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    Red Drum Recreational Fishing Survey in Tampa Bay
    FWRI surveys recreational anglers from the Tampa Bay area to assess the red drum
    recreational fishery and quantify the success of hatchery-reared red drum stocking efforts.

    Project Tampa Bay is a large-scale experiment designed to quantify the success of
    fisheries stock-enhancement efforts in open estuarine systems. Since 2000, hatchery-
    reared red drum fingerlings have been stocked in the Tampa Bay estuary. Ongoing FWRI
    research monitors the success of those stocking efforts. One benchmark for gauging the
    success of stock enhancement is the contribution of hatchery-reared red drum to the
    recreational fishery.

    To monitor the recreational catch of hatchery-reared fish released in Tampa Bay, FWRI
    researchers conduct recreational angler surveys at fishing access points around the
    estuary. During the surveys, recreational anglers interviewed at the end of their fishing trips
    are asked whether they were targeting red drum or some other species and how many fish
    they caught and released. When harvested red drum are available for inspection, size and
    weight are recorded, and samples are collected to determine the age and genetic makeup
    of the fish. Genetic markers are used to determine if the fish originate from wild stock or are
    hatchery-reared recaptures.

    Since the angler survey began, more than 50,500 anglers have been interviewed, and
    much has been learned about the red drum recreational fishery. Of all anglers surveyed,
    approximately 14% directly targeted red drum during their fishing trips. Anglers fishing
    specifically for red drum caught 70% of all fish released and 74% of all fish harvested. The
    majority of fish that are released by recreational anglers are below the minimum legal size
    limit. A smaller proportion are above the maximum legal size limit.

    Hatchery managers charged with growing and stocking important species and enhancing
    fisheries will benefit from the results of this research. Monitoring the survival of hatchery-
    reared red drum that recruit to the recreational fishery allows hatchery managers to
    optimize their stock enhancement efforts. Small numbers of hatchery-reared red drum have
    begun to show up in the recreational fishery. As more hatchery-reared fish grow to the legal
    harvest size, we hope to encounter more hatchery-reared red drum.
Source - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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