Hydrologic Variables Predict Paddlefish Harvest in a Recreational Kansas Fishery

Tuesday, September 10, 2013: 8:00 AM
Marriott Ballroom B (The Marriott Little Rock)
Ben Neely , Fisheries Division, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Independence, KS
Brenda M. Pracheil , Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Sean Lynott , Fisheries Division, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Chanute, KS
Angler retention is an important component of fisheries management, and providing anglers with satisfying angling experiences increases the likelihood that they will continue to purchase fishing licenses.  The Neosho River near Chetopa, Kansas supports a tailwater Paddlefish Polyodon spathula snag fishery that is open to sport harvest from 15 March to 15 May of each year.  Paddlefish inhabiting this portion of the river are presumed immigrants from Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Oklahoma that are making upstream spawning migrations.  Angler success in a Paddlefish snag fishery is dependent on fish density, a factor that is likely determined by river hydrology.  Therefore, we sought to understand links between river flow regime and angler harvest.  We used multiple linear regression to determine whether hydrology could predict angler harvest based on 1992-2005 data.  Three variables describing discharge magnitude, duration, and variability combined to explain 55% of variation in Paddlefish harvest during the study period.   These results suggest that hydrology can be a key driver of Paddlefish harvest in a tailwater fishery: information that fishery managers can provide anglers to increase harvest success and to estimate Paddlefish harvest in years when creel surveys are not feasible.  Our model demonstrates how abiotic factors, fish behavior, and angler harvest can all interact in further management of fisheries that are reliant on fluvial-specialist species.