Marine recreational anglers caught more than 37 million spotted seatrout in 2006, according to new data included in "Fisheries of the United States - 2006," a report issued this week by NOAA Fisheries Service.
Spotted seatrout was the most popular catch among marine recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico. The top catches in other regions were striped bass (North Atlantic), summer flounder (Mid-Atlantic), spot (South Atlantic), chub mackerel (Pacific), black rockfish (Pacific Northwest), and yellowstripe goatfish (Western Pacific).
The same 2007 NOAA Fisheries Service report showed the 2006 catch of 475 million fish was up 11 percent over last year and marked the highest recreational catch total in the last ten years. Overall harvest levels also increased, nosing up 18 percent to nearly 214 million fish.
While anglers are keeping about 20 percent more fish than a decade ago, they are also releasing their catch more often. Of the 475 million fish caught by anglers in 2006, 262 million (55 percent) were released alive.
Recreational fishing continues to be one of the most popular outdoor sports. In 2006, more than 13 million Americans fished along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts, roughly the same number as 2005. These anglers took 89 million saltwater trips in 2006, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.
The statistics are compiled by NOAA Fisheries Service from in-person and telephone interviews with recreational fishermen.