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The Department of Natural Resources mailed out surveys earlier this month to more than 800 randomly picked fishing license holders who had once been trout anglers but who had not bought a trout stamp that would allow them to fish for trout in Wisconsin's inland waters since 2008.
"What we're trying to find out is what are the reasons that people are no longer fishing and is there anything we can do about that," says Marty Engel, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist stationed in Baldwin.
"Obviously, angler retention is as important to us as any business. We want to know what the reasons are, and if there is anything we can do to address things like access or regulations, or anything else under our control."
The survey is part of Wisconsin's ongoing review of inland trout fishing. Participants at public meetings last spring got to tell DNR fish biologists what they like about trout fishing now and what they think could be improved. Meeting participants also filled out a survey to give more specific feedback on all aspects of trout fishing and management in Wisconsin, and nearly 2,000 completed the same survey online.
A second mail survey will go out later this fall to randomly selected trout anglers. DNR researchers are using results from the previous surveys available at the public meetings and online to help fine-tune the questions for the mail survey, which also will ask about angler effort, catch and harvest.
Jordan Petchenik, a DNR social researcher, is working with trout researchers, on the survey that seeks to find out why once avid anglers quit.
Petchenik worked with DNR's licensing staff to run a query of the automated licensing system to see how many people bought a trout stamp for every year 2004-2008 but stopped buying the stamp after 2008. That total was 2, 268. Those people received a letter to verify their address was still current. The survey design called for 800 of them to get a survey in the mail to fill out and return. The surveys were mailed out the second week of October.
"We know that the people who dropped out for the last three years had been dedicated trout anglers at one time because they had purchased trout stamps for five consecutive years," Petchenik says.
Results from the mail survey of anglers who have fallen away from the sport in Wisconsin's won't be available until the end of the year, he says.
Engel hopes the results will offer DNR important insights into trout fishing and trout management, and how DNR can work to improve both. "It's been more than 20 years since we surveyed trout anglers, and I don't think we've ever surveyed people who hung it up to find out why they did or what we can do to get them back."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: about survey methodology contact Jordan Petchenik (608) 266-8523; about how survey results will be used contact Scot Stewart (608) 273-5967 or Marty Engel (715) 684-2914 ext 110
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