl, launched a real-time interactive fishing data site using Suntag data, focussed on Gladstone and the Fitzroy.

The Most tagged fish

Barramundi: 1895

Dusky flathead: 1342

Yellowfin bream: 792

Mangrove jack: 487

Barred javelin: 412

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