Using Angler Diaries to Assess Catch and Harvest Trends for Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish in a Missouri Reservoir

The Missouri Department of Conservation suspected that blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) were being heavily exploited by anglers in the 22,501-ha Harry S. Truman Reservoir in west-central Missouri. A volunteer catfish angler creel was conducted during 2003_2005 to assess catch, harvest trends, and the proportional contribution of the two catfish species to the overall catfish fishery by reservoir catfish anglers. Following recruitment, a total of 308 volunteers were trained and then asked to fill out daily diary forms after each catfishing trip. Volunteers were asked to supply fish length and harvest information for their catch and the catch of all members of their fishing party as well as a trip rating. Anglers who actively participated in the program were entered into a random drawing at the end of each fishing season and received prizes ranging in value from US$15 to $100. A total of 138 anglers (45% of the volunteers) actively participated in the program by turning in at least one diary. Catch and harvest data were collected from 1055 diary forms and 2232 catfish angler trips. Anglers reported length and harvest information on 5920 catfish (including channel catfish) and reported catching nearly 10 times more blue catfish (3759) than flathead catfish (397). Anglers who targeted blue catfish caught 2.7 blue catfish per angler trip while anglers who targeted flathead catfish caught 0.3 flathead catfish per angler trip. Only 20% and 13% of blue catfish and flathead catfish, respectively, were caught with pole and line. Forty-one percent of volunteer anglers assigned a poor rating to their fishing trips. These results were used along with results from a concurrent exploitation study to recommended regulation changes to protect the blue catfish fishery at Truman Reservoir.

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