Acoustic Telemetry Tagging, a Powerful Tool for LDWF

Release Date: 04/29/2013

LASS tournament tagging efforts offer a clearer, more complete picture of the spotted seatrout

(April 29, 2013) – Until now, there has been a lack of detailed scientific information about the movement of spotted seatrout, otherwise known to thousands of Louisiana anglers as speckled trout.  In the fall of 2012, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries launched an acoustic telemetry tagging project on Lake Pontchartrain to collect continuous data on individual spotted seatrout movements over time.  The data collected will give insight to seasonal migration patterns, habitat use, and how movements may vary between sexes.

In conjunction with the Department’s tagging efforts, the Louisiana Saltwater Series, sponsored by Shimano and PowerPro, will host a catch and release speckled trout tournament on Saturday, May 25, 2013, at the Mandeville Public Boat Launch and Harbor.  The tournament follows a week-long spring tagging event, where LDWF and LSU staff will implant acoustic tags in speckled trout provided by volunteer anglers before releasing them back into Lake Pontchartrain.  Some of the fish brought in to the scales at the tournament will be used as part of this program.

“Spotted seatrout are extremely common in Louisiana estuaries and coastal waters and are of considerable recreational and economic importance,” explained LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  “The spatial ecology of this species is significantly understudied, so we have developed this project to address this gap in knowledge.  Incorporating our Louisiana Saltwater Series Tournament into the program is another great way to garner support and awareness.”

Acoustic tags are much more effective for tracking fish movement than traditional tagging techniques.  Conventional tagging involves marking and releasing a fish that will hopefully be recaptured at a future date.  This method yields very few data points:  the location of the fish at initial capture and its location during potential recaptures.  All movement of the fish between recapture points – potentially months or years apart – is lost.

Volunteer anglers participate in the tagging events and transport trout to an LDWF surgery boat where fish are implanted with transmitters.  Surgery is performed as quickly as possible.  Fish are then placed in a recovery tank and are released over the side of the boat after a monitoring period to ensure they are healthy for release.

These tagged fish are very valuable to this research project, and we ask that if caught, they be released so that data can continue to be collected.  Tagged fish that are part of this program can be recognized by a blue external dart tag.  Please call the number provided on the blue tag, and report the date, time, location of catch, and health of the fish when released.  If a fish with an internal transmitter is retained, please return the transmitter to A. Ferguson, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, La. 70808.

Participating teams in the Louisiana Saltwater Series Trout Tournament may consist of up to a total of four anglers, with only two adult anglers (16 years of age and older).  In addition to 100 percent payout and prizes, we are pleased to announce the Academy Sports and Outdoors is sponsoring additional prize money including $500 for first place team, $250 for first place youth, and $250 for the extra tagged fish prize.  Teams are also allowed to bring in extra fish in addition to their weigh fish to be entered into drawings for special prizes, with the number of entries determined by the number of extra fish to be brought in to be tagged.  Extra raffle entries can also be earned for each Louisiana Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program data card presented.

Online registration at $150 per team is now open for the speckled trout tournament on  Online registration will remain open until Thursday, May 23, but interested anglers will still have the opportunity to register onsite for $200 per team. 

Tournament sponsors include Shimano, PowerPro, Daybrook Fisheries, Plaquemines Parish, Mercury Marine, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Standard Mapping, Faux Pas Prints, Marsh & Bayou, Swamp Swatter, Frabill, Stick It Anchor Pins and YETI Coolers.  A special thanks also goes out to the city of Mandeville for all of their support and assistance. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources.  For more information, visit us at on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 765-2396.