Report a Tagged Fish

If you caught a tagged calico bass, barred sand bass, or spotted sand bass, report it here to be entered into a monthly raffle where a lucky winner will win a $200 gas giftcard!

We now have an app to report tagged bass! Visit this site to download for Android or iPhone.


November 6, 2013 – After our final 2013 tagging trip, we now have over 9,000 bass tagged from Imperial Beach to Long Beach! Thanks to all of the boat charters, crew members, and amazing volunteers who made it possible. Stay tuned for announcements on our next tagging season June – July 2014.

January 26, 2013 – Thanks to everyone who came out to tag at the 18th annual SDA Open Bay Bass tournament! With the help of the San Diego Anglers, we tagged over 160 bass in the San Diego Bay. Great work!

January 25, 2013 – Congratulations to Eric McCully for winning our December raffle for tag recapture reports. He caught 8 tagged fish in one day in La Jolla on December 6, 2012. We will be sending him a $200 gas card!

About the Project

SDOF is working with Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and recreational fishermen to tag over 10,000 fish (kelp bass, barred sand bass and spotted sand bass). Funded by the Collaborative Fisheries West and the Ocean Protection Council and administered by California Sea Grant, this intensive tagging project will help us better understand their population abundance, size structure and movement. The collected data will also help evaluate the effectiveness of the new MPAs implemented in the Southern California region.

The three species of interest are the kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus), barred sand bass (P. nebulifer) and spotted bay bass (P. maculatofasciatus). These species, particularly kelp bass, also known as calico bass, are among the most popular sportfishes in Southern California. In 2013, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing new limits on recreational catches of these three saltwater bass species to help populations recover from decades of fishing and 14 years of mostly unfavorable oceanic conditions. Currently the population status of these fish are currently either in debate (kelp bass, barred sand bass) or virtually unknown (spotted sand bass), so findings from this study will provide crucial management guidance. Population estimates generated from this study will be essential for the development of a future fishery management plan and/or stock assessment for any of these three species.

Beginning in July 2012, this two-year Coastal Angler Tagging Cooperative project will involve a collaborative effort between scientists, recreational anglers, volunteers, and several organizations. SDOF’s role is to coordinate the public outreach for the project in the following ways:

1) Educating the public about tagging research at local events such as fishing tournaments and fishing shows

This grant will provide continued support for tagging fish at sportfishing tournaments. Since the three species of concern are the fish most commonly caught at these tournaments, it is easy to tag fish after they have already been caught. In February 2012 during the San Diego Anglers’ Open Bay Bass Tournament, 400 bass were tagged and then transferred to a tank, where they were held for a week to document mortalities from being brought up from depth and handled. All the fish survived and were released, marking the safety and effectiveness of the tagging process. It is hoped that in next year’s tournaments, anglers will tag new fish and even catch previously tagged fish. SDOF plans to collaborate with 8 different tournaments over the next two years to tag even more fish.

2) Holding quarterly award events for fishermen who report recaptured fish

We urge fishermen to report any tagged calico, barred sand bass, or spotted sand bass that they caught to provide Department of Fish and Widlife with as much data as possible to make an accurate population assessment. To add incentive, SDOF holds monthly raffles where a winner wins a $200 gas gift card. Fishermen can enter their tags, the dates and locations of the caught fish, and their contact info at this site to be entered into the drawing.

3) Chartering local sportfishing vessels and recruiting volunteers to assist with the fishing and tagging

Volunteers can sign up for free chartered tagging trips to go out with Scripps scientists at 6 locations around San Diego: Dana Point/San Onofre, La Jolla, Point Loma, Imperial Beach, Mission Bay, and San Diego Bay. Because these fishing trips are solely for research purposes, these trips also have special clearance to fish and tag in the new South Coast Marine Protected Areas, a normally restricted area. Anglers and volunteers will catch, tag and release fish, and record key information such as fish size, the gear used to catch the fish, and whether a fish is suffering from barotrauma (pressure-induced injury). Some fish will be released into pens to document mortality rates from catch-and-release practices. These events are very popular because up to hundreds of large fish are caught in a trip!

The next season of tagging will be June to July 2014. Stay tuned!

Find out more about upcoming trips on this site.

In addition to these tag-and-recapture programs, 50 barred sand bass will be caught at a known spawning aggregation in the new South La Jolla Marine Reserve and surgically implanted with acoustic tags. These fish will be tracked via a deployed listening array for up to a year.

In addition to collecting data via sport tournaments and chartered party boats, private boat owners will also help scientists catch and tag the one species that is normally not caught in coastal waters – the spotted bay bass, in San Diego Bay and Mission Bay.

4) Working with the press to spread public awareness and marine resource management

Ultimately, the success of this project will hinge on the ability to educate and motivate anglers to report found tags. A major focus of this project is thus to broadly engage the recreational fishing community in the research – how it will work, why it is needed and why it will ultimately benefit the sport fishery by ensuring its long-term sustainability.

To assist in this effort, researchers plan to develop a Smartphone app that fishers can use to report recovered tags and upload photos. A website and publicity via sportfishing associations will also help spread the word on the project and why participation is of value.

Data will be used to better understand fish movement patterns, including “spill over” from MPAs, and to better estimate spawning biomasses and mortality rates from predation, fishing and catch-and-release.

“I really think that if we help get the science and data, we are that much better off,” said Dwayne Patenaude, charter master of the San Diego Anglers Fishing Club, which hosts the Open Bay Bass Tournament and is also a collaborator on the project. “We are trying to be proactive. I want the managers to see that the calico bass fishery is not in trouble. The sand bass fishery is cyclical, and there is no issue with the bay bass.”

“I grew up in San Diego, fishing, diving and surfing,” said Lyall Bellquist, a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, working on the project. “I always thought that the fishermen and researchers should work together and be as transparent as possible, because we are all working ultimately toward the same goal. This grant is the perfect opportunity. I could not have designed a better request for research, in terms of what I’ve wanted to do.”

“We are proposing limiting takes so that populations can rebound when oceanic conditions become more favorable,” said California Fish and Wildlife marine biologist Erica Jarvis, a co-investigator on the project. “The study will help the department monitor the effectiveness of any regulatory change and will also help in improving stock assessments for the species.”

Other collaborating organizations on the project include: American Sportfishing Association, Fred Hall and Sportfishing Association of California.