The ASA (American Sportfishing Association) just released a study that finds angler access to fishing spots is a major issue, possibly the biggest problem among fishermen today. The study, conducted under a multi-state conservation grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, included interviews with over 8,000 people and covered both fresh and saltwater anglers.
According to ASA VP Gordon, Robertson, “”The most important finding in this study is the predominant role that public lands and access to public lands plays in anglers being able to enjoy their sport. That is crucial information for our state and federal fish and wildlife and land managers and must be taken into account for budgeting and planning purposes.”
Well, shucks – any angler could have told ‘em that, because we fisherman are in a perpetual search for new and better fishing spots. We’re always looking for boat ramps with better access, piers with decent fishing, and places we can legally shoreline fish. I suppose the ASA needed to document this fact for the record (it seems you can’t get anything done these days without a study) but luckily, some other interesting stuff does pop up.
One tidbit worthy of note: 79 percent of anglers fishing from public land say access is excellent or good, 64 percent say access on public land has stayed the same over the past five years, 18 percent say public access has gotten better, and only 14 percent say it’s gotten worse. Meanwhile, only eight percent of those who fish from private areas say access from private land has gotten better while, and 21 percent say private land access has gotten worse. Who would have thought public access has improved, while private access had decreased? Evidently, lots of folks – and this meansthe government is doing something right, in this case, creating more access for anglers everywhere. Of course, one would think these results could change quite a bit if they were broken down geographically. Since most public fishing areas and boat ramps are regulated by the states and local governments, not the feds, access for the guys in Alaska will be very different than it will in Arkansas.
There’s a lot more interesting stuff in the study (fuel costs were noted as another major impediment to anglers; there are more boat anglers then shoreline anglers out there, etc.) so if you want to check it out, head for http://www.keepamericafishing.org/documents/2010AnglerAccessReport.pdf