Options for Estimating Striped Bass Catch and Harvest: Effectiveness of Creel Surveys
J. Warren Schlechte, Nathan G. Smith, and John B. Taylor
Abstract.—Striped bass Morone saxatilis provide important commercial and recreational fisheries in many Atlantic coast states, in addition to providing popular recreational reservoir fisheries in numerous inland states. Measurements of fishery-dependent data such as harvest, catch, and effort are essential to determining whether management actions are effective. Many states, including Texas, use creel-survey methods for measuring striped bass catch and effort statistics for recreational anglers. However, a systematic overview of the performance of the various types of creel surveys, or creel surveys in general, for measuring striped bass catch and effort has not been performed previously. In many states, both roving and access creel surveys are used, and effort may be allocated using unequal probabilities. In fisheries with low harvests of Morone spp., survey statistics for these fish typically have high relative standard errors (RSE), from 30% to 115%.As directed effort increases, the RSE typically decreases; in systems with high angling effort directed at striped bass, RSE is much lower (e.g., 18% in Lake Texoma, Texas–Oklahoma).We used these and other data from striped bass creel surveys throughout the United States to assess the reliability of estimates from various methods. We recommend making survey sampling effort coincide with the fishing effort. While it may be possible to improve the precision by increasing the amount of manpower devoted to the current creel survey, stratifying or using unequal spatial and temporal probabilities are techniques more likely to improve precision in a cost-effective manner. Once the data have been collected, we show how using model-based estimation, such as using Kalman filters or empirical Bayesian estimation, could also prove advantageous.