What’s the Catch?
In 2013, more than 350,000 licensed anglers spent in excess of 6 million days fishing Arizona waters. This angler use is tied to over a billion dollars in economic impact in our state. Due to our location in the arid Southwest, water is at a premium, and recreational angling is in constant competition with other uses for these limited water resources. Angler catch, take, and how much time you spend fishing are basic information managers use to ensure continued opportunity for recreational fishing.
In order to obtain this information the Arizona Game and Fish Department performs on-site creel surveys. Interviews typically take only a few minutes and may be 10 to 20 questions long. Data from these surveys can provide a better picture of how many fish are caught per hour of fishing, what target species are, and how satisfied fishermen are with their experience. An example of how survey data was used to inform management decisions was 2013 surveys found that 61 percent practiced catch-and-release versus keeping what they caught this allows us to stock more fish that are desirable for this type of angling.
Although creel surveys are very expensive, as they require a worker to be present at a lake or stream at random times of day or night, and on any day of the week or on holidays; mail-out or online surveys require many hours of preparation to make sure the questions asked will elicit the desired data, and may not return as high a response from anglers. Effectively surveying anglers and their catches are among the most important professional tools available today to managers of recreational fisheries, and is something that Arizona Game and Fish is committed to continuing.
The department currently has many creel surveys going at waters around the state. These waters include the lakes around Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Lake Havasu, as well as various Mogollon Rim lakes. So, if you are approached by someone wearing a quail logo on his or her shirt and asking questions about what you’ve caught and how long you’ve been fishing, be honest. The regulations, stocking numbers and facilities around your favorite fishing spot may be at stake.