Fishing Practices and Motivations of Hand Fishers in Texas

In 2011, the Texas state legislature legalized hand fishing as a harvest method for cat fish in Texas. Although large cat fish (>600 mm total length [TL]) are expected to be vulnerable to this fishing method, little is known about hand fishers or their harvest practices. To help make informed management decisions and better understand how hand fishers compare to other Texas' cat fish anglers, we surveyed hand fishers to collect information on their demographics and fishing activities. Survey respondents (n = 118) were primarily preexisting cat fish fishermen who already utilized other gear types to fish for cat fish; only 5.6% of respondents exclusively hand shed. Despite expressing a willingness to use other gear types, 40% of respondents (n = 47) considered hand fishing their most important fishing activity. Respondents indicated they hand shed a median of 15 days annually, primarily during the spawning period. Hand fishers reported catching about 8 cat fish per day, yet harvesting only two or three. The median size of flathead cat fish (Pylodictis olivaris) and blue cat fish (Ictalurus furcatus) caught was 762 and 508 mm TL, respectively. e maximum size flathead cat fish and blue cat fish hand fishers indicated they would keep was 1016 mm and 914 mm TL, respectively. Results suggested that even though hand-fishers target large fish, harvest may not be a primary objective. e legal addition in 2011 of hand fishing in Texas does not appear to have recruited many new people to cat-fishing, and hand fishers were likely represented in previous statewide angler surveys as well as a 2010 statewide cat fish survey. us, the overall impact of this style of fishing to Texas' fisheries resources will likely be minimal.

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