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Survey: Oregon anglers favor salmon and trout

A new survey of Oregon anglers shows that the state remains loaded with fishers who strongly favor salmon and trout over bass, who aren't scared away by catch-and-release fisheries, yet are stretched so thin they don't get to fish as much as they'd like.

Sound familiar?

Those are some of the highlights from the 2006 Oregon Licensed Angler Survey conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and released last week. The survey shows that anglers are relatively happy with their experiences, but they fight the clock and calendar for the opportunity to fish.

"When I read it, the biggest thing that struck me is the issue of time," ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrave says. "Time is our biggest competitor. But when people fish, I think they focus on the experience and that goes a long way."

The survey not only helps state fish managers get a clearer picture of their constituency, it also can guide members of the public who plan on submitting new regulations proposals next year. People can start submitting regulation proposals next month for 2009.

The survey was conducted by Responsive Management, a research firm that specializes in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, and overseen by ODFW statisticians.

The firm contacted 2,000 holders of resident fishing licenses and asked questions to gauge their participation, motivations for fishing and constraints. Participants also were asked their opinions about fishing, angling regulations and how they believe the ODFW is managing the state's fisheries.

Here is a sampling of some of the findings:

  • 77 percent of those surveyed reported fishing at least once in the past year. Of the 23 percent who did not fish, their reason was "not enough time."
  • 64 percent consider themselves "coldwater" anglers targeting salmon, steelhead and trout. 18 percent consider themselves "warmwater" anglers targeting bass and panfish, while the remaining 15 percent said they do both.
  • 41 percent of trout anglers say releasing some of the fish they catch makes angling more enjoyable, while 44 percent said catch-and-release fishing has no impact on them. 12 percent of anglers said it makes fishing less enjoyable.
  • 61 percent of trout anglers and 71 percent of warmwater anglers say they fish as much or more now than five years ago. 38 percent of trout anglers and 27 percent of warmwater anglers say they fish less now than before.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is about to embark on a five-year study delving into what influences survival of bighorn sheep in the lower Deschutes River canyon.

The study is a continuation of several past research projects investigating sheep survival on Steens Mountain, the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge and in the Leslie Gulch area of southeastern Oregon.

Beginning next month, ODFW crews will capture 35 bighorn sheep in the lower Deschutes Canyon and fit them with radio collars so their movements can be tracked. The collars can emit a special transmission when the sheep die. The dead sheep can then be located and their causes of death determined.

The information will help researchers track mortality trends, including whether cougars are factors in sheep survival rates.

An estimated 400 bighorn sheep live in the canyon.

The study will be done, in part, thanks to $18,475 in donations from the Medford-based Oregon Hunters Association, as well as from various OHA chapters.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.