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Turning in tagged fish could net cash reward

Tag returns help biologists understand fish survival, age and movement

People who regularly fish Michigan waters likely are familiar with the state’s marked and tagged fish program. Through assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Great Lakes states, including Michigan, are mass marking popular gamefish (like steelhead, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and lake trout) before those fish are stocked.

As more anglers get out on the water this summer, the DNR reminds them that catching a trout or salmon with an adipose fin clip could be worth a $100 reward. The adipose fin is the small, fleshy lobe on the fish’s back, just forward of the tail fin.

Most trout and salmon with an adipose fin clip also have a coded-wire tag in the snout. Because the tags are small, like the tip of a lead pencil, they must be removed by lab technicians. If anglers catch and want to keep an adipose fin clipped fish, they are asked to turn the head in at one of the local drop-off stations. To find one in your county, go to Michigan.gov/TaggedFish, then scroll down and click on “coded wire tags” and then scroll down and click on “drop off locations.”

Randy Claramunt, the DNR’s Lake Huron Basin coordinator, said the department relies on the help of anglers to supplement the marked and tagged fish program.

“We have limited capacity to take that important data from sport-caught trout and salmon,” he said. “We have creel clerks at some ports, but there are several areas, including some river systems with unique fisheries, like Atlantic salmon or steelhead, where we don’t have staff. To get enough tag returns to learn about these species, we’re asking people to take a little extra time to turn in those heads.”

The Great Lakes Salmon Initiative recognized the need for citizen science in this effort and teamed up with Captain Chucks II in Ludington and Moonshine Lures to sponsor 33 rewards worth $100 each. Fish with tags submitted before Nov. 1, 2020, will be eligible for the rewards, which will be randomly selected.

Additional details about the reward program:

  • Each head with a tag that is turned in equals one drawing entry.
  • Eligible tagged fish include steelhead, brown trout, and Chinook or Atlantic salmon.
  • The drawing will occur around January 2021.
  • Contact information (name, address, phone number) must be provided with each head.
  • Catch data (date, location and body of water) must be included with each head.
  • The head must be left at a Michigan drop-off location.

According to Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator, fish tag returns help biologists understand survival, age and movement of important sportfish.

“We are particularly interested in confirming how naturally reproducing Chinook salmon contribute to the fishery; the movement and wild contribution of steelhead in lakes and rivers; and survival and movement of Atlantic salmon,” Wesley said. “This reward program…will help incentivize anglers to become citizen scientists, and that ultimately helps us collect valuable data.”

For more information on how to recognize a tagged fish and how to fill out the proper information, visit Michigan.gov/TaggedFish.

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Caught a marked or tagged fish? Report it to the DNR

Anglers fishing in Michigan may come across fish with external or internal tags. Reporting those fish and their tag information is extremely helpful to Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries research and management. Plus, some tags offer a small reward.

Have you ever been fishing Michigan waters and pulled in a fish with a missing fin or one with an external tag on it? Several fish species found around the state are marked in some way, and the details on the fish and the tags are important to several DNR studies and management efforts.

Such species include Chinook and Atlantic salmon, steelhead, walleye, lake sturgeon and brown and lake trout. A fish may have an external mark, such as a fin clip, or the mark could be internal and not visible to the naked eye. Many fish with internal tags also will have a clipped fin. For instance, a fish with an implanted coded-wire tag in its snout would be missing its adipose fin (the small, fleshy fin found to the rear of a fishs dorsal, or top, fin).

Anglers may come across several different fish tags, including:

* Telemetry or temperature/depth-recording tags, some of which would be discovered only when cleaning a fish for consumption (although some external tags are visible). 

 * Anchor tags, which often are inserted near the base of a fin. 

 * Jaw tags, which hook onto a fishs upper or lower jaw. 

Tags can be reported through the tagged fish form https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/ORS/Survey/26?utm_campaign=news+digest+nov2019+week3&utm_medium=digest&utm_source=govdelivery available on the DNR’s Eyes in the Field observation reporting system https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/ORS/Home?utm_campaign=news+digest+nov2019+week3&utm_medium=digest&utm_source=govdelivery. The form asks for contact information; catch location, fish and tag details; and (if available) photos.

Anglers who catch and keep fish with large internal or external tags (about the size of a finger in some cases) are urged to return the tags to the nearest DNR office. The tags often can be reused, and some tags also offer small monetary rewards. In most cases, an angler will receive a detailed report about the fish the tag came from. For tagged fish intended for release, please dont remove tags; just report the tag information.

Marking and tagging fish help the DNR understand their growth, mortality, exploitation and movement, as well as the value of naturally reproduced versus stocked fish. Learn more about these efforts at Michigan.gov/TaggedFishhttps://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79119_79146_82441_82708—,00.html?utm_campaign=news+digest+nov2019+week3&utm_medium=digest&utm_source=govdelivery.

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