Assessing fishing pressure and angler harvest from Marben Public Fishing Area in middle Georgia
Roop, H. J., N. C. Poudyal, and C. Jennings.  2014.  Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, October 19-21, 2014, Destin, FL.

Abstract:
Creel surveys are valuable tools that fishery managers use to gather information about angler effort and harvest from water bodies of interest. A non-uniform roving creel survey was conducted at the Marben Public Fishing Area in Mansfield, Georgia during 2013 to obtain baseline estimates of fishery characteristics relating to fishing effort, catch, release, and fish harvest at the multiple-lake fishery. Fishing effort averaged 7,803 angler hours monthly (s.d. = 6,307) and ranged from 23,629 h in May to 1,638 h in December. Overall mean catch rate was 1.22 fish/h (s.d. = 1.97), harvest rate was 0.57 fish/h (s.d. = 1.09), and release rate was 1.22 fish/h (s.d. = 1.31). The most highly sought-after sport fish species also had the highest species-specific catch rates and were 2.11 fish/hr (s.d. =2.46) for sunfish Lepomis spp., 0.42 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.68) for Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, 0.29 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.52) for Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus, and 0.27 fish/hr (s.d. = 0.66) for Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus. Analysis of variance on the mean monthly estimates of fishing effort (F = 4.61; df = 3, 8; p = 0.03), catch (F = 5.42; df =3, 8; p = 0.02), and harvest (F = 7.58; df = 3, 8; p = 0.01) exhibited strong seasonal variability and were highest during the spring and lowest during the winter. Linear regression indicated a strong positive relationship between estimates of mean total monthly catch and mean harvest (r2=0.93). Sunfish dominated catch and harvest compositions year-round, whereas other species (e.g., Black Crappie) were seasonally present in the creel. Compared to results from other comparable fisheries, fishing pressure in Marben Public Fishing Area is moderate and catch rates of sunfish are good; however, catch and harvest rates for Black Crappie and Channel Catfish are relatively low. These results provide key fishery characteristics that should aid management in improving or maintaining the current quality of fishing at this PFA.