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School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Cooperative Sport Fish Tag and Release Program

tagging drum

Photo credit: Captain Kyle Johnson

The Cooperative Sport Fish Tag and Release Program is managed by the USM Center for Fisheries Research and Development (CFRD) located at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs. For more than 30 years, the program has involved the participation of thousands of volunteer recreational anglers from around the southeastern U.S. in tagging Cobia and Tripletail. In 2019, Red Drum and Spotted Seatrout were included in the program, with a focus for these two species on Mississippi coastal waters only. 

This popular, highly successful program is open to the fishing public and links participating anglers to the fish species of interest to them through their tag-and-release activities. The program serves as an avenue for volunteer anglers to provide information on the fish they tag and release, as well as on their recaptures of previously tagged fish. We encourage anglers to join the program.

A tag-recapture report, which includes a description of the fish’s movement and growth, will be sent to both the tagging angler and the recapture angler. The efforts of participating anglers provide invaluable information toward advancing the scientific understanding of movements, biology and ecology of these sport fish species. This information serves to inform fishery resource assessments, management and conservation. If you have any questions about the program, contact program staff at tagging@usm.edu or phone 228-818-8818.

The program is funded by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources through the Fish and Wildlife Service-Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Cobia and Tripletail tag kits are available to anglers fishing in coastal and off-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and east coast of the U.S. Speckled Trout and Red Drum tagging kits are available to anglers for use in Mississippi waters only.

Request Tagging kit

Each tagging kit comes with:

  • A book of 5 individually numbered tag data cards with their corresponding tags attached
  • An instructional brochure describing the tagging procedure.
  • A tag applicator and a pencil.

The most important data to record for a recaptured fish are:

  • Tag number (including the letter or letters in the prefix, e.g., RC12345)
  • Date and location of catch (coordinates and location names are both acceptable)
  • Length (fork length and total length, if applicable)
  • Information of whether or not the fish was released (with or without the tag still intact)
  • Angler’s contact information (including physical address and email)

A tag-recapture report, which includes a description of the fish’s movement and growth, will be sent to both the tagging angler and the recapture angler. Anyone reporting the catch of a previously tagged fish will receive a tag and release program magnet designed with Marty Wilson Tripletail art and a tag and release coozie.

Report a tagged fish

Species Profiles

Cobia

Tripletail

Red Drum

Spotted Seatrout