Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program

  • VGFTP Top Taggers  VGFTP 2018 top taggers were recognized on February 22 at Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, VA. Top row from L to R: Sheldon Arey, Ed Shepherd, Lewis Gillingham. Bottom row from L to R: David Griffith, Charlie Church, Cashin Prutsman  Photo: Wendy Zach
  • VGFTP Trophy  The VGFTP Top Tagger trophy along with a list of winners in previous years.  Photo: Susanna Musick/VIMS
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About the VGFTP

The Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP) is a cooperative project of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). The overall goal of the program is to train and maintain an experienced group of recreational anglers who volunteer their time and effort to tag and release their fish catch. Data on tagged and recaptured fish are summarized in annual reports that are accessible below (tag-recapture records appear in report Appendices).

The VGFTP is primarily funded with revenues from Virginia's saltwater recreational fishing license. In addition, support for the program is provided by the Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program at VIMS.

Program Goals

The VGFTP is designed to:

  • Develop a quality-oriented tagging program using recreational anglers to enhance data-collection efforts for specific species of fish;
  • Educate anglers about the need, benefits, limitations, and operation of tagging programs and other information-gathering efforts directed toward saltwater finfish, including the proper methods for reporting the recapture of tagged fish; and,
  • Reinforce efforts to educate anglers about the benefits and proper techniques for catching, handling, releasing, and tagging fish.
Program Operations

Registration is annual, beginning in January. Participation is limited to 200 anglers, and anglers are requested to renew their registration each year. Training workshops are held in March in Hampton, VA, and new anglers are required to attend to enable the directors an opportunity to interact with all program participants to help ensure the quality of their tagging efforts. The sessions teach proper fish-handling techniques and tagging techniques, procedures for the accurate and efficient reporting of tag events, and the goals and philosophy of the VGFTP. Anglers also practice inserting tags in fish to clarify questions about proper tagging technique, reinforce proper fish handling, and allow anglers to become familiar with the tagging process while under supervision. The Tagging Workshop provides an excellent learning situation through which anglers immediately benefit from their mistakes and gain confidence in their skills.

For more information about VGFTP please contact Marine Recreation Specialist and VIMS VGFTP Coordinator [[susanna, Susanna Musick]], 804-684-7166