- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What a novel idea. With our national economy still tanking, unemployment rising and only certain bank and investment company CEOs facing a rosy future, a new study shows that perhaps we all should be going fishing.

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and the American Sportfishing Association have issued the first quarterly fishing license sales index, designed to track trends that have an impact on recreational fishing. It found that sport fishing is undergoing a national rise in popularity.

For some reason, Indiana leads the way. Nationwide, the increase of anglers has been 7.7 percent. But Indiana is doing slightly better at 8.1 percent.

“Reasons for the 2009 license sale increases range from a slow economy, which may allow people more time to engage in outdoor activities, to recreational fishing being a lower-cost alternative to other forms of recreation,” said Frank Peterson, president of the RBFF.

Said ASA president Mike Nussman: “Not since the 1970s have we seen a single-year increase in fishing license sales like we’ve seen so far in 2009.”

If you’re wondering why Maryland and Virginia haven’t been mentioned, only 10 states thus far have been selected for the quarterly index, primarily because those states are able to supply consistent license sales data. Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Utah were selected along with Indiana, but more states will be added to the index as they expand their data reporting capacity.

I find nothing particularly earth-shaking about all this. For decades now, I’ve been telling readers to go fishing. It is the most relaxing and often most rewarding recreational activity young and old can participate in.

But if fishing isn’t in your plans, a radio report I heard last week said that if you invest in recreational fishing companies - manufacturers of rods, reels, lures, line, certain boats and even specialty clothing favored by fishermen - you stand to get more bang for your buck than you might from many other investments.

What I can’t understand is the RBFF’s Peterson saying that recreational fishing is a lower-cost alternative to other forms of recreation. Oh?

If so, Mr. Peterson, how about telling my wife that I absolutely needed those two new Revo STX bass fishing reels, each of them costing well over $200. Tell her they were bargains. And let her know that my $18,000 boat was a bargain (it actually was) and that I’m in bad need of a new high-speed rain suit, the kind that won’t allow rain water to come through the sleeve and neck openings even if the boat is moving along at 40 mph. It’ll cost around $400, but tell her that fishing equipment is a low-cost alternative to buying golf clubs or clothing.

Yeah, right. Not.

Junior deer hunt in Maryland -The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters age 16 and under that Nov. 14 will mark the state’s 15th annual Junior Deer Hunt. The hunting of white-tailed and sika deer with regular firearms will be legal that day, but the youngsters must be accompanied by an unarmed, licensed adult of at least 21 years of age.

Trout Unlimited hero -Trout Unlimited volunteer Howard Kern of Westlake Village, Calif., was named Field & Stream magazine’s 2009 conservation hero of the year.

“Howard represents the best of TU’s members,” said Chris Wood, the trout fishing and conservation organization’s chief operating officer. “He is selfless, generous and committed to making the world a better place. Howard has led dozens of work trips taking hundreds of volunteers into California’s Golden Trout wilderness to recover the habitat of its namesake fish. He was instrumental in developing the fly-fishing merit badge with the Boy Scouts.”

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.