Utilizing Anglers to Improve Striped Bass Management
Daniel M. Wilson
Abstract.—Anglers have been an integral part of striped bass Morone saxatilis management at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. Since the mid-1990s, volunteer anglers assisted with agency data collection, maintained diaries, tagged fish for angler exploitation studies, and collected striped bass for growth analysis. Data from existing angler programs such as tournaments and trophy fish awards were also incorporated to track the striped bass population. Anglers were utilized to specifically fill data voids. Established gill-net and creel surveys were not sufficient to track trends in the striped bass population. However, by integrating anglers, substantial changes were documented in the Smith Mountain Lake striped bass population that were not detectable with established assessment tools and helped to make management decisions more compatible with angler interests. Incorporating volunteers into striped bass management required substantial interaction but filled data gaps and improved public relations. In addition, many anglers developed realistic expectations of the fishery and became more invested in responsible management of the striped bass population.