Using Historical Creel Survey Data for Southern Lake Michigan to Identify Drivers of Fishery Change

Mitchell Zischke, Charles Roswell, Ben Dickinson, Ben Gramig

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Routine creel surveys of recreational anglers in southern Lake Michigan have been conducted by Illinois and Indiana state agencies since the mid-1980s. These surveys have produced a wealth of data that may yield insights into how the recreational fishery has changed through time and help identify biological, social and economic drivers of these changes. This project collated data from 55 creel surveys: 29 surveys by the Illinois Natural History Survey (1985-2013) and 26 surveys by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (1988-2013). These surveys focused on shore- and boat-based anglers during summer months (April-October), with additional surveys directed towards stream fishing, winter fishing and other specialized fishing (i.e. smelt, ice and snagging). Total fishing effort has varied through time but is currently less than 50% of peak effort during the last 30 years, and has decreased significantly for anglers targeting salmon and trout. Catch rates have also varied considerably through time. Yellow perch catch rates were highest in the early 1990s and mid-2000s, and lowest in the mid-1990s and 2010-2013. Salmonid catch rates remained relatively stable throughout the 1990s but have decreased by more than half since the early 2000s. Expenditure information was only reported from surveys conducted in Illinois, and while annual totals also vary considerably through time, current values are significantly lower than the historical mean. Annual variation and decadal trends may be attributed to a number of factors including the effect of extreme weather events on fish life history and angler participation, changes in management (e.g. stocking, regulations), ecosystem change (e.g. invasive dreissenid mussels), and the health of regional and global economies. This project highlights the utility of historical data in identifying previous challenges and future opportunities for management of recreational fisheries.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGreat Waters, Great Lands, Great Responsibilities: 76th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference, January 24-27, 2016, Grand Rapids Michigan
StatePublished - 2016


  • INHS


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