SAGINAW, Mich. — Michigan anglers could win thousands of dollars fishing in the Saginaw Bay as part of the state Natural Resources Department’s annual drive.

The department recently tagged and released 3,000 walleye in the bay’s tributary rivers to incentivize anglers to help monitor the species’ movements, survival and harvest rates, the Saginaw News reported . About 20 percent of the tags contain a $100 reward when reported.

The cash rewards began several years ago, but the department has tagged more than 100,000 walleye since 1981, according to Dave Fielder, the agency’s fisheries research biologist. The department pays out between $3,000 and $5,000 on the tagging operation each year, he said.

The walleye are found along the smaller tributary rivers for the next week or so before the species returns to the bay, Fielder said.

“Right now is really a unique time,” said Chuckie Militello, owner of Chuckies Bait and Tackle in Hampton Township. “I was fishing yesterday, we must have caught 15, 20 walleye right at the mouth of the Saginaw River. Right now is a good time for even a novice to go out and catch some walleye.”

Increased reporting ensures more accurate data so that fisheries managers know whether they’re harvesting too much walleye, according to Fielder.

“We are very appreciative to those who take the time to report them,” Fielder said. “We couldn’t do it without their participation.”

Information from: The Saginaw News,

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