BlogOctober 2021

How Game Fish Tagging Programs Work

How Game Fish Tagging Programs Work

By Debbie Hanson

Oct 05, 2021

How game fish tagging programs work, what is fish tagging, ways a fish tagging kit helps with management of game fish, game fish tracking, conservation

Maybe you’ve heard about game fish tagging programs and wondered, “What is fish tagging and how does tagging work?” Tagging programs are important tools in the management of game fish species and populations. If you’re interested in taking an active role in conservation, learn more about the methods, fish tracking, and benefits of game fish tagging.

Game Fish Tagging Methods

State conservation agencies will often require you to register before participating in a game fish tagging program. Once your registration is approved, it’s likely that you will have to attend a workshop on fish tagging and proper handling techniques. Fish tagging supplies, including measuring boards, plastic tags (with unique id numbers), and instructions, are also issued to tagging volunteers at these workshops.

Once a fish tagging kit is provided, you can catch, tag and release tagged fish for research. The details of the initial capture are recorded along with the corresponding tag number. This information is then returned to the conservation organization in charge of the tagging program. When a tagged fish is recaptured, the catch information is linked to the original tag and release, and then compared to the recapture data.


Game Fish Tagging and Tracking Systems

Game fish tagging programs are most often used to track the movement and growth of game fish. Tracking the movements of tagged fish is possible by measuring the distance and direction traveled between tagging and recapture. These movements are often be linked to other factors, such as environmental influences or migration patterns.

Benefits of Game Fish Tagging Programs

The data provided by tagging programs helps fisheries biologists understand more about fish movements or patterns, growth, habitats, and mortality rates. This information is vital to improve the management of game fish species and can help encourage catch and release best practices that contribute to healthy fish populations.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.