Noontootla—A Sixteen-Year Creel And Use History Of A Southern Appalachian Trout Stream Under Changing Management Regulations

Sixteen years of creel and use data on Noontootla Creek in the southern Appalachian mountains of northern Georgia from 1954 to 1969 are presented. Changes in fishing pressure, catch rates, and use patterns under three types of management regulations-general regulations from 1954-1963 except for 1960 when the stream was designated "artificials only", and "artificials only catch-and-release" regulations from 1964-1969-are discussed. Noontootla is a wildlife management area stream fished under a permit check in-check out system allowing a nearly complete survey. A total of 17,445 anglers were surveyed. The survey revealed a decrease in daily fishing pressure under "artificials only" regulations and a substantial decrease under "catch-andrelease" regulations. The use data revealed a decrease in hours/ mean angler day with increasingly restrictive regulations: 4.62, 3.70, and 3.26 for general, "artificials only", and "catch-and-release", respectively. Anglers catching at least one fish fished on the average longer than unsuccessful anglers. Throughout the survey period successful anglers fished 1.7 hours longer per angler day than unsuccessful anglers. Success-catching at least one fish-averaged 71.I per cent for the survey period, slightly less (64..1 per cent) under "catchand- release" regulations than general regulations (72.2 per cent). However, successful anglers averaged 6.6 fish/trip under "catch-and-release" regulations and 5. I under general regulations. After initiation of "catch-and-release" regulations and drastic reduction in stocking intensity, natural reproduction and stocking carryover were sufficient to sustain a high catch rate. Associated with the decrease in hours/ angler day with increasingly restrictive regulations, the catch/hour for successful anglers increased from 1.0 to 1.7. No distinct use patterns were evident other than differences in angling pressure on the four days of the week the stream was open. The majority of angler use after "catch-and-release" regulations were initiated was from urban anglers. Stocking rate and creel-return of stocked fish, type of lure or bait used, and length frequencies of stream-reared fish brought to creel are discussed. Of the anglers responding to a questionnaire in 1969, 79.8 per cent preferred the "catch-and-release" concept as it was or with slight modifications.

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