Creel Survey at Patagonia Lake
It’s not always about the fish when managing Arizona’s fisheries resources. Understanding the anglers that use those resources is an equally important part of the equation. There’s no better way to gain that understanding than by asking the anglers themselves. The Department recently completed a yearlong creel survey at Patagonia Lake to gain an understanding of the typical Patagonia angler. A total of 2,077 anglers were interviewed about their fishing experience from January through December 2016. The data shows that Patagonia Lake supported 41,402 angler hours and 7,648 angler days last year. Shore anglers comprised 41% of the angler population while boat anglers made up the rest at 59%. The average trip length across all anglers was 5.69 hours. When anglers were asked what species of fish they were fishing for, a majority of anglers responded “Any” followed by “Largemouth Bass” and then Channel Catfish”.
Bluegill Sunfish and Channel Catfish were the two most caught species respectively with Largemouth Bass being the third. The actual harvest of fish caught showed a slightly different pattern however. Channel Catfish were the most harvested species followed by Bluegill Sunfish and Black Crappie. Excessive harvest is always a concern voiced by Largemouth Bass anglers. Bass anglers worry that to many bass are removed having negative impacts on the overall health of the population. While over harvest is a concern, healthy bass populations do require that there be some level of harvest to guard against overpopulation and stunting. Excessive harvest does not appear to be a problem at Patagonia however. The results of this survey showed that less than 9% of the Largemouth Bass caught are actually harvested. Management needs that will be highlighted in the final report are for the construction of several new fishing piers to support the large number of shoreline anglers and a need to increase monitoring of the Channel Catfish population. Given the popularity of the species at Patagonia Lake, more specific data is needed to make further management decisions regarding the Channel Catfish fishery. For anglers interested in reading the full report it should be available in late spring 2017.