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Lake Superior Area Fisheries Office
5351 North Shore Drive
Duluth, MN 55804
tel. 218-525-0853   fax. 218-525-0855
e-mail. superior.fisheries@dnr.state.mn.us
Please include your email address in the body of your message
Diagram and explanation of fin clips for Minnesota's rainbow trout management
Notice the healed clip of the adipose fin.

Fin clipping is used by the Minnesota DNR as a means to identify hatchery-reared fish. The fin clips are used quite extensively in the steelhead and Kamloops management plan. These fin clips are mainly used to determine if a fish is a stocked or wild fish and to let fishermen know which fish are harvestable.

The link below will take you to the MN DNR description of the fin clips. Please, please, read up on the annual fishing regulations as well.

Know your fin clips!

Online fish tag reporting through the Minnesota DNR website - click on the state
Lake Superior Steelehad & Kamloop's Rainbow trout tags & fin clips

Individual numbered tags, like these, are inserted at the base of the dorsal fin on hatchery (clipped) and wild steelhead that are caught at the Knife and French river fish traps. Grey numbered tags are used on steelhead that return to the Knife River and yellow numbered tags are used at the French River trap. Individual numbered tags are used to gather information on steelhead movement patterns within Lake Superior, occurrence of repeat spawning, age and growth, and trap efficiency.

Unnumbered plastic tags are given to Kamloops strain rainbow trout that are captured at the French River fish trap. The color tags used changes each year (table below). These tags quickly identify which fish have already been captured and used in spawning operations at the French River Hatchery. Please refer to the current fishing regulations as to which fish you can harvest .

©MN Dept. of Natural Resources
©MN Dept. of Natural Resources

If you catch a tagged steelhead, leave the tag in the fish and record the number. Report the tag number, along with the date, location, and if the fish was harvested or released to Lake Superior Fisheries. Unclipped steelhead cannot be harvested, even if they have a tag. Contact eh MN DNR with the data you have collected, tey can provide you with information on when and where the fish was tagged including the age of the fish.

In April 2006, archival tags were surgically implanted into 50 Kamloops adults and 26 steelhead adults; half males and half females. The Kamloops for this study were captured during the spawning season in the French River trap, and the steelhead were captured in the Knife River trap. Not including fish that were recaptured within the first month of tagging, we have recaptured 10 steelhead and seven Kamloops, meeting the expected return rates for both strains. Unfortunately, two of the Kamloops and one of the steelhead were missing the internal tags. It is not uncommon for internal tags to be passed by some fish species. To obtain more data from Kamloops, eight additional fish were tagged and released in May 2009.

A close-up of the back of a steelhead showing the two long, yellow T-bar reward tags on each side of the dorsal fin and the grey T-bar Knife River identification tag.

In May 2009, one tagged female steelhead was caught in the Stewart River, and the tag had just over two years of data. This fish had been one of the largest fish tagged in 2006, and was ten years old when it was recaptured. We anticipate at least one Kamloops and one steelhead will be recaptured in spring 2010.
read more
©MN Dept. of Natural Resources
©MN Dept. of Natural Resources
read more

 a coded wire tag on a finger, and detecting of a CWT in the head of a female steelhead.

©MN Dept. of Natural Resources
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