Muskellunge Management: Fifty Years of Cooperation Among Anglers, Scientists, and Fisheries Biologists
A Management Tool for Biologists and an Online Fishing Resource for Anglers: An Introduction to the Ohio Muskie Angler Log [Abstract]
Curtis P. Wagner, Kevin S. Page, Edward Lewis, and R. Scott Hale
Voluntary angler catch reporting has been the principal method for monitoring Muskellunge Esox masquinongy fisheries in Ohio. From 1960 to 2007, anglers used mail-based catch cards to report 46,000 Muskellunge catches. This program has not only been vital for collecting robust long-term data on fishery performance and participation, it has also served as a focal point for building a strong partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and Muskellunge anglers. While instrumental in building quality Muskellunge fisheries in Ohio, the mail-based program was limited by the lack of catch detail provided, time-lag of catch reporting, and minimal access to the catch data by anglers. Consequently, a new online catch reporting system called the Muskie Angler Log (MAL) was launched in 2008. Designed in collaboration with anglers, the MAL expands on the tradition of providing important fishery data to biologists while serving as a fishing resource to anglers. In addition to reporting their catches, anglers using the MAL can now view, summarize, and download their personal catches, review reservoir-specific stocking and catch histories, and examine recent catch details voluntarily shared by other anglers. Biologists benefit from the MAL by being able to instantaneously track fishery performance and participation. The MAL also provides the opportunity to collect previously unavailable data on fishing effort and catch rates. The MAL shows promise in guiding management strategies, initiating research questions, and further strengthening the angler–agency partnership.