Surveys of Texas Bow Anglers, with Implications for Managing Alligator Gar

Increasing interest in conservation and management of alligator gar, a species considered at risk of imperilment by the American Fisheries Society, has made it important to ascertain angling effort and harvest for this species. Bowfishing is believed to constitute the majority of the recreational harvest of alligator gar, yet little is known about bow anglers and their fishing practices. To obtain baseline demographic and fishing information from bow anglers in Texas, we distributed surveys to 173 participants at three Trinity River bowfishing tournaments in 2011. We received 15 completed surveys for a response rate of 9%. In addition, we conducted an online survey of Texas Bowfishing Association members in 2012 and received 82 returned surveys, resulting in a 46% response rate. All survey responses were pooled for a total sample size of 97 bow anglers. Bow anglers were generally similar to statewide Texas anglers, but were primarily male (97%), and on average were younger than anglers statewide. Bow anglers fished an average of 46 days annually, predominately in Texas reservoirs. Fifty-seven percent of bow anglers reported harvesting an alligator gar in the previous 12 mo. Average number of alligator gar harvested per bow angler in the previous 12 mo was three (range 0 to 40). Managers should consider this small but important angling constituency when imposing new regulations to assess potential impacts on participation and fishing license sales. It is also important to monitor bow angler harvest rates for species of concern.

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