Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Help the fisheries out in your neck of the woods

Thirty-one summers ago I caught a dandy smallmouth bass, 18.5 inches, 3.75 pounds, on a fishing excursion just north of the border on the “little Great Lake,” St. Clair.

I don’t remember the fish exactly, or the trip, exactly. I likely have a photograph, somewhere. But hanging above my workbench is a business card from late, fabled charter skipper, John Miner, and taped to his card with a scribbled note on catch details is the metal jaw-tag that the smallmouth was wearing when I landed it.

I dutifully sent in the flattened tag to the Lake St. Clair Advisory Committee and sometime later received back the tag, as a souvenir, along with a commemorative catch-patch. A note from the committee stated that said smallie had been jaw-tagged three months prior off Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, northeast of Detroit in Anchor Bay. That is some 25 miles north of the lake’s Ontario south shore at from Stoney Point, where we were fishing with Miner. It shows how much smallmouth can travel.

When I see the tag and see Big John’s card the memories of the day do flood back. It is a neat feeling, too, to recall that I had made a contribution to fisheries science by reporting the tag.

Tag reports help fisheries biologists track fish movements and seasonal habits, all crucial to good management. This is where anglers can provide helpful eyes and ears. It always is fun to know where the fish you caught was tagged and to wonder about its wandering ways.

Here in the Buckeye State, the Ohio Division of Wildlife tags and releases thousands of fish each year to study fish behavior, survival and harvest patterns. Release waters include Lake Erie, inland lakes or rivers, or the Ohio River.

A commonly used, economical tag is the metal jaw-tag, similar to the one I found in that big smallmouth. But the division biologists also use more extensive transmitter antenna tags, a T-bar floy tag, which is a small red-orange cylinder about as long as two pennies side by side. Another tag is actually injected toward the tail end of a fish, a pit tag

The more tag reports that biologists can receive, the better their data pool. It is easy to file a report on-line. It only takes a couple of minutes and your contribution is a job well done.

For me, 31 years and boatloads of fish later, I still am waiting to catch and report that next tagged fish.

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