Returning Tagged Fish For Cash

Photo by CDFW
Photo by CDFW

In our March issue of California Sportsman, we’ll preview the upcoming Lake Isabella Fishing Derby, which in the past stocked tagged trout that meant cash prizes for contestants catching them. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also encouraging Northern California salmon and steelhead anglers to also keep on the lookout for tags affixed to fish.

From the CDFW:

Successful north coast steelhead and salmon anglers could catch a $10-50 reward for returning their fish tags this season. Of the more than 4,500 fish that were tagged, 3,000 are eligible for a cash reward.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) uses information gathered from the tags applied to Chinook, coho and steelhead in the Trinity River system to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in estimates. The timely return of tags to CDFW is critical because the data is also needed for the annual season setting process.

Reward tags are clearly marked, though any tag returned is appreciated. The information non-reward tags is equally important to the process.  When the tag is returned, CDFW will send you information about where and when your fish was tagged, in addition to any reward for which you might qualify.

Anglers can download the tag return form

Tags should be taped to the completed form and returned to:

5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA  95521

Please remove the knot from the tag to ensure your envelope makes it through the USPS mail sorting process intact.

Tags need to be received by about the end of April, but the sooner the better for the Chinook tags. For additional information, please contact Mary Claire Kier at