The Michigan DNR jaw-tagged 3,000 walleyes in a number of Saginaw Bay tributary rivers recently and is now asking anglers to collect and report information on tagged fish they catch.
The DNR has jaw-tagged more than 100,000 walleyes in the Saginaw Bay area since 1981 as part of a long-term research project to monitor survival and harvest rates and to learn about walleye movement. Each tag is stamped with a unique identification number and a post office box address. Anglers who catch a tagged walleye can report their catch by mail using the address on the tag, by calling the DNR Bay City Customer Service Center at 989-684-9141, or online by visiting www.Michigan.gov/taggedfish.
If reporting by mail or by phone, anglers are asked to provide their contact information as well as the tag identification number, the date the walleye was caught, the catch location, the fish's length, the fish's weight (if known), and whether or not the fish was harvested, released with the tag attached or released with the tag removed. Anglers who report tagged fish online will be automatically prompted for this information. Once reported, anglers will receive a letter detailing the history of their fish.
About 20 percent of the tags include a $100 reward when reported. Anglers can keep or release the fish, but in order to obtain the reward they must provide a clear photo of the reward tag. If the fish is released and anglers are not interested in being eligible to receive a reward, anglers should leave the tag in the fish's jaw and not remove it.
This also will be the second year that a new, brightly colored disk tag will be used on some fish to test how well anglers notice and report the tags.
"This information is essential to measuring the health of the population and is critical data we use to plan future management direction needed to protect and enhance this important fishery," said Dave Fielder, research biologist out of the DNRs Alpena Fisheries Research Station. "Besides ensuring the walleye fishery remains sustainable, we also annually estimate the population size with the aid of these tag reports."
The tagging operation occurs each spring on the Tittabawassee River and other Saginaw Bay tributaries during the walleye spawning run. The fish are collected with electrofishing boats that temporally stun them to allow fisheries biologists and technicians to collect vital statistics, tag the fish and release them back into the river after the fish have recovered. After spawning, the fish migrate back into Saginaw Bay, and a large number migrate out of the bay into Lake Huron. The fish that migrate out of the bay have been found ranging to the Straits of Mackinac to the north and Lake Erie to the south.