Fisherman Larry Mattson caught a lake trout in Michigan’s Traverse Bay that had a computer inside it. It’s not the kind he could use to surf the internet, however, since it’s only the size of a finger. It was put inside the fish by game wardens, and there was also a phone number on a tag on the back of the fish. When Mattson called it, he reached the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

They planted tiny computers in 124 fish in November, 2001, and the one Mattson found is only the 8th one that’s been caught. Bill Mattes was able to recover 19 months of data from the computer, such as a depth and water temperature reading taken every 15 seconds. This will tell researchers what water temperatures lake trout like, and where they spend their time. “This is huge for us,” Mattes says. “The (computer) tag is worth about $400. But it’s the data inside that’s the most valuable.”

Mattson’s fish swam more than 150 miles from where it was tagged and sometimes dove to depths of 400 feet. “We know they move around in the lake. But this is unusual. We really don’t know why it came this far,” Mattes says. Mattson was supposed to return the fish to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but he ate it instead. He still got a $100 reward for returning the computer.

So the next time you catch a lake trout, open it up carefully. There are still 116 computers out there.

We all need to keep informed about what will happen in our future.

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