Previous evaluations of creel surveys have found non-reporting, recall bias, species misidentification and high drop our rates to inhibit overall effectiveness. Participation in this volunteer creel project was limited to a small group of dedicated professional guides that met annually with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff for training and instruction to ensure high quality data collection and reliable reporting. Data collection began in 2012 and continued through the 2016 open water Wisconsin fishing season. The volunteer guides initiated collection of data for several variables that were not originally considered by agency personnel.
While there are several challenges to initiating and maintaining angler-agency partnerships, they can be an efficient means to collect relevant muskellunge population data in uniquely challenging environments such as river, particularly in comparison to tradition fisheries survey methods used primarily on lakes such as trap netting or electrofishing. Cooperative partnerships between agencies and anglers have the added benefit of generating mutual trust and facilitating exchange of information related to user experience.