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Access is an issue that affects 1 in 5 anglers

February 9, 2011 | 11:25 am

A fly-fisherman on Colorado's White River.

Considered a challenge faced largely by hunters, access to areas to enjoy their sport is an obstacle anglers deal with as well, according to results of a recent survey.

When anglers were asked by AnglerSurvey.com if, in the past year, they had to cancel a trip or stop fishing a particular area because they could no longer access it, 19.5% of respondents said they had, largely consistent with results to the same question posed the previous year.

The 2010 survey, which measured angler experiences from 2009, found that 81.5% of concerns raised involved freshwater fishing locations where angler access was affected by low water levels due to drought or lake draw down, pollution generated from excess runoff as a result of storms, boat ramp closures, and limited public right of entry points. Only 19.7% of access concerns affected saltwater anglers that year, but in the January 2011 survey -- measuring angler experiences from 2010 -- that number jumped to 24.8%.

While the poll did not examine causes for limits on access, 2010 witnessed several issues affecting  saltwater fishing which may have led to the jump in access issues. Chief among these were the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which closed much of the area to fishing last summer; bottom fishing closures in the Southeast; and additional sportfishing closures along the California coast as part of the Marine Life Protection Act.

"These closures impact not only anglers, but businesses and families along the coast that depend on sportfishing. When people want to fish, but have to cancel because they are unable to  access decent fishing spots, we see a greater deterioration of jobs, tax revenues and commerce in general," said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which creates and manages the surveys. "Anglers need to stay in touch with fisheries agencies and sportfishing groups to minimize any future problems."

Launched in 2006, AnglerSurvey.com and HunterSurvey.com help the outdoor equipment industry, government fisheries and wildlife officials, and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. The results are analyzed to reflect all U.S. anglers and hunters.

Those who hunt, fish and target-shoot are invited to participate in either or both survey sites. Respondents are entered in a monthly drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A fly-fisherman on Colorado's White River. Credit: Tyler Baskfield / Colorado Division of Wildlife