|Great Lakes Anglers|
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Boaters and boat retailers had a good year in 2006. Leaders of the industry-wide Grow Boating Initiative began a national marketing campaign, Discover Boating, designed to raise awareness and bolster public outreach for the boating lifestyle (Boating Industry, 2006). And, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 57% of all anglers ﬁshed from boats in 2006. These 17 million boating anglers enjoyed their ﬁshing trips in a variety of waters, including the Great Lakes, and other bodies of fresh water and salt water. The Great Lakes had the largest proportion (74%) of anglers that ﬁshed from boats, and they spent 60% of their ﬁshing days on watercraft. Saltwater ﬁshing also had a high percentage (69%) of angling boaters, while ﬁshing from boats in fresh water other than the Great Lakes was not as popular (52%).
The National Survey deﬁnes the following eight states as the Great Lakes region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Michigan had the most anglers (461,000) and angling boaters (350,000) in the Great Lakes. Ohio took second place with 328,000 anglers and 263,000 angling boaters. Indiana had the highest proportion of boating anglers, with almost 90% of their anglers ﬁshing from boats.
Another way to get a measure of effort is by looking at the average number of days anglers spent boating during one year. On average, anglers in the Great Lakes region spent 10 days ﬁshing from boats. Indiana anglers had the highest annual average, with ﬁshermen spending 17 days ﬁshing from boats, while Michigan anglers were second with an average of 13 days ﬁshing aboard watercraft.
A demographic proﬁle of anglers who ﬁshed from boats in the Great Lakes revealed a tendency toward older, higher-income, more metropolitan ﬁshermen. One-third of boating anglers in the Great Lakes were 55 years or older, and two-thirds were urban dwellers. Fishing from boats continued to be male-dominated, but this doesn’t mean that women didn’t enjoy or partake in the sport. When asked who Great Lakes boaters took with them ﬁshing, 15% replied that their spouses or partners accompanied them most often. However, friends were the most common occupants aboard anglers’ boats in the Great Lakes. Although a small percentage of angling boaters preferred to ﬁsh alone, this may be due to the size of their watercraft.
The most important decisions boaters could make include the types and sizes of boats to buy or rent. This depends on a number of factors, including travel distance and water conditions. Motorboats were the most popular choice for ﬁshing: 81% of saltwater, 79% of Great Lakes and 71% of other freshwater boaters ﬁshed from them. In the Great Lakes, the majority of angling boaters preferred boats between 17 and 25 feet long.
To paint a broader picture of angling boaters in the U.S., the 2006 National Survey went beyond just asking about the types and sizes of boats used. The information boaters needed and where they went to ﬁnd information were important questions asked in the survey. U.S. angling boaters needed information on a variety of topics, including identifying ﬁsh species, weather conditions, ﬁshing rules and regulations, and water attributes such as depth. In order to ﬁnd answers, boaters looked to family, friends and other boaters as their most reliable sources of information. The Internet was another popular source of information, especially for Great Lakes angling boaters.
Angling boaters in the U.S. spent close to $10 billion on boats, accessories, rentals, and more. Great Lakes boaters spent an average of $511 for a year of Great Lakes ﬁshing. Saltwater anglers had the highest per-boater average with $596, and other freshwater anglers spent an average of $480 ﬁshing in 2006.
A boat launch is a common way for boaters to access the water. More than half of all Great Lakes boaters used boat launches on at least one of their ﬁshing trips in 2006, and ﬁshermen traveled an average of 6 to 20 miles to access them. Saltwater anglers were least likely to use boat launches, and generally traveled 20 miles or less to access the ocean.