Walleye Tagging Study Will Continue in 2011

The Department will be tagging walleyes again this spring at several locations across the Commonwealth. The tagging is part of an ongoing study designed to learn more about angler catch rates and harvest of walleyes. In 2011, tagging is planned for Lake Brittle, Lake Orange, Philpott Reservoir, Hungry Mother Lake, and the upper New River.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish and return the tag will receive a cash reward of 20 dollars. The tag will be located near the fish's dorsal fin. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the plastic attachment with scissors or a knife. The fish can then be released or harvested (minimum length limits apply). Successful anglers can return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Important catch data include the contact information of the angler and the answers to a few simple questions. What were the date, time and general location of the catch? Was the fish harvested or released? Were you fishing for walleyes? Finally, did you catch other walleyes? Postage paid envelopes for tag returns are available at Department offices and local tackle shops.

The information gathered from successful anglers will help biologists make important decisions about managing walleye fisheries in Virginia. In 2010, a total of 900 walleyes were tagged at six locations across the Commonwealth. Successful anglers returned tags from 140 of these fish. Tag return rates ranged from 10 to 21 percent among the locations, with an overall average of 17 percent. Lake Orange had the highest rate of return at 21 percent. The other small lakes and the upper New River had similar return rates (16 to 19 percent). Walleyes were a bit harder to catch in the larger reservoirs, which had return rates ranging from 10 to 16 percent.

Biologists also determined that only 57 percent of anglers who caught a tagged fish in 2010 returned the tag. So, the actual percentage of walleyes caught each year by anglers is much higher than the tag returns indicate. Every data point is important to the research project, so if you catch a tagged walleye in 2011, please take the time to return the tag and catch information and collect your reward.