Scientists at the University of Mississippi need the help of fishermen on a four-year cooperative project to study the movement and behavior of black and white crappie in Mississippi lakes.
“The project is important because it will help us better understand the behavior of the game fish in Sardis and other Mississippi reservoirs,” said Glenn Parsons, UM professor of biology and head researcher on the project. “We are studying movement patterns, spawning and habitat.”
One challenge the team faces, however, is retrieving the radio-tagged fish. Fishermen need to return the tags to the university’s Department of Biology if they catch a tagged fish, Parsons said.
The tags cost approximately $250 apiece but can be reused. Tagged fish are identifiable by an orange streamer tag inserted into the back of the fish. The radio tag is attached to the top fin.
“We would like for them to keep the transmitter, keep the fish if it’s legal size,” said Caleb Gaston, graduate assistant to Parsons. “Pull the transmitter and orange tag off the fish, give us a call and bring it in, or we can arrange to pick it up so that we can use it on another fish.”
Parsons asks that fishermen only release tagged fish if they are still alive.
“If the fish is dead, then our radio tag is on the bottom of the lake,” Parsons said. “This really doesn’t do us any good.”
The names of fishermen who return a tag will be entered into a drawing for a rod and reel giveaway at the end of the season.
The research project is funded through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. This is the second year of the four-year grant, and Parsons said there is still a lot to learn at Sardis.
“I’m trying to do a weekly map of where fish are found and post it on the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks homepage so people can look up where the fish are moving around,” Gaston said.
For more information on the project, visit http://home.mdwfp.com.