Evaluation of Catch Card Reporting at Mississippi State Lakes

We evaluated voluntarily completed catch cards as an alternative to access point surveys at intensively managed state-owned fishing lakes in Mississippi. Catch cards, with signs encouraging participation and completion, were conspicuously available to anglers. Five percent of anglers voluntarily completed catch cards; response rate increased to 13% when agency personnel verbally requested participation in the catch card program from those anglers they encountered on-site. Anglers who voluntarily obtained and completed cards (respondents) were older, fished more often, and caught more fish on the day they completed the catch card than non-respondent anglers. Fish harvest reported on the catch cards did not differ from observed harvest. However, considering the response bias and low precision of estimates resulting from low response, voluntarily completed catch cards are not a viable substitute for creel surveys at Mississippi State lakes.

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