Angler catch rates often are used to monitor angler success, assess the need for additional management actions, and evaluate the effectiveness of management practices. Potential linkages between catch rate and angler party size were examined to assess how party size might affect the use of catch rate as an index of angler success in recreational fisheries. Data representing 22,355 completed interviews conducted at access points in lakes and reservoirs throughout Mississippi during 1987-2003 were analyzed. Total party catch was not proportional to total party effort; thus, catch rate decreased as party size increased. Depending on the taxa targeted, the average catch rate per angler decreased 40-50% between parties of one and parties of two, although subsequent decreases were less substantial. Because party size accounted for a considerable portion of the variability in catch rate over time and space, failure to remove this variability weakens the manager's ability to detect differences or changes in catch rates. Therefore, the use of catch rates to monitor fisheries may be inappropriate unless party size is taken into account. Party size may influence the angler's ability to catch fish through a variety of processes, including partitioning a limited number of catchable fish among members of a party and party composition. When catch rates are used to estimate total catch rather than to index angler success, party size is not a concern.