Angler Behavior on Nebraska's Urban Waterbodies

Recreational angling, a billion–dollar industry, is the most influential factor structuring fish populations in inland systems. Given its importance and the reliance in North America on sportspersons to fund conservation activities (i.e., the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation), natural resource agencies invest substantial resources to manage angler-fish interactions to ensure long-term sustainability. Arguably, most of our current understanding and management efforts of recreational fisheries have been directed toward larger fisheries that are located in rural environments. These waterbodies are highly visible resources and often attract many anglers.  However, we know less about anglers in urban environments and how they interact with smaller waterbodies. It is important to understand angler behavior in metropolitan areas because the distribution of people on the landscape is becoming more urbanized. We anticipate that urban fisheries function differently than their rural counterparts.


Project goals are to understand 1) the participation patterns of anglers on multiple spatial and temporal scales; 2) how participation patterns of anglers influence fish populations and associated communities; 3) how management actions influence angler participation patterns and, in turn, fish communities; and 4) interactions and feedback mechanisms between and among angler groups and fish communities.

Current Status

This project currently has four study components:
    1. Omaha Angler Survey. Anglers were interviewed at Prairie Queen, Schwer, Halleck, and Standing Bear from April through October 2019. These interviews add to statewide angler survey datasets that are valuable for assessment of temporal changes in angler participation. In particular, these extended data sets allow for relational assessments of changes in angling participation with environmental conditions and management actions on large scales.

    2. Omaha Angler Pressure. Anglers will be counted at 24 waterbodies in the Omaha metropolitan area from February 2019 through January 2020. These counts will allow for extrapolated estimates of year-round fishing pressure on Omaha’s public waterbodies.

    3. Understanding Variation of Recreational Fishing Pressure. Recreational fishing is a billion-dollar industry, yet little is known about what drives spatial and temporal variation in recreational fishing pressure. Recreational fishing pressure is the fundamental variable that affects all estimates of creel surveys. We aim to 1) identify factors that explain variation in fishing pressure and 2) develop models that can be used to predict and forecast future changes in fishing pressure. We will leverage our current datasets on fishing pressure with additional datasets (e.g., climate, standardized fish sampling, socioeconomic) to predict monthly variation in fishing pressure. Models developed will enable managers to plan for and adjust to potential future changes in fishing pressure.

    4. Recreational Use of Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Valentine National Wildlife Refuge is an important social-ecological system that provides a variety of recreational opportunities for visitors.  However, frequency of activities and characteristics of participants are poorly understood.
We distributed windshield surveys from July 2017 to July 2018 to understand 1) the frequency of consumptive and non-consumptive recreational activities and 2) evaluate the sociodemographic characteristics and spatiotemporal distributions associated with these recreational activities. Most respondents participated in an intermediate-consumptive activity (fishing), followed by a consumptive recreational activity (hunting), and non-consumptive recreational activities (wildlife watching, photography, touring, hiking). Sociodemographic attributes of visitors differed significantly among consumptive and non-consumptive recreational activities. Heterogeneity among recreational activities and visitors participating in these activities should be assessed and considered when managing this refuge and other social-ecological systems.

Project Website
Conceptual infographic illustrating nonlinear angler behavior responses to water body size. Illustration: Jonathan Marohl
Conceptual infographic illustrating nonlinear angler behavior responses to water body size. Illustration: Jonathan Marohl
Interviewing angler. Photo: Tristan Powell
Interviewing angler. Photo: Tristan Powell
Principal Investigator(s)
-Kevin L. Pope
-Christopher J. Chizinski
-Mark A. Kaemingk

Graduate Student(s)
-Olivia DaRugna, M.S.
-Derek Kane, M.S.

Project Duration
January 2019 - December 2023

-Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Project Location
Statewide Nebraska