Catch, Measure, Tag, Release, Record Tagging Data, Submit Tagging Data
Plan to tag legal sized fish as undersized fish will not carry the tag as well. Barbless hooks are recommended because they will reduce damage to the fish as well as be easier for the fish to shed if it breaks free of your line. In addition, try to place the fish on a soft, cool, damp, clean surface such a damp towel or mat. We recommend using a rubberized landing net to control the fish which will minimize removal of essential fish slime, as compared to the harsher cotton and nylon netting.
Lay the fish on its side and cover its eyes with a wet, dark cloth to calm it down, if possible. Measure from the nose of the fish to the fork of the tail in inches, using the tape measure provided in your tag kit. Do not place the tape measure on top of the fish and follow the curve of the fish; instead measure in a straight line without touching the fish.
In general, the tag is retained best and affects the fish the least when inserted through the 2nd dorsal fin bones. As the fish is laying on its side with its eyes covered if possible, insert the tag with the barb facing the dorsal fin at a 45 degree angle from the plane of the fish’s side and 45 degree angle from the plane of the top of the fish. (see photos below)
The 45 degree angle into the side of the dorsal fin ray bones ensures that the barb penetrates the bones to the other side of the bones. The 45 degree angle from the plane of the top of the fish follows the angle of the dorsal fins and reduces the chance of the tag rubbing against an object. This orientation has proven to also minimize skin lesions on the fish caused by the tag rubbing against the skin.
Carefully push the barb through until you hear a “click”. That means the barb on tag penetrated through to the other side of the dorsal fin bones. Don’t push so hard or else you may poke through the fish! Remove the tag applicator and give a slight tug on the tag to make sure it’s anchored in the dorsal fin ray bones.
Quickly and safely release the tagged fish. If it needs to be resuscitated, place it upright in the water to allow oxygen to flow through its gills. Gently rock the fish in a front to back motion to create water flow over the gills. As the fish revives it will try to kick away from your grip; at that point you can release it.
Record Tagging Data
Immediately record the tag number, date, time, species, fork length and location on your data card or some other preferred media. Data recording suggestions: some clever taggers write with a pencil on a textured piece of plexiglass, which can be later wiped clean to start over. Others have video recorded their tagging process along with detailed tagging information.
Submit Tagging Data
This last step is crucial in tracking the growth and migration of your fish. Please either fill out the very easy to use online form, or upload a photo of your data card as soon as possible after fishing. This way there is less chance of misplacing your valuable tagging data. You’ll be credited on “Da List“ and if your fish is recaptured you’ll receive a recovery letter with information on growth, travel and days at liberty. (The tagger does not receive a t-shirt if his tagged fish is recovered unless he recovers his own tagged fish)