By Howard Meyerson
Grand Rapids, Mich. — It may be the weather or Michigan’s new license structure, but fewer anglers have purchased fishing licenses this season compared with 2013. State officials say the license year is half over, but the decline in sales, so far, is clear.
“It’s hard to tell what it’s attributed to,” said Kristen Shuler, analyst with the Michigan DNR licensing and reservation section. “It was a cold summer and it may be more weather-related, but we don’t know yet.”
What is known is 58,401 fewer “unique customers” purchased fishing licenses as of Sept. 30, according to Shuler. Dealers had sold fishing licenses to 1,046,075 customers, compared with 1,104,476 customers by the same time last year.
Most of the decline occurred with nonresident anglers, who saw annual license fees increase from $42 to $76 for Michigan’s all-species fishing license.
Many opted to purchase $10 daily licenses instead.
“A lot of people bought five or six daily licenses rather than pay $76,” said Denise Gruben, manager for the licensing and reservation section. “The longer-term trends are that participation is declining, and we were excited to see that it went up in 2013. That was an early start year. We had a warm spring. But in 2014, people in the U.P. were afraid of hitting an iceberg with their boats.” Continue reading