Motivations of Tasmanian Trout Anglers
Michael Burgess, a post graduate student from the Australian Maritime College, conducted a study researching the motivations of Tasmanian trout anglers last year and in this article he discusses the results and their implications for increasing angler participation.
So what motivates Tasmanian trout anglers? Is it the satisfaction of catching a wily wild trout? Is it floating a dry fly on a mountain stream? Or is it appreciating the solitude of a highland tarn with the chance of catching a trophy sized brown trout?
All of these experiences are unique to the trout fishery of Tasmania and inspire anglers to participate in trout fishing. Being a keen trout angler myself, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a study with the aim of determining the most important fishing experiences that Tasmanian trout anglers valued in their fishery.
To a casual observer of recreational fishing, it could be interpreted that the primary motivation of recreational anglers is to catch a fish. However there is so much more to recreational fishing than simply catching fish.
This fact was confirmed when I conducted a mail survey investigating the motivations of Tasmanian trout anglers last year. The survey was a requirement of the Bachelor of Applied Science Fisheries degree with Honours from the Australian Maritime College. The survey conducted between August and October 2003 was the first survey researching trout angler motivations within Tasmania.
The mail survey comprised a covering letter, a six page self administered questionnaire and a postage paid return envelope. The questionnaire contained 28 questions that sought information on the demographic characteristics of anglers, their trout fishing experiences in Tasmania, their motivations for trout fishing and the level of satisfaction with their trout fishing experiences in Tasmania.
After the questionnaire was developed, the Inland Fisheries Service (IFS) was contacted to seek the agency's approval of my mailout package. I had originally intended to contact anglers directly after obtaining their personal details from the IFS licence database. However, due to privacy issues, an agreement had to be reached with the IFS.
The resulting agreement involved the IFS posting 500 letters and consent forms to licence holders within Tasmania. These letters informed anglers" of the survey to be conducted by the Australian Maritime College and sought their consent in releasing their contact details to the researcher. Anglers who were willing to participate in the survey were asked to fill in the consent form and return it to the IFS in the pre-paid envelope provided. The IFS then posted the returned consent forms to the Australian Maritime College.
From the 500 consent forms sent to anglers by the Inland Fisheries Service, 49 anglers expressed interest in receiving the questionnaire and were subsequently posted my mailout package. A total of 43 questionnaires were returned for data analysis and although this is a low response rate, some interesting results were still revealed. These results may be beneficial to the Inland Fisheries Service who are currently seeking to increase angler participation within the state's trout fishery.
One of the research objectives of my study was to determine if Tasmanian trout anglers were primarily motivated by catch related experiences or non catch related experiences. Catch related experiences may include the desire to catch fish for eating, to catch a trophy sized fish, to catch more fish than your fishing partners or to catch a bag limit. Non catch related experiences that prompt anglers to go fishing may include the desire to improve their angling skills, to try new fishing gear, to enjoy the company of friends and family, to relax and to enjoy the outdoor experience.
By gaining an understanding of the experiences that are important to anglers, fisheries managers can then implement programs to increase satisfaction. By increasing angler satisfaction new individuals will be encouraged to enter the fishery thus increasing angler participation. For example, if the majority of anglers were primarily motivated by high catch rates, fisheries managers could devote more effort towards an intensive stocking program. They could increase the number of stockings of hatchery raised trout, particularly brook trout and rainbow trout, species which have anecdotally been easier to catch than wild brown trout.
Anglers participating in the mail survey were presented with two questions concerning their motivations for trout fishing in Tasmania and these two questions formed the basis of my study. In the first question, anglers were presented with 14 motivation statements and were asked to indicate the importance of each statement as a reason for trout fishing on a scale of one (not at all important) to five (extremely important). Five of these statements dealt with catch related experiences sought in recreational fishing while the remaining nine motivation statements dealt with the non catch related experiences sought in recreational fishing. In the second question, anglers were presented with 26 motivation statements and asked to indicate the importance of each statement as a reason to fish at the individual trout fishing location in Tasmania that they fished most frequently during the 2002/2003 fishing season. Nineteen of these statements dealt with non catch related experiences associated with recreational fishing while the remaining seven statements dealt with catch related experiences associated with recreational fishing.
The responses from anglers to these two questions were used to generate two tables (see Table 1 and Table 2) which display the motivating factors for trout fishing and the motivating factors for fishing at a Tasmanian trout fishing location. The motivating factors within these two tables are displayed in decreasing order of importance, thus enabling the researcher to determine the most important factors motivating anglers to go trout fishing in Tasmania and the most important motivating factors that anglers saw in a Tasmanian trout fishing location.
In order to display the motivating factors within the two tables, in decreasing order of importance, an index score was calculated for each motivation statement based on the respondents" ratings for an individual statement. An example of obtaining the index score for the motivation statement, "To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout" is displayed below.
Step 1. Establish the total number of respondents who rated each answer category for the motivation statement, "To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout'.
In this instance, 15 anglers rated the motivation statement "I go trout fishing to experience the satisfaction of catching a trout" as an extremely important reason for them to go trout fishing, 13 anglers rated it as very important, 12 anglers rated it as moderately important, two anglers rated it as slightly important and one angler rated it as not at all important. These values were then multiplied by their corresponding category scores and this process is displayed as follows:
15 (Respondents) * 5 (Rating of extremely important) = 75
13 (Respondents) * 4 (Rating of very important) = 52
12 (Respondents) * 3 (Rating of moderately important) = 36
2 (Respondents) * 2 (Rating of slightly important) = 4
1 (Respondents) * 1 (Rating of not at all important) = 1
Step 2. Establish the index score for the motivation statement, "To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout'.
Once the total number of respondents for each answer category were determined, these values were summed together and this total value divided by the sample size of 43 respondents. The resulting value is the index score. This process is displayed below.
75 + 52 + 36 + 4 + 1 = Sum of 168
Index score calculation = 168/43 (Sample size: 15 + 13 + 12 + 2 + 1)
Index score = 3.9
This index score enabled the ranking of the motivation statement and established it's importance in relation to the other motivation statements. This process was conducted on each motivation statement and the resulting index scores enabled a ranking of importance of each motivation statement.
Table 1. Anglers were asked to indicate the importance of 14 motivation statements as reasons for them to go trout fishing. All 43 anglers responded to this question and their responses were analysed to create the table below, displaying each motivation statement for trout fishing in decreasing order of importance. Responses to each motivation statement were scaled as follows: 1 = not at all important; 2 = slightly important; 3 = moderately important; 4 = very important and 5 = extremely important.
Motivating Factors For Fishing
I go trout fishing
To enjoy the outdoor experience.
To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout.
To experience the thrill of stalking the trout.
To spend time with friends.
To get away from other people.
To develop my angling skills.
To spend time with my family.
To catch a large trout.
To obtain trout for eating.
To try new fishing gears.
To catch a large number of trout.
To catch more fish than my fishing partners.
To attend organised club fishing events.
Table 2. Anglers were asked to indicate the importance of 26 motivation statements as reasons for them to go fishing at the trout fishing location they frequented the most during the fishing season. All 43 anglers responded to this question and their responses were analysed to create the table below. Responses to each motivation statement were scaled as follows: 1 = not at all important; 2 = slightly important; 3 = moderately important; 4 = very important and 5 = extremely important.
Motivating Factors For Fishing at a Tasmanian Trout Fishing Location
It offers an opportunity to fish for wild trout.
I want to experience unspoilt natural surroundings.
It has beautiful surroundings.
It has good water clarity.
It is easy to fish from the shore.
It has easy access around the shoreline.
It is a water where you are likely to see only a small number of anglers.
It is a challenging water where you need skill to catch a trout.
It features sheltered locations where you can always get out of the weather.
It is a water which offers a good catch rate.
It is good for dry fly fishing.
It is a well reputed trout fishing location.
It is close to home.
It is good for boating.
It is good for polaroiding/sight fishing opportunities.
It is a location where the family has a good chance of catching a trout.
It is good for lure casting.
It is easy to launch the boat.
It has good 2WD vehicle access to fishing locations.
It is good for wet fly fishing.
It has good quality camp sites.
It offers an opportunity to catch a trophy sized trout.
It is a good for trolling lures.
It is good for bait fishing.
It is a water where bag limits can be achieved.
It is close to my shack.
Other Survey Results
This summary displays questions in their full context and the results from each question are displayed in a table format.
Question 2. Are you? (Tick(?) one box.).
No of Respondents
Question 3. What is your age? (Tick(?) one box.).
No of Respondents
14 to 17 years old
18 to 25 years old
26 to 35 years old
36 to 45 years old
46 to 55 years old
56 to 65 years old
66 years or older
Question 6. Anglers were asked to indicate which country they were born in and the
number of respondents born in the indicated countries is displayed in the
Country of Birth
No of Respondents
Question 8. How many years have you been trout fishing in Tasmania? (Tick(?) one box.).
Trout Fishing Experience
No of Respondents
Less than 1 year
Greater than 20 years
Implications of Results for Increasing Angler Participation within the Tasmanian Trout Fishery
The motivation analysis revealed that non catch related experiences including enjoying the outdoors (4.3) and relaxing (4.2) were the most important factors that motivated anglers to go trout fishing in Tasmania. The catch motivation statement, "To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout', was ranked third most important with an importance rating of 3.9. This suggests that while the expectation of catching a trout is important to Tasmania's trout anglers, it is evidently not their primary motive for trout fishing in Tasmania. This result is consistent with a number of previous motivation studies researching recreational anglers in the United States which also demonstrated that anglers were primarily motivated by non catch related experiences, particularly relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.
It is interesting to note that the motivation statements, "To experience the satisfaction of catching a trout" (3.9) and "To experience the thrill of stalking the trout" (3.5) were rated as more important than three catch related statements, "To catch a large trout" (2.8), "To catch a large number of trout" (1.5) and "To catch more fish than my fishing partners" (1.5). This suggests that Tasmanian trout anglers do not want their trout fishing experience to be too easy or predictable. The thrill of stalking a trout and the subsequent success or otherwise is more important than the number in the bag. I guess this is what keeps us trout anglers enthusiastic of the next fishing trip. If anglers were guaranteed of bagging a trout on every fishing trip, the appeal of trout fishing would be lost and anglers would soon look to other recreational interests including golf, hunting or rock climbing perhaps.
The trout fishing location analysis (see Table 2) reveals that the catch related motivation statement, "It offers an opportunity to fish for wild trout" is ranked as the most important factor with an importance rating of 3.8. The non catch related motivation statements including, "I want to experience unspoilt natural surroundings" (3.3), "It has beautiful surroundings" (3.2) and "It has good water clarity" (3.2) were ranked second, third and fourth respectively. This suggests that while angling for wild trout is the most important factor that anglers look for in a fishing location, it is also important that the location features unspoilt surroundings (i.e., maintaining the wilderness experience and good water quality).
The results for this location analysis suggest that the Inland Fisheries Service should continue to ensure the majority of trout fishing waters in Tasmania are managed as wild trout waters but at the same time work with supporting government departments (i.e., Hydro Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania, Parks and Wildlife Service) to preserve and maintain environmental values (i.e. water quality, maintenance of water flows at fishing locations) in order to maintain the wilderness trout fishing experience which Tasmania has become renowned for.
It is also interesting to note that there were only a few respondents from the younger age groups (14 to 17 years old and 18 to 25 years old) and minority groups (i.e. women and people from ethnic backgrounds) who participated in the survey. The
majority of respondents who participated in the survey were experienced trout anglers and this is indicated by the fact that they were 26 respondents with more than 20 years trout fishing experience in Tasmania. It should also be noted that the respondents surveyed were full season licence holders only and did not include juveniles (less than 14 years old) and short term licence holders (one day, three day and 14 day licences).
I have thus recommended within my report that future studies researching trout angler motivations or satisfactions within Tasmania focus on these minority groups in order to understand their motivations for participating within the Tasmanian trout fishery. By understanding the motivations of these minority groups, fisheries managers can aim to provide the fishing experiences that will encourage increased participation from these groups.
The results from my study have thus indicated that Tasmanian trout anglers view the natural environment in addition to catching wild trout as the most important experiences that influence them to participate in the Tasmanian trout fishery. However it would be to the benefit of the Inland Fisheries Service if they were to make a commitment to understanding the motivations of minority groups (i.e. women, children, people from ethnic backgrounds) within Tasmania and tourist (interstate and overseas) trout anglers. Understanding what motivates individuals from these groups to participate in the trout fishery could assist fisheries managers to provide the necessary fishing experiences demanded by these groups and thus increase their participation within the fishery.
Recruiting more anglers from the minority groups within Tasmania and tourist anglers into the Tasmanian trout fishery could result in flow on benefits to the popular angling regional areas within Tasmania (i.e. the Central Highlands, the Northern Midlands and the North West coast) through an increase in employment opportunities. Tackle shops, fly casting tuition, guiding and accommodation are services used by all anglers participating within the Tasmanian trout fishery and all of these services benefit the Tasmanian economy. The increased employment opportunities could thus provide an incentive for the state government to provide further funding to the Inland Fisheries Service, thus enabling the agency to continue it's research and management activities and maintain the sustainable development of Tasmania's trout fishery.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to all anglers who participated in my survey and to the Inland Fisheries Service for supporting the study. I hope this article encourages further discussion that will aid the Inland Fisheries Service in their attempts to increase angler participation within the Tasmanian trout fishery.
The full report titled, "Factors Motivating Anglers to Participate in Trout Fishing in Tasmania', can be viewed at the Australian Maritime College Library, Beauty Point Campus, Northern Tasmania or contact me on 0419 43 22 45 if you would to discuss the study in further detail.
References used in this article
Bryan, H. 1977, "Leisure value systems and recreational specialization: the case of trout fishermen', Journal of Leisure Research, vol. 9, pp. 174-187.
Calvert, B. 2002, The Importance of Angler Motivations in Sport Fishery Management, in Recreational Fisheries: Ecological, Economic and Social Evaluation, eds Pitcher, T.J. & Hollingworth, C.E., pp. 130-136, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK.
Fedler, A.J., & Ditton, R.B. 1986, "A framework for understanding the consumptive orientation of recreational fishermen', Environmental Management, vol. 10, pp. 221-227.
Ferrier, J. 2003, "The Motivation & the Trout Fisher', Northern Tasmanian Fisheries Association Annual Angling Report, edn. 105, pp. 40 - 44.
Inland Fisheries Service. 2002. Inland Fisheries releases draft Fisheries Action Plan for comment. Angler News - Special Release December 2002 [Online], Available: http://www.ifs.tas.gov.au/Angler%20Bulletin/Angler%20Bulletin%20Special%20Fisheries%20Action%20Plan%20November%202002.pdf [Accessed 2 April 2003].
Moeller, G.H., & Engelken, J.H. 1972, "What fishermen look for in a fishing experience', Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 36, pp. 1253 - 1257.
Ross, M.R., & Loomis, D.K. 2001, "Put and take fisheries: investigating catch and retention assumptions', Fisheries, February 2001, pp. 13 - 18.
Sautelle, J. 1990, Champagne Fly Fishing, Tas Trout Publications, Rosny Park, Tasmania.