Angler Opinions Regarding Catfish Management in Tennessee

Emphasis on catfish management has increased in Tennessee, and in 2003 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency adopted new regulations protecting trophy-sized catfish by restricting recreational harvest of catfish >864 mm to one fish per day and eliminating all commercial harvest of catfish >864 mm. A statewide survey on licensed catfish anglers was conducted in fall 2000, 2005 and 2006 to determine if angler responses changed following implementation of these regulations. Before the regulation change, catfish anglers generally supported protecting trophy-sized catfish but angler responses for managing catfish as a sportfish were equally divided between support and opposition. Catfish anglers surveyed in 2005 and 2006 had not diminished their support for the regulation, but support for managing catfish as a sportfish had increased by 75% over the previous survey. Tennessee catfish anglers were composed of harvest-oriented (73.5%) and trophy (12.5%) anglers and both groups supported management scenarios that restricted harvest of trophy-sized catfish, albeit at two different levels. Trophy anglers were 66% more likely to support the trophy-size regulation and 95% more likely to support managing catfish as a sportfish. Older (>45 years old) respondents were more likely to oppose management, and respondents having a higher level of education were more likely to support management. These results suggested that catfish anglers in general supported the trophy-size regulation but at disparate levels within harvest, age, and education groups.

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