Anglers in North Carolina and Virginia who are looking for privacy at good fishing spots should head for the mountains, according to a Virginia Tech study of freshwater recreational fishing sites in the two states.

“While there are good rivers and lakes close to the big cities, there is the potential for them to be overcrowded,” said Professor Paul Angermeier. “Ecological degradation can be avoided by enhancing crowd management, improving habitat quality, or revising advertisements to attract anglers to fishing spots that are more likely to be sustainable.”

“Our objective was to map a cultural ecosystem service by identifying the key features that influence anglers’ enjoyment, such as environmental quality, accessibility, and fish abundance,” said Research Scientist Amy Villamagna. The team’s study appears in the journal Ecological Indicators.

Freshwater recreational fishing generates income, jobs, and funding for conservation. Ecological properties that contribute most to fishing success are habitat quality and fish abundance, while key management factors for freshwater recreational fishing are boating access, publically accessible areas, advertised fishing spots, and game-fish stocking.

“As a cultural service, freshwater fishing would not exist without the wide array of regulating and supporting services, like water supply and purification,” Villamagna said. “We tried to capture these important background functions in a multi-indicator framework while also recognizing the social aspects that contribute to fishing for recreation.”

“The process also provides a coherent framework for evaluating other wildlife-based recreation services, such as hunting and bird watching,” said master’s student Beatriz “Tiz” Mogollon.

Read the full press release.