Economic Impact of Striped Bass Angler Visitation at a Rural Alabama Reservoir

Lewis Smith Lake is an 8,853-ha recreational fishery within the Black Warrior River basin near Jasper, Alabama. A recent study found that striped bass Morone saxatilis do not significantly impact largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and Alabama bass M. henshalli through competition and predation, though many anglers still believe this to be true. Costs incurred by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries annual striped bass stocking efforts on Lewis Smith Lake are compared with the regional economic gain from the existence of this fishery. The objectives of this study were to: 1) estimate total fishing effort and trip expenditures by target species; 2) estimate distribution of striped bass expenditures and tax revenue into local communities; and 3) understand the socioeconomic characteristics of striped bass anglers. Effort was estimated at 233,756.31 hours for all species. Anglers primarily targeted largemouth and Alabama bass for 66% of the total effort, striped bass with 23%, and crappie Pomoxis spp. with 10%. Striped bass anglers had the highest expenditures on a per visit basis due to the use of guide services and higher income bracket. A cost-benefit analysis revealed that annual stocking costs are justified when compared with state and local tax revenue generated from striped bass angler expenditures.

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