As recession deepens, more Americans go fishing

Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:47pm EDT
 
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By Jason Szep

MEREDITH, New Hampshire (Reuters) - From his wooden fishing shack on Lake Winnipesaukee's thinning skin of ice, Mike MacDonald doesn't need to think twice about why more Americans are going "fishin'" in the deepening U.S. recession.

"This costs $6 to get a bucket of bait and it will last the whole day," he said, skinning a fish next to a hole drilled into the frozen New Hampshire lake. "Compare that to skiing -- one day of skiing would cost $80 just for the lift ticket."

As Americans forgo expensive vacations, costly dinners and shopping mall splurges, many are opting instead for the quiet simplicity of fishing, according to the sport fishing industry and reports from bait shops and fishermen.

From the icy north to fly-fishing streams in Texas, angling is on the rise. For families, it's an inexpensive outing. Those with a knack for it can trim their grocery bills. And for newly unemployed, it's something to do.

"I'm seeing a lot more fishermen down here," said John Miller, owner of Bob's Sport & Tackle in Katonah, New York. "With the economy the way it is, people are getting laid off from work and don't want to sit at home and do nothing.

"The cheaper alternative," he said, "is to go fishing."

Hard times have had this effect on Americans before. In the last U.S. recession, from 2001 to 2002, spending on fishing rods and reels rose 12 percent to $343 million, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, a trade body that measures how much people spend on sporting goods.

That can add up. When including the cost of fishing rods, tackle boxes, lures, lines and other equipment, recreational fishing in the United States is a $2.2 billion industry, according to the association's data, which excludes spending on fishing tourism, clothing and fishing lessons.   Continued...

 
<p>Dan Seguin sets one of his lines while ice fishing on Pemigewasset Lake in New Hampton, New Hampshire March 7, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>