The Virginia Stocked-Trout Program: An Evaluation of Anglers and Their Catch

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Virginia Tech


Despite the long history of stocking trout and the popularity of stocked-trout fishing in Virginia, no study has investigated the use of the program nor attempted to describe anglers actively seeking stocked trout. Agencies have stocked trout in Virginia since the 1920s and today, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) stocks the majority of the fish in the state, stocking over 1 million catchable-sized trout on over 180 waters. Given the expansive effort of VDGIF and the popularity of the program, VDGIF desired to understand how anglers utilize their program and who actively fishes for stocked trout. My objectives were 1) to assess catch, harvest, effort, and return-to-creel rates of stocked trout on various fishery and water body types, across seasons and number of days post-stocking in stocked waters in western Virginia, 2) to identify market segments of anglers seeking stocked trout based upon their demographic characteristics, motivations, and degree of specialization, 3) to compare satisfaction and management preferences of the market segments of anglers seeking stocked trout in Virginia and 4) to recommend stocking and management strategies that best meet the desires of stocked-trout anglers in Virginia and that produce managerially desired catch rates to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

I conducted on-site surveys on 17 stocked-trout waters across Virginia. Most anglers reported high levels of satisfaction with their fishing experience that day and with the program in the last 12 months. The majority of anglers caught something that day. Anglers had diverse fishing and management preferences.

Stocking density did not affect catch rate on lakes nor streams. Time following a stocking event did influence catch rate and effort; anglers caught fish the quickest on the day of stocking, but catch rate remained near 1 trout per angler-hr and did not significantly differ from the day after stocking to 30 days after stocking. Catch rate positively correlated with angler satisfaction, yet the majority of the anglers were highly satisfied, even if they did not catch any fish.

We identified four groups of anglers: casual anglers, consumptive-experienced anglers, avid anglers, and specialists. Social investment, experience, and fishery resource use varied among the four groups. The four groups also had differing motivations for fishing, fishing preferences, management preferences, and levels of satisfaction.

Multinomial logistic regressions showed that specialization, age, catch rate, importance an angler places on catching something, and waterbody type contributed to the best model for predicting angler satisfaction. Anglers on streams typically expressed greater satisfaction than anglers on lakes. Angler satisfaction negatively correlated with the importance an angler placed on catching something.



Stocked trout, angler specialization, Virginia