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PENDLETON, Ore. – In April and May the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be releasing a total of 1,500 trophy-sized trout into Willow Creek Reservoir near Heppner. One hundred and fifty fish will be marked with brightly-colored tags, 15 of which will be worth a $50 Visa card to the anglers who redeem them.
The fish tagging program is a part of ODFW’s efforts to better manage the trout fishery, according to Bill Duke, ODFW fish biologist in Pendleton.
“The tag reward program allows ODFW to monitor the success of its trout stocking programs using far fewer staff hours in the field,” Duke said. “We want to be sure these fish are being caught by anglers.”
The lucky anglers who catch a fish with a special reward tag, as indicated by a 4 digit number on the tag, must turn in the tag to the ODFW John Day Watershed Office at 73471 Mytinger Ln., Pendleton, Ore. 97801 in order to claim the $50 Visa gift card. The tag may be turned in by mail or in person. Anglers who catch any tagged fish are asked to report their catch.
Fish with reward tags can be harvested or released and still be eligible for prize money. If the fish is going to be released, cut the tag off rather than pull it out.
Anglers can report non-reward tags in person, by mail or by phone (541) 276-2344.
Look for ODFW “Tag Team” posters at boat ramps and popular fishing locations for more project or contact information.
This evaluation project, like several others throughout the state, is funded through a grant from the ODFW Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program.