Iowa sells record number of fishing licenses
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (AP) – Fishing license sales in Iowa have hit a record for the past decade as anglers taking advantage of the warm weather to hit prime fishing spots gave a state wildlife fund a much-needed boost in revenue.
Fishing license sales by the Iowa Department of Revenue in the first quarter topped 100,000, surging past early season sales in other years by 16 percent or more, the Gazette (http://bit.ly/JqyNe1 ) reported Monday.
Some anglers have been out for months.
Wayne Witte, 75, of Oxford, and some buddies said they've been fishing almost every day since February, and they've caught a few beauties, including 40- to 50-pound flathead catfish.
Witte was fishing near the Coralville Lake spillway last week.
"We've caught some nice ones,'' Witte said, then added with a laugh, "but don't broadcast it. They'll all be down here. We're gonna be in trouble.''
The boom in fishing licenses means more revenue for the department's Fish and Wildlife Fund, which is used, in part, to protect and enhance fish and wildlife populations.
Department officials said the trust fund has been shrinking in recent years and mounting expenses have Iowa due for a fishing license fee increase – something that hasn't happened since 2004 when the cost of a fishing license went from $10.50 to $17.50
This year's strong sales will ease some of the pressure and enable more projects until the Legislature can act, said Joe Larscheid, the agency's fisheries chief.
Mike Steuck, supervisor for the department's fisheries in northeast Iowa, said this year's early sales surge appears to be mostly weather-related, with above-average temperatures for months. Iowa's fisheries are open year-round, he said, but there are more open-water fishermen than ice anglers.
"I also bought my license early because the weather was so nice and the trout streams were still fishable,'' Steuck said.
The department is working to sustain the strong sales with social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
"Good spring weather makes anglers happy, and we are riding a hot streak,'' said one recent tweet.