Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Kevin L Pope

Date of this Version

Summer 2017


Harmon, B.S. 2017. Recreational angler site choice and behavior within midwestern reservoirs. Thesis: University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Anglers are the dominant predator in most inland fisheries. Although anglers make decisions across multiple scales, most research targets larger spatial and temporal scales of angler behavior, and thus little is known regarding angler behavior within a fishing trip. Outcomes of within-trip behavior affect larger spatial and temporal scales and are thus important to the management of recreational fisheries. Bank angler site choice was recorded at four reservoirs in the Salt Valley system across the open-water season of 2016. Previous research indicated that angler distribution did not match the distribution of fish, so another approach was taken. Counts of anglers were aggregated into 50-m sections of shoreline and compared to physical habitat features using a competing-models approach. Waterbody-choice, travel distance from parking, and non-catch-related factors constrained anglers’ catch-related habitat choices. An online survey of 2015 Nebraska fishing license purchasers was compared to realized site choice. Factors from stated preferences (online survey) and realized preferences (angler locations) were not consistent. Bank angler behavior was recorded for entire, individual, fishing trips, and behavior was compared to angler-perceived fishing objectives. Anglers were surveyed for a stated primary objective at the beginning and end of their trip as either "to catch the largest fish possible", "to catch the most fish possible", or "Neither, just enjoying the experience." Anglers' stated trip objective and specialization had little influence on within-trip fishing behavior. However, anglers that failed to capture a fish were more likely to shift to a stated primary non-catch-related objective during their fishing trip. Within-waterbody angler site choice and behavior reflect non-catch-motivations that may have significant bottom-up effects on across-trip angler behavior.