Fishing cheap way to bring home dinner
Written by Dayton Daily News   
Sunday, 29 March 2009 17:17
Business has been very good this spring at Gene's Marine bait shop on the south side of Indian Lake. Gene Marciniak, a veteran of 30 years in the bait business at Russells Point, knows the reason.

"So many people have time to go fishing now, because they are out of work," Marciniak said. "On Monday, a day when business is usually slow, we had 129 people come into the store. That's a lot more than usual. And I asked them from time to time, how many of you are out of work. A large number said they were."

Although Indian Lake's fishing has been exceptionally good this spring — for saugeyes in particular — the number of people fishing has shot up all across the country. Tackle manufacturers are reporting record sales. There's little doubt the main reason is the recession.

"People are fishing who have never had the time before and they are putting some food on their tables," said Leon Cole of Cole's Bait and Tackle between Paint Creek and Rocky Fork Lakes, east of Cincinnati. "We have definitely seen an increase in the number of people this year."

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. A man or woman gets laid off from a job. Instead of sitting around moping, they either spend time looking for work or take a break and do something to relax.

While other activities might be expensive, fishing isn't, especially if you have some kind of tackle lying around the house. Your drive should be rather short, given the number of lakes in the area, and all you need is a little bait, costing less than $10. Or maybe you don't even have to buy bait if you have some artificial tackle. Your only real expense is a fishing license ($19 for resident adults) and that's good until March 2010.

Compare those costs to playing a round of golf or taking a vacation at a resort.

"Right now, there is a pretty good chance to take home some food, and they don't even need a boat. Fishing from the bank has been very good," Marciniak said.

The reports from Lake Erie echo that sentiment.

"We were busy last year and just about all the captains I have talked to have even more trips booked this year," said Rick Unger of Chief's Charters, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. "I have lost just two trips because guys canceled after they were laid off. But overall, I have more booked."

Unger said the captains at his marina, Channel Grove near Marblehead, are holding the prices to last year's levels and that might entice customers. He also thinks some people who might otherwise drive to Canada are fishing Lake Erie.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, difficult economic times bring an increased interest in fishing. During the downturn of 2001 to 2002, spending on fishing rods and reels rose 12 percent to $343 million. It's now over $356 million, the association reported.

Meanwhile, another business that predicts a growth spurt during the recession is camping, both private and public. In Ohio, state parks hardly have enough money to operate, much less expand, but private campgrounds across the country are gearing up for added activity.

"The recession is temporary, and most campground and RV resort operators believe that it behooves them to move forward with their improvement plans if they want to remain competitive with other travel and tourism options," said Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, representing more than 3,700 private parks across the country.

So far, Joe Landis at the Dayton Tall Timbers Resort KOA in Brookville has not seen much difference in the number of campers at his facility.

"I think it balances out," Landis said. "It's hard to say, but we probably gain a few because of the recession, but we also lose a few for the same reason.

"We are a busy campground. We are full for all of the holidays and other peak times. I don't see that changing."

Landis said that while he makes improvements to his park each year, adding a café last season, he has no plans to expand the number of camping spaces.

"We're using all the room that we have," he said.
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