PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is implanting radio tags into a small percentage of hatchery-raised trout that will be stocked into the East Fork of the Black River in the White Mountains to examine stocked trout movement and fate.
The stockings begin in May and will coincide with the summer trout stocking schedule.
If you catch a trout with external tags (as pictured) you may keep OR release the fish. These fish are safe for human consumption.
If you catch a tagged fish, please call the number on the colored tag () with the following information:
- Location of the caught trout
- Identification number on the colored external tag
- Date the fish was caught
Tagged fish include a colored external tag (top), and radio tag with its incision (bottom).
Colored external tag with identification number (top) and phone number.
If you choose to keep a trout, please return the internal radio tag to any Arizona Game and Fish Department office or employee. But treat the fish as any other catch. You may consume the fish!
The Department can estimate catch rates (the number of fish anglers catch and keep). However, we cannot answer important questions such as: How long do trout live after being stocked? Do stocked trout move to a different area of the stream after being stocked? If they do move, do they move upstream or downstream?
These are important questions the Department will answer by using radio telemetry, which will help develop better stocking practices for improved angler use and satisfaction. So how does it work?
Each fish will have a unique identification number, which is printed on the colored tag and the implanted radio tag (see pictures). Each radio tag emits a beep, every two seconds, on a specific radio frequency. With a special receiver tuned to each specific radio frequency, we can locate each individually tagged trout. The signal can be transmitted about one kilometer. As we get closer to the tag, the signal, or beep, will get louder.
With this equipment, the Department can locate each tagged fish, and determine how far the fish has moved, if and when the fish died, or if it was caught and removed from the stream. This allows us to study the fish, and anglers to enjoy catching and consuming them. A similar trout-tagging project took place two years ago on the East Verde River.
So remember, if you are fishing along the East Fork of the Black River and catch a trout with these tags, you may keep and eat the fish. Just call to report the catch, and please return the radio tag to any AZGFD office or employee.