HAMPTON — Volunteers were recently recognized for their efforts in helping tag and release fish in Virginia’s waterways.
At a recent celebration held at Bass Pro Shop, located at 1972 Power Plant Pkwy. in Hampton, volunteers of the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP) were recognized for their efforts to tag 19,160 fishes and record 1,473 recaptures throughout 2021.
Ed Shepherd of Yorktown was recognized for having the greatest number of overall tags (totaling more than 6,000), recaptures, as well as tagging the most Black Sea Bass and Speckled Trout. Mr. Shepherd was also the runner up for tagging the most Summer Flounder, with that honor going to Scott Vinson of Williamsburg. Mr. Vinson was the runner up in overall recaptures and tagging Speckled Trout. He was also the recipient of the Support for Experimental Tags alongside Bryan Lewis of Bealeton.
Jorj and Hayden Head of Seaford were recognized for tagging the most Cobia, with Brian and Troy Watkins of Poquoson as the runners up. Carl Stover of Yorktown was the runner up for tagging the most Red Drum during the data collecting period. Ken Neil of Seaford, along with Danny Noland of Hopewell, was awarded for 26 years of service to the program.
Other categories included the tagging of Black Drum, Sheepshead, Spadefish, Tautog, and Triggerfish. Additionally, Rob Collins of Norfolk was recognized for the most species tagged, having done so for all ten species.
VGFTP was founded in 1995 and is a cooperative project between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). According to the program’s website, its overall goal is to train and maintain a group of experienced recreational anglers who volunteer time to tag and release fish that they catch. The program is primarily funded through revenues received from Virginia’s saltwater recreational fishing licenses in addition to the Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program through VIMS.
Since its founding the VGFTP has tagged over 385,000 fishes and contributed vital data for the management of these specific marines species.
For more information on the VGFTP, please visit its website.