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Brad Laabs: Fishing brings $2.4 billion to state’s economy

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We all know that fishing is an important and significant pastime, hobby, or for some us, addiction.

Our area is rich in fishing opportunity and draws many visitors because of all the lake activity. Minnesota has 1.5 million licensed anglers. We have many out-of state fishermen that also buy fishing licenses and spend money enjoying what our area has to offer.

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It is estimated that fishing brings about $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota fourth in the nation for angler expenditures.

Average angler expenditures per person is about $1,500. For those of you that don’t spend that much, don’t worry, I spend much more and easily make up the difference to keep the average up.

I know others like me that also tip the scales for those anglers that only spend a few bucks and don’t get out fishing that often. Minnesota has way more people that fish than get out to vote!

Minnesota ranks second to Alaska in resident fishing participation at 32 percent. It is hard for me to believe that more people golf in Minnesota than fish, but then I remembered that golf is for those that don’t know how to fish!

I would like to see us overtake Alaska in our percentage of residents that fish. That may seem like a lot, but when I think that means almost 70 percent of the residents in Minnesota don’t take advantage of fishing as a life-long recreation, that seems kind of sad to me.

I would also like to see us get more young people engaged in fishing. Young people are the future of the sport, and we depend on the new inductees to be able to carry on the traditions and values of fishing to the generation to follow.

Get them off the computers, cell phones, and away from the TV sets. Make sure they become fisherman or they may have to resort to playing golf as adults. That is very limiting, and not nearly as spiritually healthy!

Just kidding golfers, if you can find time to both golf and fish, please do so.

The most sought-after fish species in order of preference are crappie, sunfish-pan fish, walleye, northern pike, bass, musky, and trout.

I think in our area the musky has become more sought-after than the bass. It seems that visitors to our area, especially starting in June, are after the walleyes and musky even more than the other species.

When you include the whole state, the species preference gets tilted towards crappie and sunfish because of walleye availability. Our area is rich in crappie and sunfish opportunities, as well as the walleye, bass, northern, and musky.

Ice fishing for crappies and sunfish-pan fish is so popular around the state that the scales may get tipped their direction as the most sought after. Perch fall into the pan fish category.

It is hard for people to know how much they may love to do something if they don’t get introduced to the activity.

It is never too late to start fishing! If nobody took the time to introduce you to the sport, have someone that you know that fishes take you out.

Fishermen, take a risk and get someone out and introduce them to fishing and teach them.

Hire a guide if you don’t have a fishing connection!

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