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Division of Wildlife's First Online Angler Survey a Success!

The views of outdoor enthusiasts are important to the ODNR, Division of Wildlife when making management decisions, so when the Fish Management and Research Section of the Division wanted to know how anglers felt about fishing regulations in Ohio’s inland lakes and reservoirs, they developed an angler survey. However, this survey was not like traditional creel surveys where anglers are interviewed in person; rather, it was the Division’s first internet-based survey used to determine anglers’ opinions directly from our website.

During March 1-October 1 2008, over 3,600 Ohio anglers participated in the online survey by responding to 17 short questions about their fishing habits and opinions regarding fishing regulations in inland lakes and reservoirs. Anglers were also given the opportunity to provide comments on fishing regulations and the survey itself. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of the level of angler approval of length and daily bag limit regulations for specific types of fish in Ohio’s inland lakes and reservoirs. “This information is vital to fisheries management”, said John Denlinger, Inland Fisheries Research Unit Supervisor. “Responses to the survey allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of who our anglers are and how do they feel about fishing regulations.”

Anglers from across the state responded to the survey to provide details about how much they fish and for what types of fish. Sixty-six percent of respondents fished primarily at inland lakes and reservoirs and 86% fished mostly for either black bass (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass), catfish, crappie, saugeye and walleye, or whatever was biting.



Most respondents were experienced fisherman, with 76% indicating that they have been fishing for 21 or more years and 78% fished 21 or more days in 2007. Seventy-six percent of anglers were a member of fishing club and 80% had participated in at least one fishing tournament during 2007. Two thirds of anglers were between the ages of 30 and 59. “This information helps us to better understand what types of anglers responded to the survey and allowed us to compare angler opinions about length limit and daily bag limit regulations”, said Denlinger, “In particular, we were interested in how anglers targeting certain fish species felt about certain fishing regulations.”

The online survey asked anglers for their opinions on fishing regulations for black bass, crappie, and saugeye and walleye to gauge what they consider acceptable for these fish on inland lakes and reservoirs. Eighty-three percent of black bass anglers who mainly fished inland lakes and reservoirs approved of length limits on black bass and 73% believed that a minimum length limit between 12 and 15 inches on black bass was acceptable. In addition, nearly 90% of black bass anglers believed a daily bag limit of 5 fish or less for black bass was acceptable, suggesting that these anglers approve of Ohio black bass regulations. Currently, many of our inland lakes and reservoirs have a 12 inch or 15 inch length limit and a statewide, we have a 5-fish daily bag limit.



Crappie anglers also appeared to be satisfied with the 9-inch crappie length limit that exists on six reservoirs. Rich Carter, Fisheries Management Supervisor for District 1, has three of these waters within his district, “The online survey shows us that a 9-inch length limit on crappie is very popular among crappie anglers. More than 80% of crappie anglers said they favored, or strongly favored, this regulation on crappie for inland lakes and reservoirs.”

Crappie and sunfish anglers were less supportive of the concept of a combined daily bag limit for crappie and sunfish. Sixty percent of crappie anglers and only 43% of sunfish anglers said they favored the idea. However, 10% of crappie anglers and 14% percent of sunfish anglers said they were neutral, not favoring or opposing the regulation. Ohio currently does not have a statewide bag limit for crappie or sunfish, although site-specific limits apply for certain water areas.

Saugeye and walleye anglers who fish inland lakes and reservoirs also provided their views on length limits and daily bag limits. Two-thirds of these anglers approved of either a 14 or 15 inch length limit on saugeye and walleye in inland lakes and reservoirs and 62% believe a daily bag limit of either 5 or 6 fish is acceptable. Ohio currently has a 15 inch length limit for walleye on three inland reservoirs and a statewide daily bag limit of 6 fish for both saugeye and walleye. “These numbers are encouraging.” said Scott Hale, Inland Fisheries Program Administrator, “It shows us that anglers approve of the tools that we are using to manage fisheries, and that anglers would support these regulations on reservoirs where biological data suggest that regulations may improve fishing opportunities.”

The success of the 2008 online angler survey has encouraged the Division of Wildlife to use the internet to survey anglers on other management issues. “Online surveys have many advantages over traditional creel surveys as a method for understanding angler opinions,” said Denlinger, “ Online surveys allow us to ask a greater number of complex questions that would not be practical to ask an angler during the brief time we contact them on the water. They are also an extremely cost effective method for collecting opinions from a large number of anglers from across the state.” However, do not think that online surveys are going to replace on the water creel surveys anytime soon, “Traditional surveys are still our best option for collecting angling data such as the hours spent fishing, and catch and harvest rates of fish at specific lakes and reservoirs”, said Denlinger, “Also, by combining data from on the water creel surveys and online surveys, we can get a better picture of what’s going on within Ohio’s fisheries”. The online survey seems to be a hit with the Division of Wildlife and based on the comments given in the survey, anglers agree: “I think it’s great that you would collect [the] angler’s position on these topics… ODOW is doing a great job!...Thank you for your interest in the public's opinion!!!!!”

The DOW thanks all the anglers that participated in our first online survey! Your input was greatly appreciated.

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Kayak Conquistador
546 Posts
"Two-thirds of these anglers approved of either a 14 or 15 inch length limit on saugeye and walleye in inland lakes and reservoirs and 62% believe a daily bag limit of either 5 or 6 fish is acceptable."

Good to hear. I hope they SERIOUSLY consider implimenting a length limit statewide.

gray panther
701 Posts
I agree K Gone, looks like he has plenty of time LOL I don't understand the resistance to more rods -- the LIMIT remains the same. No matter how many rods you use you can still only take a limit.
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