MOTE MARINE LABORATORY
MOTE MARINE LABORATORY TAGGING GUIDE
HOW WE TAG FISH---AND WHY!!!!
How do you tag a fifty pound grouper?
Carefully. Very carefully. The more you handle it, the greater stress it suffers. With fish, as in humans, stress kills.
That is why we are using dart tags. They are easy to insert and they let you get the fish back in the water quickly.
Here is what to do:
1. If possible, use hooks that rust quickly or have no barb--use of circle hooks is preferable.
2. Land the fish quickly and don't play it to exhaustion, keep the fish from thrashing. Net the catch only if there is no other way to control the fish.
3. When possible use a hook removing tool. If you can't get hook out, cut the line and release the fish. Cut the line close to the hook.
4. Try to use a water soaked cloth/cloth glove when handling the fish so it won't remove the fish's protective slime. Don't hold the fish by the gills or eyes.
5. The less you handle the fish, the better the chances of the fish surviving.
6. Have tag applicator loaded and in a handy spot before you start fishing. (When you are landing a thirty pound fish, it's difficult to load a tag in the applicator)!
7. Lay the fish on the right side to tag and measure. All fish 12 inches and above should be tagged with the large dart tags. All fish below 12 inches should be tagged with the small dart tags. (See: How to Measure Your Fish)
8. Insert the tag as close to the dorsal fin as possible. The barb should be facing the tagger during insertion and given a twist while in the fish to properly anchor the tag between the vertebrae and dorsal fin spines. The tag should be inserted so the streamer slants toward the tail of the fish. Tug lightly on the streamer to insure a snug fit.
10. Be sure to record all needed information on data sheets provided (length, date, time, location, etc.) Also record any observations of the fish health or the general procedure.
11. To release the fish gently place in water, supporting mid section and tail until it swims away. An exhausted fish can be resuscitated by gently moving it back and forth in the water, forcing water through it's gills.
12. If the fish dies remove the tag before discarding.
13. Periodically clean tagging and venting tools with alcohol or bleach.
What a lot to do. So why bother?
The answer is without all of the information requested, we would be unable to develop a complete database from which management strategies are suggested (i.e. the efficacy of fish venting on fish survival). This data will also yield information on movement patterns, growth rates, and seasonal variations. The data sheets are standardized so that data can be compared for all species and from both coasts.
As scientists or anglers, we need answers. Without them, we will never manage our fisheries successfully. Thank you for lending a hand!
Return to: Tagging
Last Updated: October 22, 2002
Web Site Design: Don Marshall