An on-site interview and mail questionnaire survey of 409 anglers on the Shenandoah River, Virginia, was conducted to compare the characteristics, motivations, perceptions, and preferences of anglers fishing under 3 different minimum black bass length limit regulations (no size limit, a 279-330 mm slot length limit, and a 305 mm minimum limit). Considerable uniformity was found in the 3 regulation areas in harvest behavior, equipment expenditures, perceptions of fish quality (size), components of fishing enjoyment, motivations for fishing, and fisheries management and regulation preferences among anglers regardless of length limit regulations. Anglers in the 3 length regulation zones differed significantly only in their trip expenses, travel distances, catch and harvest rates, knowledge of existing regulations, and preferred length limits. Factors unrelated to preferred bass length limits, such as travel costs and distance, and prior success rates may have determined where our respondents elected to fish and influenced their perceptions and preferences. Partitioning Shenandoah River anglers into subgroups corresponding to their favored bass length regulation offered little management utility.
Fisheries Outstanding Technical Paper