20 Years Later—A Comparison of Recreational Fishing Pressure and Catch Statistics at Cat Island, Mississippi

Roving-clerk creel surveys were conducted at Cat Island, Mississippi, during two three-year periods: 1977-1979 and 1997-1999. Angler interviews provided data of species caught with estimated weight and number, as well as duration of fishing activity. Periodic aerial counts of fishermen provided further estimates of total fishing activity. Fishing pressure increased significantly (P ? 0.05) during the 20-year study interval in numbers of fishermen and total hours fished. Greatest fishing activity occurred on weekends during both study periods with the greatest fishing pressure from March- November. Despite increased fishing pressure, total catch did not increase significantly (P ? 0.05) between study periods. Catch per unit effort (CPUE) exhibited a decline proportionate with the increase in fishing pressure. The three predominant species caught (ranked by number in descending order) has shifted from spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), Southern kingfish (Menticirrhus americanus), and sand sea- trout (Cynoscion arenarius) in the early study to Southern kingfish, sand seatrout, and spotted seatrout in the later study. The decline in spotted seatrout catch may be due to the recently-imposed minimum length limits in force during the second study.

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