"Hide and Seek: Interplay of Fish and Anglers Influences Spatial Fisheries Management"

Monday, September 9, 2013: 3:20 PM
Conway (The Marriott Little Rock)
Bryan Matthias , Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Mike Allen , School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Robert Ahrens , School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
T. Douglas Beard Jr. , national Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA
Janice Kerns , Fisheries and Aquatic Science Program, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Sustainable management of fisheries resources requires an understanding of the spatial and temporal interplay between targeted fish populations and anglers. Predictions of the ideal free distribution suggest that anglers will be attracted toward areas with the highest fish abundance and will equalize catch rates over all areas. We conducted a field study comparing spatial patterns in recreational angler effort to the spatial distribution of fish in a 1,873 ha Florida lake. A total of 313 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) anglers were mapped over a period of one year, with over 90% fishing within 50 m from shore. Using radio telemetry, 81 largemouth bass were tracked during the same year. Approximately one-third of the fish were located offshore at any given time and thus would apparently be relatively invulnerable to capture by anglers. However, tag return data of telemetered fish showed similar catch rates in both onshore and offshore habitats, indicating all fish were equally vulnerable to angling. This suggests largemouth bass anglers were ideally distributed even though the angler distribution did not mimic the fish distribution.  Understanding interactions of both fish and angler behavior is critical when considering spatial management actions in recreational fisheries.