Fisheries managers are charged with understanding the interaction between sport fish populations and anglers to inform resource management decision making that supports and promotes healthy fisheries. Fundamental to this mission is easy access to long-term fisheries data, analytical tools and metrics that offer insight into the quality of a fishery, and an understanding of the factors that influence fish population dynamics. Equally important is the need to communicate this scientific knowledge and promote angling opportunities to the public. Project F-69-R has four overall goals: (1) conduct a variety of surveys and investigations that elucidate patterns of variation in sport fish populations and the mechanisms that drive those patterns, (2) evaluation methodologies used to collect fisheries data and inform sampling strategies; (3) communicate research findings and basic assessments of sport fish populations to the angling public, and (4) organize, manage, analyze and deliver sport fisheries data to researchers, sport fish managers, and the angling public. Basic and applied research studies, public outreach efforts, and data management activities all work in concert to create a better understanding of the restoration and conservation needs of sport fish populations in Illinois. Surveys and investigations completed in Segment 32 were executed under Study 1, Study 2, and Study 3. Summarized below, these studies were focused on three areas of sport fish restoration and management. First, a series of six experiments investigating the status and trends of Ancient Sport Fishes (Gars, and Bowfin) were conducted statewide, detailing age and growth methodology; spatial ecology and genetic relatedness; population vital rates; and bowfishing tournament harvest. Second, one experiment investigating the influence of on the heritability of lure avoidance were conducted, providing further evidence of the role angling vulnerability plays in fishing quality. Third, an evaluation of patterns in age and growth of walleye, sauger and their hybrids was initiated on several impoundments in east central Illinois. Evaluation of sampling methods initiated under Study 4 focuses on an evaluation of incorporating a fixed/random sample design into fisheries assessments in Illinois impoundments. Specifically, habitat and bathymetric assessments of study lakes were initiated, to be followed by data simulations utilizing sport fish data sets managed under Study 5. Sport fish data sets are the building blocks that support research studies and outreach activities within Project F-69-R, making the collaborative collection, organization, analysis, and dissemination of sport fish information a critical component of the overall goals of this project. In Study 5, project personnel collaborated with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to efficiently collect and manage data that reflects the status and trends in sport fish populations in Illinois and organizes that information in such a way that the needs of all data users can be more efficiently met. An online permit application system for fishing tournaments throughout Illinois 6 has been met with great success regarding its ease of use and generation of important data for researchers and managers. A new online data portal accessible by IDNR Division of Fisheries that integrates the Hatchery Information Management System (HIMS) and the assessment data system METRICS has been developed. Informed by repeated consultations with system users in the last segment, the new I Fish Data Portal is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of Segment 33. Achieving this significant landmark supports a transition toward placing more data management responsibility with the IDNR Division of Fisheries, while maintaining collaborative access to data for use in Project surveys and investigations. Outreach activities under Study 6 primarily consist of the maintenance of the website www.ifishillinois.org. The website is a heavily visited, popular resource for anglers seeking information about sport fishing opportunities in Illinois. The site provides basic information about access, as well as science-based assessments about the quality of sport fishing in Illinois waters. Through Study 6 we are able to communicate the results of sport fish research and analysis, delivering state-of-the-art information to researchers, managers, and the angling public. Social media will continue to be utilized to promote and share information about sport fishing opportunities throughout Illinois. The website, social media, and public outreach activities are essential to sharing public data and information about sport fish populations and management in Illinois. The importance and value of Project F-69-R lies in the ability to be responsive to emerging sport fish management issues through research studies utilizing long-term sport fish data sets, followed by compelling and salient communications of those findings to the angling public. The Executive Summary provides a brief overview of the accomplishments of each job within the project, followed by a more detailed reporting of the specific procedures, findings and recommendations for future activities under this project.
|INHS Technical Report 2019 (20)