Commercial Tagging and Reporting Requirements for Tautog Start January 1, 2020

This web page has new commercial tagging and reporting requirements for tautog. Starting January 1, 2020, any commercial fisherman who harvests or possesses tautog must have a Tautog Commercial Permit and must apply a numbered tag to each tautog they land. It will also be unlawful to buy or sell untagged tautog. The following only summarizes the new regulations for commercial tautog. For full legal text, see Chapter 4 VAC 20-960-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Tautog”, which was approved at the October 22, 2019, meeting of the VMRC.

The Tautog Commercial permit can be acquired after January 1, 2020, from the Licensing Department. A $25 fee will be assessed for the tags and applicator, which is payable by a check made out to “Treasurer of Virginia”. VMRC staff will then issue tags and one applicator. Tags may not be transferred, as the range of numbered tags will be tied to each permit. If you wish to have the permit, tags, and applicator mailed to you, you can submit the "Commercial Tautog Permit and Tag Request Form", with the check for the $25 tag fee, to VMRC.

Mandatory harvest reporting will also be changed for offshore tautog trips. Prior to January 1, 2020, tautog caught in federal waters and sold to a federally permitted dealer were exempt from reporting requirements, as per Chapter 4 VAC 20-610-60 K. Tautog trips will no longer be subject to that exemption. All tautog trips in state and federal waters where tautog are landed in Virginia must be reported through the VMRC Mandatory Harvest Reporting Program with the number of tags used each day written on the report.

If you have any questions, see the attached question sheet or you can contact Alexa Kretsch at or (757) 247-2069.

Tautog Tag Questions

1) How do I get a Tautog Commercial Permit?

» After January 1, 2020, you can get a Tautog Commercial Permit and tags at the main office of the VMRC or by mailing in the Commercial Tautog Permit and Tag Request Form.

2) What is the cost of the Tautog Commercial Permit?

» A $25 tag fee will be charged for the tautog tags and applicator. The tag fee can be paid by a check made out to “Treasurer of Virginia”. This fee also covers any additional tags requested during the year.

3) How many tags will I be given?

» If you have history of tautog landings within the last 5 years, staff will issue you enough tags for the average number of fish you landed per year. If you do not have a history of harvest, staff will issue you 10 tags.
» Anyone may request more tags once they’ve used their initial allotment.
» You will be provided one tag applicator per year. If another one is needed, they are available for purchase for $25 through the National Band & Tag Company (

4) How do I tag a tautog?

» Metal strap tags are applied to the operculum of the fish with an applicator.
» To see the tags and how they are applied, you can watch this tutorial from VMRC (Youtube Video Link).
» See next section below for written instructions.

5) I hold fish for the live market. What do I do with tautog landed and reported in 2019 that I intend to sell in 2020?

» In this first year, tag all fish already in your possession with 2020 tags for legal sale but do not include those tags on 2020 harvest reports. In subsequent years, you must tag all fish at the time of harvest and report those tags for the day of harvest. All tautog tagged for a previous year must be sold by the last day of February, except to the final consumer.

6) What do I do at the end of the season?

» All unused tags must be returned to the VMRC as of February 15th of the following year and any unused tags not returned must be accounted for by submitting a notarized affidavit or paying a fee.

Directions for Tagging Tautog

1. Every tautog harvested must be tagged with a VMRC issued operculum tag from the current calendar year. The year and state on each tag must match when and where the tautog is landed. (Youtube Video Link)

2. Place the tag in the jaws of the applicator so that the side with the plus signs and the dimple the tip inserts into is towards the applicator jaw with the matching bowl. With your finger against the tag hinge, push into the applicator. Both sides should snap in until the tag dimple sits in the bowl and the tag point sits forward against the stop.

3. The tag may be placed on either side operculum, but must have the numbers facing out.

4. Hold the operculum open and place the loaded applicator on it so that the side with the tag number and the point faces outwards. Squeeze the applicator to apply. To disengage, push in and downwards then release. Check under the operculum; the point should be bent through the dimple.

5. Do not reuse any tag.

6. Any fish without a securely fastened tag will be considered untagged by Law Enforcement and you may be cited.

7. Tautog tags are valid only for the individual to whom they were issued. If you use tags that are not issued to you, you may be cited by Law Enforcement personnel.

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