Use of Trail Cameras to Assess Angler Use of Two Remote Trout Streams in North Carolina

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) manages approximately 6400 km of self-sustaining, wild trout streams, and recent trout angler opinion data indicated that most trout anglers fish these waters. Given the popularity of wild trout angling, increasing understanding of angler use of these resources would benefit NCWRC. However, gathering this information can be labor intensive and costly, and as a result, very little is known about angler usage of wild trout resources in North Carolina. Recent advances in digital camera and motion detection technology provide a potential low-cost alternative to typical manned-creel surveys. In an effort to obtain angler use information for wild trout resources in North Carolina, trail cameras were stationed along two wild trout streams with only one or two access points. From 1 June 2013 through 31 May 2014, 225 and 129 angler trips occurred on the two streams, resulting in fishing effort estimates of 593.4 (SE = 15.3) and 491.5 (SE = 21.3) h. Mean angler group size was 1.4 (SE = 0.04) and 1.3 (SE = 0.05), and mean trip lengths were 2.6 h (SE = 0.2) and 3.8 h (SE = 0.2) for the two streams. Angler usage was highest during the summer months with most daily activity occurring on weekends and holidays. Most anglers (> 90%) on both streams appeared to be adult, Caucasian, males that used fly-fishing gear; in contrast, 36.4% of youth anglers used spin-fishing gear. Trail cameras provided a low-cost method of obtaining angler use and demographic information from these wild trout resources. Data obtained will aid NCWRC staff in making future management decisions regarding wild trout resources.

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