Long-Term Changes in Recreational Catch Inequality in a Trout Stream


Catch inequality occurs when a small number of anglers catch a disproportionally large number of fish. Catch inequality is a common occurrence in recreational fisheries, but long-term changes in catch inequality are rarely measured. We evaluated catch inequality in archived long-term complete-trip creel census records from a trout stream in southeastern New York. These records document all fish caught for each angler over a 20-year period. Catch inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, increased significantly during the study period. Catch per unit effort and an inequality-standardized measure of catch per unit effort declined significantly throughout the study. We tested the hypothesis that between-angler inequality increases as catch per unit effort declines. There was no change in between-angler inequality but between-trip inequality increased substantially. Trip-to-trip variability, not between-angler variability, accounts for increased catch inequality when catch per unit effort declines. Catch inequality increases as catch per unit effort declines, but less successful anglers are not disproportionately affected.

North American Journal of Fisheries Management