Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Studies New Fish Tagging Technique

Jake Davis, a fisheries biologist with Game, Fish and Parks in Rapid City, is working with staff at McNenny State Fish Hatchery in Spearfish to evaluate a new trout tagging technique using a special fish tag.

Visible Implant Tags are individually numbered tags placed under the clear “skin” areas of fish. This study is comparing how long the tags remain in fish after they are placed in different locations on the fish.

According to Davis, tagging fish is necessary to collect data so that biologists can effectively manage South Dakota fisheries. Visible Implant Tags are less expensive, less stressful on the fish, and less time-consuming to use compared to other methods which require tag placement in the muscle or bone of the fish.

Specific to this project, Davis and the hatchery staff are evaluating tag placement in either the anal fin or the fatty tissue surrounding the eyes. The study started on June 18, and tag retention will be evaluated every two weeks until the end of August. Rainbow trout from 7-11 inches were implanted with visible implant tags and are being held in the raceways at McNenny.

The data will be used to determine the ideal location for tagging and tag efficiency in relation to fish size. “Determining the best location to obtain the highest tag retention rates is critical when applying these tags to fisheries studies in and around the Black Hills” Davis stated. If visible implant tags prove to be an efficient method of marking fish with individual identification numbers, anglers might be catching fish marked this way in the near future, but they will only see the tags if they carefully examine their catch.

Contacts: Raesha Ray or Michael Barns (, McNenny State Fish Hatchery, 19169 Trout Loop, Spearfish (605-642-6920).

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