Wild Chesapeake: Virginia Fish Tagging Champion

Chesapeake outdoor sportsman Captain Chris Dollar brings the latest wildlife news to the Bay Bulletin.

The 2018 Virginia Top Tagger Award goes to…Ed Shepherd with more than 5,000 tags! You read that correctly; the man tagged five thousand fish in a single year. In fact, the Yorktown, Virginia resident has dominated the state’s popular tagging program, having easily tagged more than 25,000 fish over the years, according to Lewis Gillingham, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament (VSWFT).

Efforts by these top taggers produce the majority of the program’s data on habitat use and movement patterns of target species, according to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), which coordinates the program along with VSWFT.

In 2018, scores of dedicated anglers tagged more than 17,600 fishes and recorded more than 1,100 recaptures to provide information that helps the cooperative effort between the Marine Advisory Program at VIMS and the Virginia Saltwater Tournament. State saltwater license funds are used to train volunteer anglers to tag recreationally important finfishes. Fisheries managers up and down the coast are increasingly using data gleaned by sport anglers who tag and recapture tagged fish to help better manage gamefish stocks. 

Here’s the full list of the top taggers for 2018:

Overall Tags

Winner: Ed Shepherd (Yorktown)

Runner Up: Scott Vinson (Williamsburg)

Overall Recaptures

Winner: Ed Shepherd

Runner Up: Scott Vinson

Black Drum

Winner: Jim Robinson (Virginia Beach) 

Runner Up: Scott Vinson

Black Sea Bass

Winner: Ed Shepherd

Runner Up: Rob Collins (Norfolk)


Winners: Jorj & Hayden Head (Seaford)

Runner Up: Wes Blow (Newport News)


Winner: Ed Shepherd

Runner Up: Scott Vinson

Red Drum

Winner: Charlie Church (Virginia Beach)

Runner Up: Tie—Cachin Prutsman (Virginia Beach) & David Griffin (Cape Charles)


Winner: Joe Hudgins (Chesapeake)


Winner: John Knight (Virginia Beach)

Runner Up: Charles Laurens (Virginia Beach)

Speckled Trout

Winner: Ed Shepherd

Runner Up: Sheldon Arey


Winner: Rob Collins

Runner Up: David Gladysiewicz (Greenbackville)


Winner: Bill Knapp (Virginia Beach)

Runner Up: Rob Collins

Bay Bulletin congratulates all of the winners who help fisheries managers keep track of fish in the Bay.

Meanwhile,the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is looking for public input for its next five-year strategic plan.

You have until Friday, March 8 if you want to weigh in on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan Survey. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and allows recreational and commercial anglers, scientists, members of the fishing industry and the general public to comment on the Council’s mission and the goals that will guide the Council’s management activities over the next five years.

Click here to take the survey. All responses are anonymous, and the data gathered will be analyzed and presented.