What is that yellow tag? It's good to know before you catch one.
As much as I post about TAG Louisiana on a website that receives tens of thousands of visitors each month and a Facebook page that reaches millions more, it's a shock there are people who still don't know what those yellow tags in fish are.
So let me elaborate, as I think it's really important. You may unintentionally become a key player in conservation one day!
What is That Yellow Tag?
It's a simple tracking device attached to fish for research purposes.
These fish are usually speckled trout and redfish, but may occasionally be largemouth bass, flounder or any other number of inshore species.
The organization ultimately responsible for these tags is TAG Louisiana, part of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
TAG Louisiana uses volunteers to tag these fish. In turn, they get to see where the fish swim and how they grow.
It's not a STAR Tag
Are you familiar with the Statewide Tournament and Angler's Rodeo (STAR)?
It's put on by the Coastal Conservation Association each year.
If you catch a fish with a red tag in its back can win you a pickup truck or bay boat. Pretty cool, right? But yellow tags are not STAR tags. STAR tags are red.
You get a reward
The idea is that the fish will eventually be recaptured by an angler, who will notice the tag and call the 1-800 number to report the fish's length and location.
Don't worry, they don't need the exact spot, just the body of water the fish was caught in! In turn, that angler gets free swag in the mail.
You don't have to throw the fish back
Some believe it is against the law to keep a tagged speck or red. This simply isn't true. It's ok to keep them, after all, you caught it.
If I had to choose between keeping a tagged fish or letting it go, I am going to let it go so it can continue to keep soldiering on for science.
I caught a tagged redfish in the beginning of February and you know I let him go!
Taggers invest a lot of time, money and effort into tagging, so why not scratch their back and let the fish go? No one is starving when they go fishing.
When you put the tagged fish back in the water, you are making the decision to be a team player.
Now, if I had to choose between someone keeping my tagged fish and not reporting it or reporting it and letting it hit ice, I would choose that they call the 1-800 number and make a tasty poboy.
Are you interested in tagging?
Check out my article on how to become a citizen scientist and contribute to the marsh.