Three types of angler surveys are currently used by the Division of Wildlife to gather information about angler success, fishing preferences, practices, interests, opinions and attitudes. These include on-the-water creel surveys, online internet surveys, and mail surveys. The intent of collecting this type of information, often referred to as “Human Dimensions data”, is to help the Division of Wildlife better know anglers, provide better service, and ultimately improve fishing.
On-the-water creel surveys have been conducted by the Division of Wildlife for decades. These are referred to as creel surveys. Staff that collect creel survey data by interviewing anglers are called creel clerks. Most inland creel surveys are conducted on weekends during April through early August, when fishing pressure is greatest. During these surveys, creel clerks count the number of anglers fishing at pre-determined times to estimate the total hours anglers fish. In addition to angler counts, creel clerks also interview anglers by asking questions about how long they have fished, what they are fishing for, how many fish they have caught and kept or released, and how far they traveled from home to fish. Creel clerks may also ask anglers how they feel about existing regulations, changes in regulations that are being considered in the future, or a variety of other questions that help to make fisheries management decisions.
Mail surveys are another form of angler survey, although their use by the Division of Wildlife is relatively infrequent compared to creel surveys. A mail survey was conducted during 2004 to better understand angler preferences for particular bodies of water, frequency of fishing, loyalty to specific waters, and fish consumption practices. Anglers contacted by mail were a subset of those originally contacted on the water. The mail survey allowed the Division of Wildlife to ask more detailed questions than was possible during interviews conducted on the water. During 2009, another mail survey was used to learn more about the popularity of steelhead fishing in Ohio and to better characterize anglers that enjoy steelhead fishing. Similar to the 2004 mail survey, the 2009 mail survey was conducted in conjunction with a creel survey of steelhead anglers on tributaries of Lake Erie.
Internet-based surveys are the newest addition to angler surveys used by the Division of Wildlife. These online surveys were implemented during 2008 and 2009 to learn more about angler opinions and attitudes toward fisheries regulations and the impact of the current economy on their fishing. During both 2008 and 2009, some of the online survey questions were also asked of anglers during creel surveys. This approach allowed comparison of results from internet-based and on-the-water surveys, which is important since some anglers don’t have a computer or use the internet. Of the questions compared, results appeared similar, providing support for both approaches