New Fishing App Can Track Anglers’ Catches, Provide Valuable Ecological Data
Imagine you’ve decided to go on a fishing trip to Alaska, knowing that king salmon weighing up to 100 pounds had been caught there. You hope to make the catch of a lifetime, and earn the bragging rights that come with your aquatic prize. After doing so, you’ll need a way to brag. Sure, you could post a picture to Facebook, but that’s not very official.
Luckily, a new app being developed in Minnesota could pioneer a way for competitive anglers to boast.
The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working together to develop a free smartphone app called iFish Minnesota that would allow anglers to log what they’re catching, how big their catches are, and where they were caught.
For decades, the DNR has relied on time-consuming and expensive surveys to compile data on the ecological effects of fishing. With the iFish Minnesota app, the DNR can quickly and effectively utilize ubiquitous mobile devices to gauge fishing pressure — how fishing affects Minnesota’s lakes — and sure that fish populations can still reproduce.
University of Minnesota researchers hope to convince between 20,000 and 30,000 anglers to use the iFish Minnesota app, and sign up for iFish Forever, a free add-on that would allow anglers to share their fishing data anonymously.
If between 30% and 50% of them use the app regularly, it could provide a reliable alternative to the traditional creel survey, and provide researchers with data on even more lakes.
“It’ll all be anonymous. We’re not going to be posting your hot fishing spot or anything like that,” said Melissa Treml, fisheries research and policy manager for the DNR. “It’s just for general, broad-scale patterns in their angling behavior, which we hope will help us better manage the fisheries.”
After one year of using the app to collect data, researchers will compare it with the other, more traditional methods of collecting data. If successful, similar apps may catch on elsewhere, providing anglers all over the nation with a way to boast about their catches.