Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institut für Agrar- und Gartenbauwissenschaften

Effectively managing angler satisfaction in recreational fisheries requires understanding the fish species and the anglers

Whenever satisfied anglers are an important objective of recreational fisheries management, understanding how trip outcomes influence satisfaction reports is critical. While anglers, generally, prefer high catch rates and large fish, the relative importance of these catch outcomes for catch satisfaction has not been established across species and angler types. We examined relationships between angler specialization, trip outcomes (both catch and non-catch characteristics such as crowding), and catch satisfaction across six freshwater fish species in northern Germany. As expected, catch satisfaction was primarily determined by catch rate and fish size in all fish species; however, the relative importance of these two outcomes varied considerably across species and among angler types that differed by commitment to fishing. We found a diminishing marginal return of satisfaction for increasing catch rate for all but small-bodied cyprinid species, while increasing size of largest retained fish monotonically increased catch satisfaction in all species we examined. Non-catch outcomes (e.g., the number of other anglers seen while fishing) also had a significant negative influence on catch satisfaction, suggesting that non-catch factors are important in establishing expectations and for contextual evaluation of catch outcomes. We also determined that diversified trips made anglers more satisfied and that all else being equal, specialized anglers increased catch satisfaction from travel and fishing time. The results highlight the importance for managers to consider their particular mix of anglers as well as the fish species present when setting regulations aimed at increasing angler satisfaction.