Friday, October 9, 2009

Steelheaders bare souls (and open their wallets)

Ohio spent a considerable bit of time from last October through May, interviewing 3,838 steelhead anglers.

What the Ohio Division of Wildlife found as its creel census crews did their work was went on in the hearts and minds of the state's troupe of steelhead anglers.

Among the findings:

* The average length of fish measured was 25 inches.

* Nearly 90 percent of the legal steelhead caught were released.

* Anglers came from 59 of Ohio's 88 counties; the most from Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula counties.

* Anglers from 19 other states and the province of Ontario fished for Ohio steelhead.

* Over 60 percent of the steelheaders surveyed used spinning gear while 34 percent used fly fishing tackle.

* Most anglers fished for one day, a small number fished for 2 to 3 days, and the longest steelhead trip was for 9 days.

* The typical steelhead trip lasted 5 hours though one angler fished for 11 hours.

* Most anglers spent $10 to $20 per trip while anglers spent an average of $300 annually. Annual expenditures ranged from a low of about $5 to as much as $18,000. Yikes, even my wife would cringe at that last figure.

What the survey does is provide another tool for the box in helping the Wildlife Division tailor its activities to best provide steelhead fishing opportunities, said Kevin Kayle, ODW fisheries biologist in charge of the state's steelhead program.

"Questions concerning how many fish the anglers have caught helps us determine if stocking rates are appropriate for a species that doesn't successfully reproduce to any appreciable level in Ohio," Kayle said.

The data further aids the division in determining whether current length or daily bag limits are appropriate, Kayle said also.

"Other questions on the survey can help determine the benefits of a fisheries has on the local economy and helps us also define angler demographics," kayle said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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