Bluegills Lepomis macrochirus are an important sport as well as food fish, but harvest regulations do not currently exist on most lakes throughout the United States. A self-administered survey was used to provide insight into angler attitude toward potential new bluegill harvest regulations (including catch-and-release-only fishing, no-fishing zones, daily bag limits, and minimum size limits) designed to increase the number of bluegills 150 mm or larger. Angler surveys were conducted at six lakes in Illinois, three of which contained bluegill populations that were categorized as stunted (few fish greater than 150 mm) and three as quality (fish greater than 180 mm were abundant). Anglers showed greatest support for catch-and-release fishing (during the spawning season), a 6-in minimum size limit, and use of a daily bag limit of 10. Anglers showed a less positive response to 7- and 8-in minimum size limits, a 25-fish daily bag limit, catch-and-release fishing for the entire year, and no-fishing zones (one-fourth of the lake) during the spawning season. Proposed regulations receiving negative responses were no-fishing zones (one-half of the lake) for either the entire year or just during spawning season. Angler willingness to support regulations was affected by bluegill size structure as there was greater acceptance on stunted than on quality lakes. Importance of catching fish, distance driven to a lake, and size of hometown all influenced support for regulations. Less-experienced anglers showed greater support for regulations than more highly experienced anglers. Anglers fishing for food and sport showed less support for regulations than anglers fishing for sport alone. No differences existed in the opinion of anglers based on the species of fish they were targeting. Information on support for various regulations and identification of different angler groups will aid management decisions for bluegill populations and help guide education efforts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law