Angler Surveys to Focus on Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is launching a large-scale angler survey effort that will explore fishing use and anglers’ experiences on 130 miles of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers.

The survey is designed to measure catch, harvest, economic expenditures and angler opinions associated with fishing on sections of the two rivers for the period April through October. The Susquehanna River survey reach will extend from Sunbury to the Holtwood Dam near the Maryland border. The survey reach on the Juniata River will extend from Port Royal to the mouth near Duncannon.

For the river surveys, the PFBC is partnering with the Penn State Statistical Consulting Center and the Penn State Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit as well as a professional economist from Colorado State University. Ten creel clerks, who will interview anglers on each survey day at access areas using a statistically structured sampling design, will collect the data for the survey. In visiting access areas, clerks will ask about their fish catch and the amount of time spent fishing. Creel clerks will also ask how much anglers spend on travel (gasoline), fishing tackle, and other gear such as bait. Finally, anglers will be asked about their satisfaction associated with fishing and their feelings about public and private access on these rivers. In addition to these on-the-water interviews, airplane flyovers will be conducted three times each week to count anglers and boaters who use the river.

“This is a large scale effort to get important information on what is widely considered to be one of the best riverine fisheries in the nation. The results of the survey will provide valuable information that can then be used in setting the management directions for species such as smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, carp, rock bass, and American shad,” said PFBC Executive Director Doug Austen.

A second study that will be done in conjunction with the creel survey is a smallmouth bass angling mortality study. This study will be designed to estimate what proportion of the smallmouth bass population dies as the result of fishing. The study will involve tagging a large number of fish. The tags will resemble an orange strand of “plastic spaghetti” located on the fish’s stomach area. The tag strand contains a tag number, and a toll-free number to report the tags. Some tags will contain reward amounts that are printed on the tag. Tag information must be reported by Dec. 31 in order for rewards to be given. It is not necessary to harvest fish to report the tags. The tags simply need to be removed. Anglers can release tagged bass unharmed if they so desire. This study will begin later this spring and the agency will provide additional information at that time.

This is the second large-scale river angler survey the PFBC has undertaken in the past decade. In 2002, Pennsylvania partnered with the neighboring states of New Jersey, New York, and Delaware to measure catch and harvest of all fish species on the Delaware River and Delaware Estuary. That survey revealed significant recreational activity on that river. The Delaware River survey documented that approximately 120,000 angling trips occurred on the tidal and non-tidal portions of that river combined from March 17 through October.

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