How gate survey questions help fisheries management

Did you know that fish and wildlife agencies have caged surveys programs to gather vital information about fish stocks in our state waterways? If you’ve never heard of a tag survey, let’s start by defining the tag survey. A gate survey is an estimate of the catches by recreational anglers that fishery managers can use to assess the health of wild fish populations in our state waterways.

Tag survey methods include interviews with anglers during different fishing seasons to compile a tag count or sample of data on the number of fish caught. These survey questions are simple and usually only require a brief summary of your fishing experience. This data can help fisheries managers determine whether sustainable fishing activities are taking place or whether the fishing activities are hindering the restoration of fish stocks on a particular waterway.

Sample questions about the Creel survey

• What types of fish did you catch?
• Which areas or fishing spots have you visited?
• How many of each fish species have you caught and kept?
• How many of each species of fish have you caught and released?
• How many hours have you been fishing?
• What fishing methods did you use?
• In which county do you live?

Once the answers to these types of questions are recorded, the tag survey data and tag counts can be analyzed. This data will help fisheries managers better understand fishing quality and fishing pressures on our state waterways. Gate surveys are a key component of fish management and fisheries protection as they help biologists decide whether to change fisheries rules to protect fish stocks.

Remember to always provide accurate information whenever you are asked to complete a tag survey. This gives fisheries managers quality data to help them make important decisions about fishing licenses, seasons and regulations. Also, now that you understand why cage surveys are important, you have one more reason to keep track of how many fish you are catching. It’s not just about bragging rights!

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide in southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has been featured 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.

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