Department of Natural Resources
May 29, 2020
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.
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.
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:
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 sponsored by Captain Chucks II, Moonshine Lures and the Great Lakes Salmon Initiative 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.