Tagged bass tell their stories at Lake St. Clair

Kentucky angler Mark Menendez caught a bass with a strange attachment on its lip during Thursday’s first round of the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair.

But it was no cause for concern.

In fact, it was a sign that fish are living and growing well.

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been tagging fish here at Lake St. Clair for years,” said Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. conservation director and a longtime fisheries biologist. “They set out these gigantic nets and they catch all sorts of different kinds of fish. Then they put these little stainless-steel jaw tags on them.”

The tags, which are harmless to the fish, are engraved with a phone number and a serial number. When anglers catch a tagged fish, they can visit this site for a variety of valuable information.

“You can enter that tag number with where you caught it and the date and all that,” Gilliland said. “They will send you back an email and tell you when that fish was netted, when it was tagged and what part of the lake they set their nets in.”

The email will also tell anglers how big the fish was when it was originally tagged.

“That tells you how much your fish grew from that time,” Gilliland said. “It’s just some great feedback for the anglers and a way that anglers can help DNR out with their bass management program.”