my fishing cape cod logo

What To Do When You Catch A Tagged Striped Bass


My Experience With The Tagging Program

Since 1991, the Department of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has been awarded grants to participate in the State, and Federal Coast Wide Tagging Study. The findings of this study provide data on mortality rates, and coast wide migration of striped bass tagged in Massachusetts. Over 10,000 striped bass have been tagged in this ongoing study.

Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to assist DMF with this program. The grant allows fishermen to transport a group of DMF agents to tag fish in certain areas of Massachusetts. It’s a win-win situation for me. Essentially, I get to do all the fishing, and the DMF agents tag my catch!

Let’s break down the tagging process.

Once a fish comes on board, it is measured and tagged with a pink internal-anchor tag that has a sequential tag number with a toll-free phone line printed on it.

They also take a scale sample and then quickly release the fish.

What To Do If You Catch A Tagged Striper

The scale sample is then sent back to the DMF growth laboratory to be analyzed to estimate age, composition of catch, and rates of growth. Pretty neat stuff huh?

Most anglers are often unsure how to handle a tagged striped bass on the line. What you do is entirely up to you, (i.e. to keep or not to keep, that is the question.)

If you want to help the Massachusetts State, and Federal Coast Wide Tagging Study, please follow DMF protocol for catching a tagged striped bass. Any information would be extremely helpful in the terms of this study.

Did I mention you receive a reward for notifying DMF? Incentive! Fish On!

Here is what you should do if you catch a tagged striper:

  • check
    If you plan to release the fish, do NOT remove the external tag
  • check
    Record the tag number, date caught, location, length and weight
  • check
    If you keep a tagged fish, please save both internal and external tags
  • check
    Call the 800 number on the tag to report your data
  • check
    Call Bill Homan to receive a reward: (978) 282-0308 ext. 106

Releasing the tagged fish is extremely helpful!

Releasing tagged fish allows for recapture data, and paints a much better picture of the striped bass' migratory patterns.

Tight lines 🎣

PS - I would like to "dedicate" this article to my amazing editor, Ashley Gincauskis. Without her grammatical guidance, I would be lost at sea. 

You can also check out my tagging report from the 2017 season, when we caught and tagged 76 stripers, by clicking the post below.

76 Stripers on the Vertical Jig
Ryan Franklin As much as I love the summer, I always get excited for Fall for several reasons. For example, you[...]

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Years ago, back in the mid to late 90’s I could get some tags sent to me and tagged school bass up on Plum Island. The spaghetti tags were placed just behind the dorsal fin. How can I or we get these tags for catch and release now??

    1. I would reach out to Kim Trull via

      Kim runs the scale sampling program which you might be interested in participating in. Here’s a link with more information about the programs she runs

      She might also be able to point you in the right direction with regards to the tags. 👍🏻

  2. Nice article Franklyn. It gives one a deeper appreciation for the tagging project.

  3. I always wondered about that procedure if I ever caught one.Thanks

    1. You get a free hat for reporting it.

  4. Nice write-up! Catching a tagged fish is always a cool experience.

    1. It’s great insight into the history of the fish.


Leave a Comment