For the Cumberland Times-News
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s online Volunteer Angler Survey now has a new look, an added fish species and prizes.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources developed the new and improved survey to be more user-friendly, gather additional information and offer incentives to those who participate.
“Over the past 10 years the survey has been in place, volunteer anglers have provided information that is crucial in analyzing fish populations. For some species, this survey is the only source of information on released and discarded fish, we really can’t gather this information any other way,” said Linda Barker, DNR recreational fishing data coordinator.
The northern snakehead joins striped bass, summer flounder, yellow perch, bluefish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, muskellunge, blue crabs, catfish, crappie, bluegill, white perch and pickerel in the survey. Angler catch information helps fishery managers make harvest, stocking, conservation and restoration decisions.
“We are especially interested in using the survey to track the expanding range of the snakehead population and we want to know the proportion of anglers who like to eat them,” said Joe Love of the DNR Tidal Bass Program.
Anglers who participate in the surveys have the chance to win prizes such as $100 gift cards from Bass Pro Shops. DNR will randomly draw the winners at the end of the year. All participants who submitted a survey starting Jan. 1 will be eligible.
“We are hoping that the prizes will encourage all anglers, including those who get skunked on trips, to participate,” said Barker. “Information on trips with no caught fish is just as important as reports from days when the fish are plentiful.”