Next time you catch a trout or salmon, remember to check for a clip on the adipose fin – that small, fleshy fin behind the dorsal fin. It could be worth $100.
Through mass marking assistance by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Great Lakes states, including Michigan, mark popular game fish like steelhead, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and lake trout.
Most trout and salmon with an adipose fin clip also have a coded-wire tag in their snout. The tag is small, like the tip of a lead pencil, so it must be removed by lab technicians. Anyone catching and wanting to keep an adipose fin clipped fish should turn the head into a local drop-off station in Michigan.
Randy Claramunt, Lake Huron Basin coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the DNR relies on the help of anglers to supplement the marked and tagged fish program.
“We have creel clerks at some ports, but there are several areas that we don’t have staff, including on river systems with unique fisheries, such as Atlantic salmon or steelhead,” he said. “To get enough tag returns to learn about these species, we need the help of our anglers to voluntarily turn in heads.”
The Great Lakes Salmon Initiative recognized the need for community science and teamed up with Captain Chuck’s II in Ludington, Moonshine Lures, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Blood Run Tackle and Collins Design and Build to sponsor 33 rewards worth $100 each. Fish with tags submitted before Nov. 1, 2021, will be eligible for the rewards, which will be selected randomly from all entries received by that date.
Additional details about the reward program:
Each head with a tag that is turned in equals one drawing entry.
Tagged fish must be submitted by Nov. 1, 2021.
Eligible tagged fish include steelhead, brown trout and Chinook or Atlantic salmon.
Your contact information (name, address, phone number) and catch data (date, location, body of water) must be included with each head.
The drawing will occur around February 2022.
The head must be left at a Michigan drop-off location.
According to Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator, fish tag returns help biologists understand survival, age and movements of important sport fish.
“We are particularly interested in confirming the wild contribution of Chinook salmon to the fishery, movement and wild contribution of steelhead in lakes and rivers, and survival and movement of Atlantic salmon,” Wesley said. “This reward program will help incentivize anglers to become community scientists and help us collect valuable data.”