The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is set to jaw tag nearly 3,000 walleyes in Saginaw Bay this spring. Anglers are asked to collect information on tagged fish they catch and to report it to the DNR.
The DNR has tagged more than 100,000 walleyes in that water body since 1981. Jaw tagging is part of a long-term research project to monitor survival and harvest rates and to learn about walleye movement. The program depends on anglers to report when they catch a tagged walleye, as well as the fish’s length, weight (if known) and tag identification number. Once reported, anglers will receive a letter back detailing the history of their fish.
About 10 percent of the tags include a $100 reward for reporting the tag. Each tag is stamped with a unique identifying number and a P.O. box address. If anglers prefer, they can report their tagged walleyes online at www.michigandnr.com/taggedfish/. Anglers can keep the fish, of course, or release it if they prefer.
“This information is essential to measuring the health of the population” said David Fielder, a research biologist out of the DNR’s 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 when walleyes are in the river for spawning. They are collected with electrofishing boats that temporarily stun the fish, which are then tagged and released back into the river. After spawning, walleyes migrate back into Saginaw Bay. Some walleyes will migrate out of the bay and into other parts of Lake Huron.