Angler ("creel") surveys are studies made to estimate amounts of fishing and fish catch. Data related to angler habits, attitudes, and other water recreation are also collected and analyzed. These surveys reveal aspects of fish populations and angler experiences our netting surveys lack, which help us form a more complete picture of a lake's fish and fishing.
This survey type, while providing useful information, is more labor-intensive and costly compared to our typical fish and lake studies. And, like any type of sampling, angler surveys have shortcomings. It is rare any lake has an angler survey done more than once every 15 years, and most lower-use waters have never had one made. With recent budgets and reviews of survey priorities, the number of angler studies has been greatly reduced. That is why we have no local angler surveys more recent than 2005.
Keep in mind these survey summary results are a "snapshot in time," rather than current information or a "fishing report." Fishing conditions vary each year, and fish populations change. Many generations of fish live less than a decade. Add to it effects of fish management changes (for example, a switch from stocking tiger muskie to pure-strain muskie), and reliably comparing past and present fishing conditions is very difficult. Nonetheless, angler surveys provide overall information on the type of fishing available, water recreation characteristics, and results of fish management.
Angler ("Creel") Survey Summaries, In Order of Most Recent To Least Recent: