- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Craig Springer writes, "From Dame Juliana to Nick Lyons, for 500 years writers have waxed poetic about the virtues and vices of fishing. Some lament the challenges, others applaud the rewards. Izaak Walton wrote in his 1653 Compleat Angler that fishing 'will prove to be a virtue, a reward unto itself.' No doubt, as any fishing aficionado knows, the sport has its intrinsic value. The rewards of fishing are many, and one of them is coin in the coffer."
Springer, a fisheries biologist, recalls this past July, when New Mexico's national forests reopened after a two-month closure because of fire. "You could hear money dropping in the cash register," he wrote. "Most of New Mexico's trout waters are in its national forests, and fishermen headed back to the water.
"Fishing is big business, not only in New Mexico, but around the U.S., and the positive impact to the economy is measurably large according to the USF&WS; 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation."
For example, in New Mexico alone last year, 314,000 anglers spent about $175million on their piscatorial pursuits. Nearly $77million went toward fishing gear, $30million for transportation and $36million for food and lodging. That number is easily doubled in East Coast states like Maryland and Virginia, where freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities are in ample supply.
Nationwide, 34million licensed anglers spent nearly $36billion last year, and that number alone contributed nicely to the gross domestic product. Actually, anglers spend much more than that, but figures are hard to come by when you have only the number of freshwater licensed anglers thought to live in the United States.
There are no hard statistics about the millions of American fishermen who do not need to be licensed for various reasons, including saltwater anglers who live in states that do not require a license, as well as children or senior citizens who do not need a license no matter what type of fishing they prefer. Then there are Armed Services personnel who can fish away from their home states with only a military ID card in case a game warden shows up.
The various guesstimates concerning America's love affair with fishing range from a low 34million licensed freshwater fishermen provided by the USF&WS; to industry estimates of 54million. Some fishing publications have pegged the number of anglers licensed or not at around 65million, which is nearly twice the number given by the federal officials.
Whatever it is, we know it's the biggest segment involved in recreational pursuits. Skiers, bowlers, tennis players, golfers none of these groups comes remotely close to the army of sport anglers.
The Fish & Wildlife Services' Springer, who is more familiar with southwestern states and the impact fishing has on them, points to detailed economic analyses in Arizona and in the Southeast to show how far the fishing dollars go.
Springer provides an example. He says, "The Lake Havasu Fisheries Improvement Partnership, led by the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game & Fish Department, the USF&WS; and nonprofit Anglers United, sunk 875 acres of fish habitat structures in Lake Havasu on the Arizona-California line; the improvements attracted fish and fishermen. Economist Dr. Bernard Andersen determined for the American Sportfishing Association that the sport fishery associated with Lake Havasu created 650 jobs and generates $2.4million in business taxes and a total economic output of $34million per year."
Government economist Jim Caudill studied expenditures by trout anglers in the Southeast alone and their impact on the economy. Caudill's findings are revealing, to say the least. Anglers spend more than $107million a year directly on fishing for trout. That money in turn generates another $212million a year in related spending.
IGFA elects bass boss to board The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), headquartered in Dana, Fla., has landed one of the biggest fish in the bass fishing pond. Ray Scott, founder of the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) and known around the fishing world as the "Bass Boss," has been named to the IGFA's elite board of directors.
Scott, 68, who some years ago sold the BASS organization (which eventually became the property of the ESPN cable TV network), nowadays runs Ray Scott Outdoors Inc., a marketing and consulting group based in Pintlala, Ala.
The IGFA is recognized as the authority concerning fishing records anywhere in the world. It also provides exact fishing tournament standards of conduct that are accepted wherever contests are held. Not long ago, the IGFA handled only saltwater fishing records and related subjects, but now it also has a freshwater division.
With the naming of Scott, the IGFA hooked itself a sport fishing industry giant. A smart move, indeed.


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