Erie guides fishing for help from state
Written by Cleveland Pain Dealer   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 22:06
Ohio's Lake Erie fishing guides are struggling to stay afloat in these tough economic times. After surviving record marine fuel prices in 2008, many on the sports-show circuit report that bookings for 2009 are slow.

"We need an incentive to bring fishermen to Lake Erie," said Jack Tibbel. "Our party-fishing business was down about 50 percent in 2008. While fuel prices are better now, the economy is sure to be a problem all summer."

Tibbel wants the Ohio Legislature to give Lake Erie fishermen a break by creating a special boat license for guides on the lake, especially the party-fishing boats taking 20 to 40 anglers after perch and walleye. Florida has such a license that costs the guide boat up to $1,000 per year, but exempts customers on board from having to buy a fishing license.

"Many of our customers go fishing once a year," said Tibbel. "The one-day Ohio license costs $11. We're keeping our daily rate at $37, but people tell us that having to also buy a license makes the trip too expensive."

Tibbel has four party-fishing boats docked at Tibbel's Marina on Marblehead, as well as two regular charter boats that each take out six anglers. He believes a party-boat license should cost $800, and a regular charter boat license $600.

Deputy Chief Jim Marshall of the Ohio Division of Wildlife is not in favor of a boat license that would exempt anglers from needing a one-day ($11) or season ($19) license.

"We've discussed it," said Marshall. "The biggest problem would be that we would probably have to raise general fishing license fees to replace the lost revenue from the boat licenses. And if we had a license for fishing guides, would hunting preserves and hunting guides want the same thing?"

Ohio licensed 793 Lake Erie fishing guides in 2008, a large drop from the 1,221 guide licenses sold in 1989, the heyday of Lake Erie walleye fishing.


 
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