A survey method for determining angler preference for catches of various fish length and number combination

To help predict what effect potential length‐ or bag‐limit regulations might have on angler satisfaction, anglers at two Ohio lakes were asked to rate their preferences for hypothetical catches of crappies Pomoxis spp. consisting of various combinations of lengths and numbers. Anglers at Delaware and Paint Creek lakes rated catches by scoring them on a unitless semantic differentiation scale where 1 was the lowest and 5 was the highest satisfaction. Catch scenarios consisting of 5, 10, 15, or 20 fish of 127–279 mm total length in 25.4‐mm increments were described to the anglers by interviewers using verbal and visual communication. Analysis of weighted leasts‐quares estimates indicated lake, fish length, and number of fish all significantly affected variance in responses. Fish length was the most influential independent variable, Differences between lakes were most apparent for the 5‐fish scenarios. The predominant effect of fish length on angler preference justifies management actions on these two study lakes, such as length limits that would result in catches of fewer fish of larger average size.