How Creel Survey Questions Help Fisheries Management

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 25, 2017

Learn how creel survey data helps contribute to the conservation of our state fisheries. Find out about types of questions asked, how creel census data is used.

Did you know that fish and wildlife agencies have creel survey programs in place to help gather important information about fish stocks in our state waterways? If you haven't heard of a creel survey before, let's start out with a creel survey definition. A creel survey is an estimation of catches provided by recreational anglers that helps fisheries managers assess the health of game fish populations in our state waterways.

Creel survey methods include interviews with anglers during different fishing seasons in order to put together a creel census or sampling of data regarding the numbers of fish that are being caught. These survey questions are simple, and usually just require that you provide a brief summary of your fishing experience. Using this data, fisheries managers can determine if sustainable fishing activity is taking place, or if fishing activities have started to hinder the recovery of a particular waterway's fish stocks. 

Sample Creel Survey Questions
•    What types of fish species did you catch?
•    Which areas or fishing spots did you visit?
•    How many of each fish species did you catch and keep?
•    How many of each fish species did you catch and release?
•    How many hours did you fish?
•    Which angling methods did you use?
•    Which county do you live in?

Once the answers to these types of questions are recorded, the creel survey data and creel census numbers can be analyzed. This data helps fisheries managers gain a better understanding of the fishing quality and angling pressure on our state waterways. Creel surveys are a key component of fish management and fishing conservation efforts because they help biologists decide if fishing regulations need to be changed to protect fish stocks.

Remember to always provide accurate information if you are asked to participate in a creel survey. This way, fisheries managers will have quality data to help them make important decisions about fishing licenses, seasons, and regulations. Besides, now that you know why creel surveys are important, you have another reason to keep track of how many fish you catch. It's not just about bragging rights!
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.