Angler Catches from New River, Virginia and West Virginia, in Relation to Minimum Length Limit Regulations

A 1-year creel survey of New River, Virginia and West Virginia, was conducted to assess the effects of a 305-mm minimum length limit on the angler harvest of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) and associated fishes from the Virginia portion of the New River. Anglers in Virginia harvested 0.06 smallmouth bass per hour averaging 322 mm total length (TL) and released 1.27 smallmouth bass per hour. West Virginia anglers harvested 0.40 smallmouth bass per hour averaging 242 mm TL and released 0.65 smallmouth bass per hour. Total catches per hour (1.33 in Virginia and 1.05 in West Virginia) were not significantly different. Anglers in Virginia fished significantly longer and released significantly more fish other than smallmouth bass than did anglers in West Virginia. The minimum length limit regulation has shifted size at harvest and the rates of harvest and release of smallmouth bass. Other game species were also released in greater numbers in the regulated section indicating that the attitude of releasing sublegal smallmouth bass carried over to other species.

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