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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - to Report a Tag

Marine Fisheries

How to Report a Tag

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Report tag online

The N.C. Division of Marine fisheries’ tags display the Tagging Program’s phone number, along with the tag number. You can report a tagged fish whether you keep it or release it alive. Remember, each reported tag receives a reward. Here are some tips when reporting a tag:

Information We Need:
Species, tag number, date, location of capture, length offish, fate of fish, gear used.
  • Species
    Example: Striped Bass

  • Tag Number
    Example: G12345. The tag is an alpha alpha-numeric code.
    — Cut the tag(s) off (don't pull them out), and record the tag information (just in case you misplace the tag before reporting). Please cut off tag(s) even if fish is released to ensure accurate reporting of tag number. If the tag is red, it must be cut off and returned to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 to receive the $100 reward. Please cut the tag off the fish as close to the body as possible. If you plan to release the fish, do not try to remove the tag by pulling it out of the fish.

    — If the tag has algae growth, do not scrape the algae off. Let the tag soak in warm water and soap until the algae comes off. If unsure, please call us at 800-682-2632 for additional instructions, and mail tag to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.
  • Date
    Example: 1/1/2014

  • Location of capture, including water body and nearest landmark and Latitude/Longitude, if possible.
    Example: The mouth of Goose Creek, near the no dumping sign. OR  35.339992, -76.618901

  • Length and type of measurement (total or fork length / measured or estimated)/ inches or millimeters).
    Example: 12.5 inches

    — A careful measurement is very useful to scientists. When you measure your fish, try to use one of the standard methods described below (fork length or total length). Don't pull a tape measure over the fish; instead lay the fish down on top of a ruler or tape measure. All total length measurements should start at the tip of the snout and end at the tip of the tail. (See diagram at right).

    — You can measure the fish even if you're planning to release it alive. Just handle it gently, with wet hands or wet gloves, and get it back in the water as quickly as possible.

    measure fish diagram

    How to measure a fish

  • Fate of the fish (kept it, released it alive, etc.)
    Example: Released

  • Gear used for capture
    Example: Hook and line

Be alert: Tags are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, so they don't change the fish's behavior. That means that you might not see one if you're not looking for it. Also, between 10 percent - 25 percent of the division’s yellow-tagged fish are double tagged. Please check both sides of the fish for tags.

Rewards for tag returns

If a yellow tag and species information (listed above) is reported, individuals can choose either a hat, $5 or other rewards (subject to availability). A letter and personalized certificate will also be mailed stating where and when the tagged fish was released, days at large, distance traveled, length information and more. In addition, all tags reported will be entered in the division’s end-of-year drawing.

If a red tag is returned with the supplemental information (listed above), individuals are eligible for a $100 reward. The tag must be cut and returned to the division address below to receive the reward. In addition to the $100, a letter and personalized certificate will be mailed stating where and when the fish was tagged and released, days at large, distance traveled, length information and more.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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