Cold, wet weather takes toll on Ohio fishing license sales

Columbus — With the ongoing cool-down of temperatures and the bountiful deluge of both rain and snow, to-date sales of fishing licenses in Ohio are experiencing a deep chill of their own.

These sales are the kick-off to the state’s fishing season, too, with anglers turning hopeful gazes at the walleye run in the Maumee River, reef fishing in the Western Basin, angling for spawning steelhead in Northeast Ohio, bass fishing in the Ohio River, and crappie fishing everywhere else.

Statistics for both fishing license sales as well as weather data demonstrate how the two are joined at the hip.

The National Weather Service notes that during March at Cleveland, for example, the daily average temperature was 34.4 degrees, which was 4 degrees below the daily average. For precipitation, the Weather Service reports that during March, Cleveland received 4.01 inches of precipitation, or 1.08 inches above the month’s average.

April has not proven any better, either. The to-date daily temperature at Cleveland for the month is 41.5 degrees, which is 6.2 degrees below the month’s daily average. Meanwhile, 3.86 inches of precipitation has thus far fallen, which is 1.56 inches above average.

But the dismal weather pattern is not occurring just at Cleveland, of course. Over in Toledo for April, the to-date temperature stands at 39.4 degrees, a whopping 7.9 degrees below that city’s to-date average. And while the rainfall gauge at Toledo for April has not encountered the same overflow as seen in Cleveland it has still recorded a thus-far surplus.

What all of this is leading to are declines across the board in the to-date sales of fishing licenses of all kinds.

For to-date (as of April 17) sales of resident Ohio fishing licenses the number has plunged 28.5 percent, from 200,537 sold for the period Feb. 22 through April 17 in 2017 to 143,318 so far in 2018.

During this same period, sales of nonresident fishing license has dropped from 13,125 to 10,032, or a decline of 23.6 percent.

One-day fishing license sales are off as well. Sales of these permits stood at 3,005 for the stated period in 2017 to 2,150 for the same recording period this year. That translates into a decline of 28.5 percent, the DNR Division of Wildlife’s statistics reveal.

Perhaps noteworthy also is the decline in the sale of one-day charter boat licenses to nonresidents, presumably issued to visiting out-of-state anglers who want to fish for walleye on Lake Erie’s Western Basin reefs. Here, in 2017 the to-date sale of these tags was 641, while this year that number stands at 357, or a fall of 44.3 percent.

One of the few gains seen is the sale of three-day tags for some reason. This document has seen its sales rise by 7.6 percent.

In all, however, the to-date issuance of all types of fishing licenses in Ohio has dropped 25.4 percent. In 2017 the to-date total was 266,351 documents, and so far in 2018 the number is 198,659.

Interestingly, the sale of spring turkey hunting tags in Ohio has not encountered issues. The wildlife division’s running scorecard shows that sales of resident spring turkey permits is down less than 1 percent while sales to nonresidents are actually up 16.1 percent.

And sales of youth spring turkey permits have increased as well: 9.2 percent, to be exact.

The wildlife division has always said that it understands the dynamics that weather plays in sales of both hunting and fishing licenses. This is why the agency ensures that a fiscal buffer exists in order to prevent one bad year from depleting the Wildlife Fund, an act that requires careful money managing, the wildlife division has repeatedly said.

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