Bass are the best when it comes to generating income through recreational fishing at Lake Guntersville, according to preliminary findings from a study by Auburn University.
For the first 10 months of 2012, more than 200,000 angler fishing days translated into $13.4 million in directed related expenditures. Of this effort, 66 percent of anglers targeted bass, with crappie accounting for 19 percent, sunfish 6, catfish 3, and “anything” or other fish 5.
“We estimated the economic impact of recreational fishing expenditures and tax revenues generated for the four major recreational fisheries at Lake Guntersville to the local towns, counties, and state,” explained graduate student Chris McKee.
“Bass dominated during all seasons,” he said, adding that data was collected through monthly creel surveys and aerial counts of boat anglers.
More than 500 of the nearly 700 anglers interviewed said that they were fishing for bass, 125 for crappie, 29 for sunfish, and 10 for catfish.
Of the 1.29 million hours spent fishing at the 69,000-acre reservoir in northern Alabama, 965,000 of them were devoted to bass.
Tournaments of all kinds accounted for 21 percent of those hours, with 56 percent of competitive anglers coming from Alabama and 32 percent from border states.
Thirty-four percent of bass trips were related to tournaments, with more than half of those for pre-fishing.
Bass anglers traveled an average of 13.5 miles one way to fish Guntersville, but 39 percent of them came from out of state, and 40 percent of those stayed overnight. Average extended stay was 4.4 days.
Overall, 42 percent of Guntersville anglers were residents of the three counties surrounding the reservoir, while 27 percent were nonlocal Alabama residents, 15 percent were from border states, and 16 percent were from nonborder states.
When finalized, these results “should demonstrate that the Lake Guntersville fishery contributes significant funds to local and state businesses and to government tax bases,” McKee said. “In turn, this could help secure funding for projects that will maintain and improve the recreational fishery at Lake Guntersville, as well as the supporting infrastructure.”
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)