Dynamics and Economic Contribution of Large Bass Tournaments at Lake Fork Reservoir, Texas

An economic valuation of the recreational sport fishery of Lake Fork in northeast Texas was completed in 2014 and 2015, finding that angler direct expenditures totaled US$18.8 million annually on fishing trips to the reservoir. Although some largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) tournament anglers were included in that study, it did not assess economic impacts of six large (>200 participants) tournaments during the study period. Since 2006, largemouth bass tournament effort at Lake Fork has generally increased to comprise half of all fishing activity in the reservoir and is currently believed to account for most of the Lake Fork sport fishery’s economic value. This is despite supporting a renowned trophy fishery for largemouth bass managed by a highly restrictive slot-length limit that makes it difficult to conduct tournaments using traditional formats. To estimate economic contribution of large tournaments, we surveyed anglers from six of the largest events at Lake Fork between July 2015 and June 2016. A total of 7923 anglers participated in these tournaments, resulting in $4.7 million in direct expenditures and an overall economic value of $5.7 million. Understanding the economics of tournaments is important to fisheries managers, businesses, and local economic development groups engaging in decisions that may impact tournament angling. This study found that substantial tournament activity and associated economic benefit still occurs at Lake Fork despite the restrictive slot-length limit.

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