lantic Coast states sponsor citation programs in which anglers are awarded citations for fish that are at or above specific weights. The Virginia program is the best example of this type of data (Figure 2-7). The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament records the number of citations awarded each year to anglers catching trophysize fish of specified weights. Most other state programs are much smaller.

Citation data must be used with care because the effort of obtaining these trophy fish is not included and the weight that defines a trophy fish has changed over the years. Nonetheless, these data do reveal general trends in the abundance of large fish. For summer flounder there was a general increase in the number of trophy citations from 1958 to 1977, even with an increase in minimum citation weight. From 1978 to 1992, the number of citations remained low, despite a lowering of the minimum weight for a citation fish. Since the early 1990s, the number of citations awarded has increased dramatically. The trends in citations reflect, to some extent, the availability of large fish in the population. Although commercial fishermen expressed concern that older fish were potentially missed by NEFSC trawl surveys, some of these fish are apparently distributed near shore, where they are captured in recreational fisheries, primarily in the summer. A comparison of such data with commercial catch data from the same area could be used to crosscheck data sources and assumptions. Tournaments provide another auxiliary source of recreational data, particularly snapshots of the abundance of legal-size fish at particular times and locations.

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