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Anglers Pour Millions into Economy

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, July 9, 2004

Hottest spot in Idaho with $87 million spent is the Clearwater Region

Anglers may land the lunkers, but it's the state's business owners who net the most during fishing seasons.

According to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game survey, fishermen let $438 million slip through their hands while on fishing trips in the state in 2003.

The Clearwater Region was the hot spot for spending, if not fishing, last year. According to the survey, anglers who fished in the region dropped $87 million on tackle, transportation, food, lodging, guides and camping equipment.

That is about $10 million more than the next closest region, the upper Snake River region near Idaho Falls, which netted $77 million.

Anglers made 470,000 fishing trips to the Clearwater Region last year. While doing that they spent surplus cash on everything from boats to beer.

That kind of spending is critical to small-town communities like Riggins where anglers come to fish for steelhead and salmon. The town is just slowing down after a bustling two months of spring and summer chinook salmon fishing.

"It's been a real economic boom for our town," said Bob Zimmerman, the mayor of Riggins.

Zimmerman owns a tackle shop at Riggins and the liquor store. Sales at both of his businesses climb during salmon and steelhead seasons. He said another survey indicated the 2001 salmon season alone brought in more than $10 million to the town, about 23 percent of its annual economy.

The Fish and Game survey indicates anglers spend more money on eating out and stocking their coolers than they do on transportation, lodging, guides and equipment. Anglers spent $148 million on grub last year compared to $62 million on tackle and $45 million on lodging.

According to the study, anglers spent $52 million in the panhandle region last year. Anglers in the southwest region, centered near Boise, spent $74 million. Fishermen spent $56 million in the salmon region centered near the town of Salmon. Magic Valley anglers, near Twin Falls, spent $42 million and anglers in the southeast corner of the state, where fishing has been hit hard by a persistent drought, spent $16 million.

The southwest, which is the state's most populated region, saw the most anglers with an estimated 668,000 fishing trips.

The department contacted 12,000 anglers by mail for the survey and asked them how much money they spent on fishing trips and how often they wet a line.

Eric Barker
Anglers Pour Millions into Economy
Lewiston Tribune, July 9, 2004

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