This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating Tradeoffs Between Fishing Quality and Economic Performance in a Reservoir Black Bass Fishery with High Tournament Effort




Coash, Natalie

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences


Black bass Micropterus sp. populations are subject to high catch-and-release angling effort and higher post-release mortality partly attributable to the popularity of fishing tournaments. Increasing stakeholder conflicts between tournament and non-tournament angler groups dispute the appropriate use of a fishery, public resource crowding, and possible decreases in fishing quality. However, tournaments provide economic benefits through increased expenditures and support engagement of fisheries. Despite tournaments social, biological, and economic impacts, documentation of these events is largely unregulated, and their tradeoffs are not fully understood by management agencies. My research objectives were to identify the social, biological, and economic tradeoffs of the tournament and non-tournament black bass fishery at Neely Henry Reservoir in northeast Alabama. Specifically, my study collected socioeconomic data from tournament and non-tournament angler effort using a mixed-methods survey design with contingent behavior questions to understand covariates that influence angler behavior and priorities. This information was paired with an equilibrium age-structured simulation model to determine how varying amounts of angler effort affect black bass size structure and abundance, incorporating an economic sub-model to assess the impact of angler effort on the economy. This study reinforces the socioeconomic disparities between tournament and non-tournament angler effort and highlights the quantitative tradeoffs of angler effort interactions among stakeholder groups. Specifically, an increase in tournament effort corresponded to a decrease in non-tournament effort, irrespective of tournament participation. My survey revealed fishing quality to be a significant priority to anglers, surpassing their desire for additional tournament opportunities. My model indicated that the relationship between fishing quality and the collective economic performance produced by the fishery was relatively linear. Therefore, the fishing quality and economic tradeoffs of this study pertain to the management goals of the agency as well as tournament organizers. Understanding angler behaviors and priorities are vital for managers to accurately evaluate fishery demands and the biological and economic tradeoffs in a dynamic environment. Collectively, my study results provide the required information for agencies to develop proactive management strategies that maximize the benefits of the tournament fishing industry while supporting a high-quality fishery with desirable catch rates and size structure for all stakeholders.