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F&G tagging smallmouth bass to evaluate catch and harvest rates

by MATTHEW CORSI Contributing Writer
| May 4, 2021 1:00 AM

Anglers on Lake Pend Oreille are asked to report any tagged smallmouth bass they may catch during 2021-2022.

The study aims to help Idaho Panhandle fishery biologists who are seeking to better understand what proportion of smallmouth bass are caught and released or harvested. Beyond the harvest statistics, this data will also allow biologists to gain better insight into the survival rates and population abundance of smallmouth bass in the Lake Pend Oreille system. For this study, biologist are focusing on bass over 14 inches.

Beginning this spring, smallmouth bass will be tagged throughout the lake with external, orange plastic tubing (Floy or T-bar tags) located near the dorsal fin. Each tag will be labeled with a unique number that identifies that fish, as well as a telephone number to report the tag to number to Fish and Game.

Tag numbers should be reported by either calling the number printed on each tag (Tag-You’re-It: 1-866-258-0338) or online (tag.idaho.gov). The fish does not have to be harvested and the tag does not have to be removed to report the tag number to IDFG.

To report a tag number without harvesting or removing the tag, we recommend recording the tag number or taking a clear picture on your smart phone. However, tags can be removed from the live smallmouth bass by cutting the monofilament strand at the base of the plastic tubing to save for reporting. Reward tags can be reported online or by phone, but the tag must be removed and mailed to Fish and Game in order for an angler to collect the reward.

Reward tags may be mailed to: Fish Tag Returns, 1414 E. Locust Lane, Nampa, ID 83686

This study is dependent on anglers reporting the date and general location where they catch each tagged fish, whether the fish was harvested or released, and the length of the fish. Every reported tag number provides valuable data that helps Fish and Game better understand the smallmouth bass population. Ultimately, this information will allow biologists to better monitor smallmouth bass in Lake Pend Oreille and evaluate if current management strategies, such as existing fishing regulations, are adequate or should be adjusted to maintain or possibly improve the smallmouth bass fishery.

Matthew Corsi is fisheries principal fishery research biologist for Idaho Department of Fish & Game.