An Analysis of Missouri Catfish Angler Demographics and Opinions for Fisheries Management Alternatives

Catfishes are among the most frequently sought freshwater fishes in the United States. Yet despite the popularity of catfish angling, few angler surveys have been conducted to describe the demographics, social characteristics, and opinions of catfish anglers to assist in improving fisheries management in Missouri. Thus, the Missouri Department of Conservation conducted a statewide survey of licensed anglers in Missouri in 2002. The survey asked questions specifically related to angler demographics, species preferences, angling behavior, and angler opinions on catfish management. Our results indicate that catfish anglers in Missouri are a diverse group and their preferences often differ by demography. In general, Missouri's catfish anglers are primarily male (79%), between the ages of 36 and 55 years old (52%), and live mostly (73%) in rural communities or small towns. Seventy-five percent of catfish anglers indicated that channel catfish was their favorite species to harvest. Over 80% of the anglers surveyed preferred to fish by rod and reel, and large lakes were preferred over other water body types by Missouri catfish anglers. The majority of catfish anglers preferred to catch and keep more catfish of a smaller size compared to fewer catfish of a larger size. Catfish angler opinions regarding use of gear restrictions, creel limits, or minimum length limits to increase chances of catching trophy-sized catfish varied by angler demography, and more support was seen in younger anglers with an urban background. Identifying and recognizing these differences among catfish anglers will assist managers in understanding the diversity among catfish anglers, and will assist them in making more informed management decisions that better serve this diverse angling group.

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