Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wintry weather slows Ohio fishing licenses - with two noteworthy exceptions

Pummeled by the unusually sustained cold weather, sales of Ohio fishing license have largely stalled.

Largely, though entirely, says the to-date statistics related to sales of the state’s various fishing and hunting licenses.

Provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Ohio Division of Wildlife the data reveals that the issuance of resident annual Ohio fishing is off 15 percent. In raw numbers this translates into 126,439 such documents being issued to-date this year compared to 148,785 resident adult licenses sold during the same period in 2013.

In all last year the Wildlife Division sold 653,798 resident adult annual fishing licenses. Such licenses represent the fiscal backbone of the Wildlife Division’s fisheries-related economic tally.

Down also are sales of non-resident adult annual fishing licenses, as well. The to-date figures for this important category are 6,805 so far for this year and 7,502 for the same period in 2013. Last year the Wildlife Division sold 32,914 non-resident adult annual fishing licenses.

However, two categories of fishing license sales are actually up; and the suspect for causing the increase is the weather, says Tom Rowan, a Wildlife Division’s assistant chief.

Increased sales are being noted in the categories of both one-day fishing licenses and three-day non-resident fishing licenses.

Data supplied by the Wildlife Division show that so far this year the agency has issued 1,673 three-day fishing permits compared to the 2013 same to-date tally of 25,360 three-day licenses for a 27-percent gain. In 2013 the agency sold 25,360 three-day fishing licenses.

Again was noted also for sales of one-day licenses to non-resident adults. The current 2014 to-date figure for this category stands at 2,254 one-day tags end compared to the 2013 to-date sale of 1,756 such documents. That increase totals 28.36 percent.

In 2013 the Wildlife Division sold 28,487 one-day non-resident fishing licenses.

“I believe what happened is that a lot of anglers saw and took the opportunity to go ice fishing in the Western Basin,” Rowan said. “Guides up there said the season was one of the best they saw in a long time. People took advantage of that good fishing and it’s reflected in the sales of three-day fishing licenses and one-day non-resident fishing licenses.”

Rowan said that overall fishing sales are off, though such shifts are hardly unusual. The same situation was seen early on 2012 when cold and wet weather struck early also, Rowan said.

“Sales boomed last year this time because we had a mild spring,” Rowan said. “We always see license sale increases when the weather is nice.”

Like the sale of Ohio fishing licenses their respective hunting brethren tags also have slid, though hardly enough to elicit a yawn by the Wildlife Division’s bean counters.

The to-date sale of 2014 general resident adult hunting license figure is off less than 8 percent while sales of spring turkey tags is down slight at 5.5 percent.

Neither drop is even worthy of the smallest of worries, including those for spring turkey permits, says Rowan.

“It’s just like what we see for the deer season; a lot of turkey hunters wait until just before the season starts,” Rowan said.

And that season begins Monday, April 21 with this Easter weekend dedicated to youth only.

Perhaps another area where the on-going wintry weather has impacted sales involves the one-day and seasonal shooting range permits. The first category is down 23.48 percent while the second category is down 12.45 percent.

The Wildlife Division operates five Class “A” supervised rifle and pistol shooting ranges around the state that each require a participant to first purchase either an one-day or else a seasonal permit.

“You can never predict what’s going to happen with license and permit sales because of factors like the weather,” Rowan also said. “But our sales have been steadier than those seen in other states. We take these ups and downs into account when we work up our budget.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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