Shark Research Program

Publications & Resources

Invertebrate Picture Guide

Interesting Gulf & Coastal Fishes

Cobia Top Tagging Anglers

  • 2004 - Tim Falzone, Gulf Breeze, FL
  • 2005 - Nick Drinnen Englewood, FL
  • 2006 - Tom Stephens Sarasota, FL
  • 2007 - Chris Lister (Pensacola, FL
  • 2008 - Brennan Moore (Orange Beach, Ala.)

Cobia Top Tagging Captains

  • 2004 -Myles Colley III Pensacola, FL
  • 2005 - Myles Colley III Pensacola, FL
  • 2006 - Tom Stephens Sarasota, FL
  • 2007 - Tommy Holmes Pensacola, FL
  • 2008 - Bo Keough Orange Beach, AL

Sport Fish Tag and Release Program

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) has been a leader in angler-cooperative marine sport fish tag and release since 1989. Thousands of volunteer anglers across the northern Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States have assisted GCRL researchers with investigating the movement patterns of important fishery species: cobia, tripletail and spotted seatrout (speckled trout). Download this brochure for details on the tag and release program.

The Sport Fish Tag and Release Program relies on the fishing community to tag fish and report recaptures, which is vital to determining movement patterns and growth rates. The involvement of anglers in these activities provides information which is difficult to obtain by other means.

Cobia movement - tagging program

Example of data obtained from tagging program.

Tagging Kits

Participating anglers are provided with a free tagging kit, which includes tags, tag cards, a tag applicator, instruction booklet and a pencil. The type of tag used for these programs is a “dart tag.” The tag consists of a polyethylene streamer bonded to a nylon dart head made of non-toxic materials. The tag is inserted below the spinous dorsal fin of the fish. When properly inserted, the tags produce no long-term injury and can remain firmly implanted for years. Each tag is attached to a corresponding data card, on which the requested information about the catch is to be recorded. Anglers are asked to mail their data cards to the GCRL within a reasonable time period so the data can be archived.

Cobia with research tag attached

Cobia with tag attached

How to Participate

Anglers interested in tagging any of the target species should call or email Dyan Gibson at 228.818.8818 or to request the free tagging kits.

If you Catch a Tagged Fish

If you catch a tagged fish, please record the tag number, the location, and date. Measure the length of the fish and note it's overall condition. Provide the information to Dyan Gibson at 228.818.8818 or While anglers are encouraged to release tagged fish after taking the tag number and measuring them, no regulations prohibit keeping legal tagged fish.

Species Targeted


(Also called lemonfish, ling, and cobio)

Cobia, lemonfish, ling tagging program
Cobia General Movements

More than 1,600 anglers have received tagging kits for cobia since 1989. A total of 15,650 cobia have been tagged and released with 1,004 of those fish (6.4 percent) reported as recaptured through 2008.

Spotted Seatrout

(Speckled Trout)
Spotted Seatrout tagging program

Distances Traveled by Tagged
Spotted Seatrout

2014 Update: GCRL is no longer tagging spotted seatrout. It is possible that anglers might still encounter a fish tagged in previous years.

Of the more than 17,000 spotted seatrout tagged and released from 1995-2008, approximately three percent were recaptured and reported. Tagging results revealed that more than 90 percent of tagged fish had moved less than 10 miles upon recapture. Only three fish had traveled 30 miles or more. This supports the Gulf-wide notion that spotted seatrout are generally resident fish within the coastal waters of each state.



Tripletail, blackfish tagging program

More than 3,400 tripletail have been tagged and released from 1996 through April 2014. Of those fish, 352 have been recaptured, resulting in an astounding recapture rate of 10.4 percent.

Most of the information gained through this research pertains to tripletail occurring in Florida waters, as 78 percent of all fish have been tagged along the Florida Peninsula. Tagging data show that tripletail occur year-round in Florida waters but only occur seasonally in the northern Gulf, having been tagged from May to October in Alabama and Mississippi waters.


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