Fishing License Sales Plummet, Could Busy Lifestyles Be to Blame?
On a sun-baked day at Fish Lake in Maple Grove, Ian Landers and Pierce Holmgren paddled their kayaks in pursuit of fish. Despite Monday’s pristine setting, these Maple Grove teenagers are part of a shrinking group.
According to data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the number of fishing license sales is down by 41,000, or 4.8 percent, compared to the same last year. That’s the second lowest number of licenses sold in almost 20 years.
Too Busy to Fish?
Tom Knisely with the Three Rivers Park District says there’s a reason for that.
“There are a lot more choices now,” said Knisely. “In the summer it used to be sort of the rite of passage. You just go hop on your bike and go to the lake and you can go fishing. Now you have traveling basketball and traveling baseball and traveling soccer. You even have summer hockey.”
Knisely believes there’s another reason too: fishing can be intimidating and costly.
“Fishing has become so sophisticated now that it can be a little overwhelming for a novice,” said Knisely. “Now we have fancy bass boats that you can stand up in while you’re casting and you can even steer and drive the boat with your foot while you’re looking down at your side sonar.”
Making Fishing Accessible
The goal of the Three Rivers Park District is to simplify fishing and make it accessible to everyone.
“Back in the day you had a lawn chair and a cooler and you put a worm on the end of a bobber, cast it out there,” said Knisely. “That was good enough.”
Three Rivers tries to provide better access with boat ramps, fishing piers and boat rentals,
“For native Minnesotans, fishing is kind of a way of life,” Knisely said. “It’s what we do.”