Socio-economic Characteristics of Anglers Participating in a Common Carp Fishing Tournament in Austin, Texas

The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been described as one of North America's most widely distributed and underutilized fishery resource. This resource has been largely ignored by the majority of anglers in the United States because of the reputation of carp as an undesirable species. In contrast, carp are highly esteemed as a sport fish and food fish in many other countries of the world. In recent years, the negative perception of carp in the United States has been challenged by a small but growing number of anglers who view carp as a sport fish. The Carp Anglers Group has held the annual Austin Team Championship (ATC) carp tournament at Town Lake in Austin, Texas, since 2002. The lake is a world-renowned trophy carp fishery. Anglers competing at the fifth ATC (24-25 March 2006) were surveyed to gauge the status of carp fishing in Texas. A maximum of 45 two-person teams were permitted to compete at the event. The survey was conducted on-site, and a total of 83 of the 90 participating anglers were interviewed giving an effective response rate of 92%. Most of the anglers (70%) were from out-of-state (18 states, Washington, D.C., and Romania) and 42% of respondents were fishing the tournament for the first time. The majority of anglers were male (94%) Caucasian (98%), and the average age was 44. Forty-nine percent of anglers had at least completed a four-year degree and 42% of respondents had average household incomes of more than US$100,000. Seventy-one percent of anglers said that carp fishing was their most important outdoor recreational activity. Respondents had been fishing for carp for an average of 19 years. The majority of anglers (81%) said that relaxation was the most important aspect of their fishing experience, and most respondents (46%) said that they predominantly fish with their friends. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were not at all interested in fishing as a means of obtaining food. Although the total of all prizes awarded during the tournament were valued at $7500, only 22% of respondents indicated that winning a prize or trophy was very/extremely important to them. However, 74% considered catching a trophy fish (average weight of 11.9 kg) to be very/extremely important. Fifty-three percent of anglers indicated that they were extremely satisfied with the tournament and an additional 31% reported that they were very satisfied. The total direct expenditure in Texas by the 83 anglers interviewed was $46,744 of which $32,478 was accounted for by out-of-state anglers. It is hoped that the results of this study will provide baseline data that can help to address the broader issue of whether carp fishing has the potential to become an important component of freshwater recreational fishing and what implications that might have for angler recruitment and fisheries management in Texas.

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