Angler Use and Stocking Evaluation of a Coastal River Fishery in Southwest Alabama

Hybrid striped bass Morone saxatilis x M. chrysops, channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, and blue catfish I. furcatus were tagged and stocked to assess the potential for recreational fishery enhancement in a coastal Alabama river. Creel and mail surveys were completed to evaluate the existing fishery and success of fish stocking. After adjusting for angler tag reporting, tag loss, and mortality, catch rates were 2%, 11%, and 17% for blue catfish, channel catfish, and hybrid striped bass, respectively. No directed angler effort was recorded for any stocked species and catch rates did not increase over time. Estuarine species, such as speckled seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), white trout (Cynoscion arenarius), and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), comprised over 67% of targeted effort and 58% of the catch. Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and crappies (Pomoxis spp.) were the most targeted freshwater species. Angler surveys suggest that resident freshwater and estuarine fish were important and supplemental stocking of fish did not create the desired effect on this fishery.

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