Tag-reporting levels for red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) caught by anglers in South Carolina and Georgia estuaries

Denson, Michael R.
Jenkins, Wallace E.
Woodward, Arnold G.
Smith, Theodore I. J.
Red drum fisheries--South Carolina , Fish tagging--South Carolina
A total of 1784 legal-size (≥356 mm TL) hatchery-produced red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) were tagged and released to estimate tag-reporting levels of recreational anglers in South Carolina (SC) and Georgia (GA). Twelve groups of legal-size fish (~150 fish/ group) were released. Half of the fish of each group were tagged with an external tag with the message “reward” and the other half of the fish were implanted with tags with the message “$100 reward.” These fish were released into two estuaries in each state (n=4); three replicate groups were released at different sites within each estuary (n=12). From results obtained in previous tag return experiments conducted by wildlife and fisheries biologists, it was hypothesized that reporting would be maximized at a reward level of $100/tag. Reporting level for the “reward”tags was estimated by dividing the number of “reward” tags returned by the number of “$100 reward” tags returned. The cumulative return level for both tag messages was 22.7 (±1.9)% in SC and 25.8 (±4.1)% in GA. These return levels were typical of those recorded by other red drum tagging programs in the region. Return data were partitioned according to verbal survey information obtained from anglers who reported tagged fish. Based on this partitioned data set, 14.3 (±2.1)% of “reward” tags were returned in SC, and 25.5 (±2.3)% of “$100 reward” tags were returned. This finding indicates that only 56.7% of the fish captured with “reward” tags were reported in SC. The pattern was similar for GA where 19.1 (±10.6)% of “reward” message tags were returned as compared with 30.1 (±15.6)% for “$100 reward” message tags. This difference yielded a reporting level of 63% for “reward” tags in GA. Currently, 50% is used as the estimate for the angler reporting level in population models for red drum and a number of other coastal finfish species in the South Atlantic region of the United States. Based on results of our study, the commonly used reporting estimate may result in an overestimate of angler exploitation for red drum.
Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Date Accessioned
Date Available
Item Format
Media Type
Item Language
South Carolina State Library
Digital Collection
South Carolina State Documents Depository
Copyright status undetermined. For more information contact, South Carolina State Library, 1500 Senate Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201.
Digital Collection
This South Carolina State Document was either saved from a document available publicly online in PDF format or converted to PDF using Adobe Acrobat X Professional.