Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 46:4–10; 2014
We compared the habitat use of large (>200 mm) bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus) to the locations of anglers targeting bluegills in a South Dakota glacial lake to determine whether habitat use was similar between anglers and bluegills. Eighty- five bluegills (mean total length = 213 mm) collected in September 2002 and May 2003 were affixed with external radio transmitters and subsequently relocated three to four times per week from October 2002 through October 2003. Bluegill angler locations were recorded during bluegill tracking sessions and roving creel surveys. Habitat variables (water depth, vegetation density and height, and substrate type) were measured lake-wide during August and October 2003. Water depth and vegetation in summer habitat did not differ between anglers and bluegills. Bluegill used areas that were shallower and more heavily vegetated than winter anglers. Anglers used softer substrates than bluegills during both seasons, especially summer. Based on these results, it is possible that summer anglers have the potential to impact bluegill populations more than winter anglers in lakes where sufficient vegetation exists to provide winter refuge from exploitation.