Assessing Angler Use and Demographics at Three Small Impoundments using Trail Cameras

Trail cameras were deployed from 1 October 2015 through 30 September 2016 to measure angling effort at three lakes on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Sandhills Game Lands. Images were quantified via computer software and analyses were conducted to assess total angling effort as well as temporal (e.g., AM vs. PM, weekday vs. weekend, and seasonal effort), angling method (boat vs. bank), and demographic (male vs. female, youth vs. adult) calculations. Indian Camp Lake was the most used site by anglers throughout the study (1640.3 ± 32.2 angler-h) followed by Crappie Lake (675.0 ± 14.9 angler-h) and Kinney Cameron Lake (482.3±11.1 angler-h). Mean angler effort was highest in the spring at Kinney Cameron Lake and Crappie Lake but was equally high at Indian Camp Lake in the spring and summer. At all three lakes, anglers expended more effort on average in the afternoons and weekend days. Mean effort of bank anglers was higher than boat anglers at Indian Camp Lake but was similar between the groups at the other two lakes. Most effort on all three lakes was expended by adult and male anglers. Remote cameras yielded quality information about these systems, but camera theft, battery failure, image quality, and image interpretation were limiting factors in the overall utility of trail cameras in this study. The percentage of users that were unable to be categorized demographically varied by waterbody and ranged from 5.3% to 33.0% across age groups and from 8.1% to 36.1% for gender. Despite these limitations, the use of trail cameras in this study provided valuable information without the significant time and costs associated with traditional creel surveys.

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