Gas prices worrisome to anglers

Springfield – John Abbott recently had to make a plastic
decision many of his fellow Illinois anglers dread.

It wasn’t a choice of worm to use – Abbott had to decide how to
use the plastic in his wallet.

“My daughter had a softball tournament in west suburban Chicago,
about a 150-mile roundtrip,” the Pontiac man explained. “I had a
crappie fishing trip planned the next weekend down to Lake
Shelbyville, about a 250-mile roundtrip.”

Two different trips, two different weekends. So what’s the
problem?

“Honestly, I couldn’t afford the gas to make both trips,” Abbott
said. “What could I tell my daughter? I skipped the crappie
trip.”

Rising gas prices are starting to come into play across Illinois
– not only with fishermen and hunters, but with other types of
sportsmen, too.

At the U.S. Open Trapshooting Championships earlier this month
at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, the
number of entries was down about 1,000 compared to the 2007
event.

Tournament Director Dave Cassens blamed rising gas and
ammunition prices. He said overall participation has been down
industrywide since last fall, when already-high gas prices began
ballooning.

According to Cassens, a large number of shooters travel to
events in RV campers.

“I haven’t heard of a single major shoot since last winter that
has shown an increase in participation,” Cassens said. “A lot of
shooters have to be choosy about where they shoot. Diesel fuel is
near $4.50 per gallon, and it takes a lot to keep those RVs going
around the country.”

Meanwhile, spring turkey hunters and anglers are staying closer
to home.

“With the high gas prices, everything that pertains to hunting
and fishing has went up in price,” Russell Wood, of Basco, said.
“And it isn’t appearing to be getting cheaper anytime soon.”

A survey of the state’s marinas shows that many operators expect
lower demands for boat fueled this summer, as anglers cut back on
the amount of time they spend tooling around in their boats.

“A lot of guys will just stay in one spot longer, instead of
really moving around a lake to find fish,” Kankakee River fisherman
Todd Lambert said.

Fishing tournaments could take a hit if fishermen decide to
forgo events that require moving up and down a lake or river.

“You’ve always paid your entry fee and the cost of gas was
incidental,” Paul Gee, of Chester, said. “Now you’re going to be
spending double on gas of what the entry fee is. That will turn a
lot of guys away. Forget about out-of-state trips.”

At least one national survey begs to differ.

In a March poll of almost 2,000 anglers by AnglerSurvey.com, respondents were
asked if they are planning a fishing trip outside their home state
within the next year. A clear majority (59.4 percent) answered
that, indeed they were. A little more than 40 percent said they are
not planning to fish outside their home state.

As fall hunting seasons arrive, many Illinois sportsmen are
already thinking about how they will handle rising prices.

“There’ll be a lot of carpooling, riding together, sharing
rides,” Wood said.

Abbott said his fishing and hunting plans will depend on other
activities.

“I think the family vacation will double as my one fishing trips
this year – and that’ll be pretty close to home, I figure,” he
said.

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