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Catch-and-Release Rates of Sport Fishes in Northern Wisconsin from an Angler Diary Survey

Gaeta, Jereme W., Beardmore, Ben, Latzka, Alexander W., Provencher, Bill, Carpenter, Stephen R.
North American journal of fisheries management 2013 v.33 no.3 pp. 606-614
Esox lucius, Esox masquinongy, Micropterus dolomieu, Micropterus salmoides, Sander vitreus, bass, freshwater fisheries, game fish, lakes, managers, researchers, sport fishing, surveys, Wisconsin
Recreational freshwater fisheries are key components of local economies in many regions. The quality of these fisheries can be affected not only by harvest but also by catch-and-release practices. Documenting catch and release among sport fish taxa is, therefore, important to fisheries researchers studying sport fishes and managers regulating these fisheries. We used an angler diary survey to assess taxon-specific effort, catch, harvest, release, and reason for release during the 2011 open-water season. Our study included information on 5,007 fishing trips taken by 652 anglers. These anglers visited 279 lakes spanning 11,761.5 km ² of northern Wisconsin. Muskellunge Esox masquinongy , black bass (i.e., Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu and Largemouth Bass M. salmoides), Northern Pike E. lucius , Walleye Sander vitreus , and panfish were released at rates of 99, 97, 86, 67, and 67%, respectively, when targeted by anglers. This study is the first to document black bass catch-and-release rates in the region and corroborates previous findings of Muskellunge and Walleye catch-and-release rates based on creel surveys. Voluntary catch and release was the most common reason for release. Our findings suggest that regulations may be much more generous than the harvest rates practiced by anglers and that catch-and-release angling practices may be an important factor affecting these sport fish populations. Received July 18, 2012; accepted March 12, 2013