Several varieties of trout and salmon have been tagged with a fin chip to help the DNR gather information. (Photo provided)

Turning in tagged fish to DRN could result in $100 reward

Jason Wesseldyk
Fishing can provide a relaxing day on the lake.
It could also provide a little extra cash.
With more anglers getting out on the water as summer approaches, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding them that catching a trout or salmon with an adipose fin chip could be worth a $100 reward. The adipose fin is the small, fleshy lobe on fish’s back, just forward of the tail fin.
Michigan’s marked and tagged fish program is part of a larger effort with the other Great Lakes states. With assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these states are mass marking popular gamefish—such as steelhead, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and lake trout—before those fish are stocked.
According to DNR Lake Huron Basin coordinator Randy Claramunt, the department relies on the help of anglers to supplement the marked and tagged fish program.
“We have limited capacity to take that important data from sport-caught trout and salmon,” he said. “We have creel clerks at some ports, but there are several areas—including some river systems with unique fisheries, like Atlantic salmon or steelhead—where we don’t have staff. 
“To get enough tag returns to learn about these species, we’re asking people to take a little extra time to turn in those heads.”
Recognizing the need for citizen science in this effort, the Great Lakes Salmon Initiative decided to provide some added incentive for people to turn in the heads. So, it teamed up with Captain Chucks II in Ludington and Moonshine Lures to sponsor 33 rewards worth $100 each. 
Fish with tags submitted before Nov. 1, 2020, will be eligible for the rewards, which will be randomly selected.
Lake Michigan Basin coordinator Jay Wesley said fish-tag returns help biologists understand survival, age and movement of important sportfish.
“We are particularly interested in confirming how naturally reproducing Chinook salmon contribute to the fishery; the movement and wild contribution of steelhead in lakes and rivers; and survival and movement of Atlantic salmon,” Wesley said. “This reward program sponsored by Captain Chucks II, Moonshine Lures and the Great Lakes Salmon Initiative will help incentivize anglers to become citizen scientists, and that ultimately helps us collect valuable data.”
Additional details about the reward program:
* Each head with a tag that is turned in equals one drawing entry.
* Eligible tagged fish include steelhead, brown trout, and Chinook or Atlantic salmon.
* The drawing will occur around January 2021.
* Contact information (name, address, phone number) must be provided with each head.
* Catch data (date, location and body of water) must be included with each head.
* The head must be left at a Michigan drop-off location.
Most trout and salmon with an adipose fin clip also have a coded-wire tag in the snout that are approximately the size of the tip of a pencil. Given their small size, the tags must be removed by lab technicians. 
If anglers catch and want to keep an adipose fin clipped fish, they are asked to turn the head in at one of the local drop-off locations. Drop-off locations in Allegan County are Big Lake Outfitters at 640 Water St. in Saugatuck and DNR Plainwell Customer Service Center at 621 N 10th St. in Plainwell.
For more information on how to recognize a tagged fish and how to fill out the proper information, visit


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