Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Michigan Tourism?

For decades we traveled an hour or so away to fish the waters of southwest lower Michigan.  Not counting the past few years we would head north from Indiana to fish for up to five or more weekends in that Great Lakes State. No longer.

In an email from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources it came to my attention that state will be charging the outrageous fee of $76 for an 2014 annual fishing license while state residents will pay only $26. I know the cost of a license goes to preserving and enhancing their natural resources and the outdoor experience but this is going a bit too far and non-residents will bear most of that cost.

In the Chicago metro area the Michigan department of tourism airs an onslaught of broadcast advertising to entice locals to make Michigan their vacation destination. The images are what one would expect with sunset vistas, lush green panoramas and happy families enjoying everything the state has to offer but focused mostly on outdoor activities.

Want to take your family fishing in Michigan? Well, if ONE DAY of your trip involves fishing for salmon on the big water, casting a fly in the Pere Marquette River or just catching panfish off the dock then dad and the two kids will be charged $30 for the privilege of wetting a line. Not horribly bad. More than one day? Then it doubles. A three day fishing trip for dad and the two kids will cost a total of $90 whether they catch anything or not. For an annual license the family will dig deep for $228. Add that to the cost of fuel for the trip, food, lodging, guide, boat rental and bait and the cost becomes so high most middle class young families with low incomes will simply say no to Michigan.

Fishing was once a healthy outdoor activity most middle and lower class families could count on as an affordable summer getaway. By raising these fees Michigan is telling these regular folks to $tay away. I know there are a lot of fishermen who have $40,000 bass buggies trailing behind $45,000 Ford Excursions who will just fork over the fee. But the regular guy who can barely afford to rent watercraft let alone own a small boat will reconsider if the fishing is that much better on that side of the border.

I have heard the claim that in Michigan one could not walk six miles in any direction without running into fresh water be it a lake, pond, river or stream. License fees for non-residents are always higher than resident licenses. Here's a state that relies heavily on tourism and in raising their fees so high the numbers don't add up when one considers the additional revenue a family brings into the state when they head up for a weekend fishing getaway.

How does this compare with other Great Lakes states?

Wisconsin has a lot of water, great fishing opportunities and is another state that relies on tourism to generate revenue. For 2014 Wisconsin is charging $50 for an annual non-resident fishing license. Here's where Wisconsin plays the tourism game much better than Michigan. Wisco is charging only $65 for an annual non-resident FAMILY fishing license. As long as the the members of the family are under 18 years of age the entire family is covered. Wisco makes a very positive tourism statement with this family friendly fee.

How about Illinois? Now here's a state where the politicians would rape their mother to take in an extra dollar for the state. Illinois is charging $31.50 for an annual non-resident fishing license. Not bad comparatively. Then again, Illinois isn't able to offer the scenery or fishing opportunities as Michigan and Wisconsin do. Same goes for Indiana.

For 2014 Indiana allows non-residents to purchase an annual non-resident fishing license for $35. $3.50 more than Illinois.

Farther north in Minnesota non-residents will fork over $45 for the annual privilege. Of these five Great Lake states if I were to pick the one state to plan a family fishing trip in it would be Minnesota. Far and away they have more water, more and larger fish as well as a total great northwoods experience.

As the fishing season nears we will be taking the annual trip to northwestern Ontario where an eight day non-resident license fee will be $52.41. That is for only eight days but the fee is well worth the quantity and quality of the entire excursion compared to Great lakes states in the U.S.. On top of that our entire Canada trip costs about $1000 per person for the entire week including transportation, food, lodging, bait and beer.

I'm sure I will fish Michigan this year, once or maybe twice. So I will go with the daily $10 fee if and when I do. I had planned on going more often this year but not now. Think I'll stick around closer to home and enjoy what we have to offer right here.

For me the annual Michigan fee won't break my bank it breaks my heart to see them charge so much. Many non-resident young middle class families may reconsider how deep into their pocket a fishing trip to Michigan would be worth.

Muck Fichigan!

1 comment:

Terry from Crown Point said...

Florida allows me to purchase a non res annual license for $47. Best part is that it's valid for 1 yr. from date of purchase and the next annual is valid from the date of its' purchase. I've had 2 annuals "stretch" into a 3rd yr. of trips.