External tag and sutures on Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass that is part of the new acoustic tag study.
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Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass new external tag identifying a bass with an internal acoustic tag.
Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass new external tag identifying a bass with an internal acoustic tag.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is conducting an acoustic tagging study on Smallmouth Bass (SMB) in Lake St. Clair. The goals of this study are to better understand Smallmouth Bass distribution through the lake, habitat use, survival and ultimately to ensure the continued sound management of this world-class resource. Anglers are asked to be on the lookout for these and other tagged fish.

Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass internal and external acoustic tags with tag number location.
Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass internal and external acoustic tags with tag number location.

The Michigan DNR received funding from a grant by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the Sportfish Restoration Act to expand acoustic tagging of SMB in Lake St. Clair. They’ll be tagging approximately 115 fish per year for the next two seasons starting in 2024. “Fish tagged with an acoustic tag will receive a different, and what I hope will be more obvious external tag (see images). These tags will be surgically implanted in the belly through the incision used to implant the acoustic tag,” says Michigan DNR Fisheries Research Biologist Jan-Michael Hessenauer, Ph.D.

Most importantly, if you catch a tagged smallmouth bass, you should note the tag number (see images), and report it via the Michigan DNR web-based report form at www.michigan.gov/taggedfish, or call/text the phone number on the tag.

If you can include additional details like fish length, date, time and location of capture that would be appreciated as well. This information will assist the Dr. Hessenhauer and the Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station in their efforts to better understand smallmouth bass distribution and movement throughout the Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, St. Clair River and Lake Erie (possibly) system.

External tag and sutures on Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass that is part of the new acoustic tag study.
External tag and sutures on Lake St. Clair smallmouth bass that is part of the new acoustic tag study.

If you would normally harvest the smallmouth bass when you catch it, you should continue fishing with your normal behavior. If you do harvest the bass, please keep the tags and report the tag number. If you would normally release the bass then release. Please do not remove the external tag if you are releasing the bass.

This study could provide very valuable information on smallmouth bass within the system, as it has with other acoustically tagged species. Let us know here at GreatLakesBass.com if you catch one of these bass with pictures if you would too! We’re hoping to keep up-to-date on how this study progresses. Let us know how much the bass weighed if you pass this information along if you are able to weigh the bass. Please DO report the tagged fish to the Michigan DNR as your first priority though.

Lake St. Clair Smallmouth Bass Acoustic Study Flyer

Acoustic tagged smallmouth bass Lake St. Clair flier Michigan DNR
Acoustic tagged smallmouth bass Lake St. Clair flier – Michigan DNR

If You Catch a Tagged Fish:

  1. Note tag number, date/time and location of capture
  2. Please do NOT remove external tag if you release the bass
  3. If you harvest the fish, please keep the tags
  4. Report your tag numbers

Note: All pictures courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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