NOVEMBER 19, 2019

Michigan DNR Calls on Anglers to Report Marked or Tagged Fish

Have you ever been fishing Michigan waters and pulled in a fish with a missing fin or one with an external tag on it? Several fish species found around the state are marked in some way, and the details on the fish and the tags are important to several DNR studies and management efforts.

Such species include Chinook and Atlantic salmon, steelhead, walleye, lake sturgeon and brown and lake trout. A fish may have an external mark, such as a fin clip, or the mark could be internal and not visible to the naked eye. Many fish with internal tags also will have a clipped fin. For instance, a fish with an implanted coded-wire tag in its snout would be missing its adipose fin (the small, fleshy fin found to the rear of a fish’s dorsal, or top, fin).

Anglers may come across several different fish tags, including:

  • Telemetry or temperature/depth-recording tags, some of which would be discovered only when cleaning a fish for consumption (although some external tags are visible).
  • Anchor tags, which often are inserted near the base of a fin.
  • Jaw tags, which hook onto a fish’s upper or lower jaw.

Tags can be reported through the tagged fish form, available on the DNR’s Eyes in the Field observation reporting system. The form asks for contact information; catch location, fish and tag details; and (if available) photos.

Anglers who catch and keep fish with large internal or external tags (about the size of a finger in some cases) are urged to return the tags to the nearest DNR office. The tags often can be reused, and some tags also offer small monetary rewards. In most cases, an angler will receive a detailed report about the fish the tag came from. For tagged fish intended for release, please don’t remove tags; just report the tag information.

Marking and tagging fish help the DNR understand their growth, mortality, exploitation and movement, as well as the value of naturally reproduced versus stocked fish. Learn more about these efforts at

Questions? Contact Elyse Walter at 517-284-5839.