Recreational valuation and management implications for the southern Lake Michigan fishery

Major Goals and Objectives

This project first collated more than 50,000 data records from creel surveys conducted in Illinois and Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. Linear models were used to explore relationships between fisheries data and ancillary data such as fish abundance, fish stocking, prey densities and environmental parameters. The project then estimated an economic valuation of the Lake Michigan shoreline and boat fishing activity to anglers.

Accomplishments / Benefits

Story: Lake Michigan anglers boost local Illinois and Indiana economies

Tool: Angler Archive Your guide to recreational fishing data in Southern Lake Michigan.


economics, fisheries, recreation fishery, survey, willingness-to-pay

Lay Summary

Recreational fishing is important to communities and businesses of southern Lake Michigan. State agencies interview anglers each year to estimate total fishing effort and catch of popular fish species. Over the past 30 years, the recreational fishery has changed quite dramatically, likely due to changes to the ecosystem, as well as changes to fisheries management and fish stocking. This project pulled together all available data for recreational fishing in Illinois and Indiana waters of Lake Michigan with the aim of identifying specific factors that might be driving changes in fishing effort and catch. Prey fish availability and environmental factors influenced effort and catch rate of some species. Interestingly, fish stocking rates were not related to catch rates. Working closely with state agencies in 2015, we collected new data from anglers to determine their willingness-to-pay for a fishing trip, which allows us to estimate the value of recreational fishing in southern Lake Michigan. Based on these estimates, we find that (non-charter) recreational fishing originating from Illinois and Indiana shores of Lake Michigan in 2015 was worth $3.6-$4.0million to anglers themselves, which represents additional value over and above expenditures on food, fishing supplies and other items associated with recreational fishing. An important outcome for this project was to develop an easy-to-use website where scientists, managers, anglers and any other interested people can view and explore fishery data. This project has increased our understanding of the dynamics of recreational fishing and may help fishery managers and community planners develop strategies to enhance the fishery in southern Lake Michigan.


Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Undergraduates / Graduates

  • Xiaoyang He, Purdue University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Doctoral student, expected to graduate in 2020.
  • Hannah Smith, Purdue University, Department of Biological Sciences, Undergraduate student, expected to graduate in May 2019.
  • Dominique Turney, Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Research Information

Principal Investigator:
Mitch Zischke
Initiation Date:
Completion Date:
Purdue University


Mitch Zischke
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