Sports and Outdoors

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Indiana muskie guide business growing

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

A growing industry has emerged in northeast Indiana to help anglers catch muskies, and the local economy is benefiting.

About 10-15 professional muskie fishing guides now operate in northeastern Indiana—a direct result of Indiana’s successful muskie stocking program, according to DNR fisheries biologist Jed Pearson.

Combined, those guides generate about $150,000 in annual income. Indirect spending, such as travel, food and lodging add another $20,000 to $25,000 dollars of economic value annually from guided muskie trips.

“Although these figures are low compared to traditional muskie states, Indiana’s muskie guiding business is only 10 years old,” Pearson said,

The DNR, began stocking muskies in various waters in the late 1970s to offer anglers a new fishing opportunity in Indiana. As the DNR muskie program developed, angler interest in Indiana muskies gradually grew. Entrepreneurial anglers saw a business opportunity and eventually a professional muskie fishing guide industry arose.

Muskies are stocked annually now in six northeast Indiana lakes The DNR estimates anglers make about 15,000 Indiana muskie fishing trips a year.

About 300 to 400 of those are through professional guides, with anglers paying about $325 per trip.

In Indiana, anyone who takes a person fishing for hire must first be licensed by the DNR.

Guides are also required to submit to the DNR daily logs that detail the location, hours fished, and fish caught by their customers. Biologists use these records to help monitor changes in muskie fishing and success of the stocking program.

From 2001 through 2011, muskie anglers booked 2,900 fishing trips. Fifty-six percent were at Lake Webster in Kosciusko County. Another 21 percent were at nearby Lake Tippecanoe, and 17 percent were at the Barbee Lakes. Guided muskie trips were also taken at Loon, Skinner, and Upper Long lakes.

“We saw an exponential rate of growth of guided muskie fishing from 2001 through 2008,” Pearson said. “Trip numbers fell in recent years, most likely due to the slow economy, but we think they will rebound.”

Despite fluctuations in the number of trips per year, guided anglers have caught an average of 300 muskies annually at these six lakes during the last eight years.

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