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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: What should I do if I catch a tagged fish?

Q. I’ve heard that several catfish tagged in Manitoba have been caught in the Red River near Grand Forks. What should I do if I catch one of the tagged fish?

A. The abundance of catfish with Manitoba tags has been perhaps the most interesting fishing story of the summer — not only on the Red River, but across the region.

I know of nearly a dozen tagged catfish from Manitoba that have been caught in the past few weeks from Drayton, N.D., to Grand Forks.

Manitoba launched the tagging study in 2012, partnering with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to tag channel catfish along the Canadian portion of the Red River.

Anglers, myself included, long had suspected cats from the lower Red in Manitoba made major upstream moves, especially during high water, when they can cross major barriers such as the St. Andrews Lock and Dam in Lockport, Man., and the Drayton Dam in North Dakota.

This summer’s prolonged flooding provided ideal conditions for cats to head upstream, and that’s exactly what the tagged fish appear to be doing. Many of the tagged fish also are noticeably bigger than the average cats from the Grand Forks portion of the river, which suggests tagged fish aren’t the only ones making the run from Manitoba.

If you catch a tagged catfish — the tags are inserted near the dorsal fin — write down the number, the size of the fish and where you caught it, and report the catch by calling the number on the tag. You also can email Stephen Siddons, the Nebraska graduate student who’s overseeing the fieldwork, at

Don’t remove the tag.

To date, Siddons said more than 9,000 catfish have been tagged along the Manitoba portion of the Red from the mouth to the Canada-U.S. border. Siddons said tag returns also have been reported from the Sheyenne River in North Dakota and the Red Lake River in Minnesota.

If you have a question for Talkin’ with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

(701) 780-1148