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Q & A
Tagging Fish
Question
When I was in the tackle shop last night I saw a fish tagging kit for sale and got to be thinking that maybe I would tag all the trout I caught this coming season to see what would happen to them. Would the Commission like me to do that and let you know if I re-catch some of the tagged fish? Also, what kind of tags do you recommend?
Answer
Commission regulations prohibit anglers from tagging fish taken from Commonwealth waters. The only exceptions relate to an ongoing cooperative nursery tagging program or for activities pursuant to a scientific collectors permit. Although it's legal to tag fish that you purchase from a commercial source and stock, you must prove the source for such fish.

Tagging is anything but positive for the fish and even when done by experienced taggers can cause problems for the fish. Depending on the type of tag used, the process can result in the skin or body cavity being punctured. This can lead to infection and even a slow death. In fact, even in our own research we don't tag except as a last resort.

Also, any results from tagging fish have to be viewed with question: Did the tagging cause the fish to behave in a manner that it wouldn't have been had it simply been caught and immediately released. Tagging can disrupt normal behavior including feeding, swimming and even hiding.

We don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm for doing some amateur research. Actually, doing so might even help your "stream smarts." Depending on the species you may be able to recognize individual fish without tagging. Trout are easy compared to bass. On trout look at the orientation of spots and related marks. Like snowflakes, no two trout will be alike. Keep a detailed log of where you catch fish, what time of day, the weather conditions, the water temperature, your fishing method. At the end of the season you'll have a nice record of your activities to look back on and you'll likely discover some patterns that will make you a more productive angler.

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