Tagged trophy trout could earn anglers $50 at Phillips Reservoir

Phillips Reservoir - Gaston, OR (Yamhill County)

Photo Credit: ODFW

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

La GRANDE, Ore. — This spring ODFW will “sweeten the pot” for anglers at Phillips Reservoir by stocking 4,000 trophy-sized rainbow trout, some of which will be marked with tags good for $50.

Phillips Reservoir is one of five locations in Oregon this year receiving trophy trout under a new “Trophy Trout” program, developed as the result of a legislative budget note focused on boosting rural economies.

The first batch of 2,000 extra-large trout will be released at Phillips Reservoir in early May, followed by the release of an additional 2,000 trophies in early June. Of the total, 400 will be tagged with brightly colored spaghetti tags, including 40 that can be redeemed for a $50 VISA gift card.

Tim Bailey, ODFW district fish biologist in La Grande, said the tag program will not only add some excitement about fishing opportunity but will also help biologists estimate catch rates and performance of the fishery.

“The larger the fish are grown in the hatchery, the greater the cost per fish,” said Bailey, adding, “We want to make sure that the majority of the trophy trout that are released into the reservoir actually end up in the creel of our anglers.”

Bailey said 400 of the trophy trout will be tagged so ODFW can estimate the number caught. In order to make the estimate as accurately as possible, ODFW needs anglers to report all tagged trout that are caught.

Bailey noted that the reward tag system has proven to be a cost-effective method for determining the catch rates of specific groups of fish in other areas, and that is why it was selected for trophy trout at Phillips Reservoir.

“Using this method allows us to collect information that just was not possible with more traditional methods due to their expense,” Bailey said.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish have several options for reporting their catch:

Tagged fish can be harvested or released and still be eligible for prize money. If the fish is released, cut the tag off at the base rather than try to rip out the tag. Anglers can report non-reward tags in person, by mail, by phone, or on the ODFW website at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2016/04_april/042516.asp.

Reward tags must be returned either in person or by mail to
ODFW’s East Region Office
107 20th Street
La Grande, OR 97850

Look for ODFW “Tag Team” posters at boat ramps or popular fishing locations for further project and contact information.

This evaluation project is funded through a grant from the ODFW Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program.

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