Wisconsin fishing licenses surge during pandemic

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:50 PM CDT
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MOSINEE, Wis. (WSAW) - Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a good year for fishing stores with more people going outside to enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing.

The Wisconsin DNR said fishing licenses sold to residents have increased by nearly 100,000 this year compared to last year.

“Fishing licenses have increased almost 100,000 this year so we are up from about 337,000 to just over 435,000,” Wisconsin DNR Recreation Warden Mark Little said. “There are not only more people fishing and getting outside, but a lot more people walking, [they’re] on their ATV’s, UTV’s, so it actually has been really good to see people outside.”

Bait shop stores like Jr’s Bait and Tackle shop in Mosinee have been seeing a surge in sales with more people going fishing due to the pandemic.

“We don’t know what’s going on, but it’s a good thing for a small business like us,” Owner of Jr’s tackle and Bait Bruce Hintz said. “Customers are coming from all over, I’m getting people from Marshfield, Marathon, Spencer, Wausau. We’re shocked, We’re actually shocked, this quarter has been the best quarter since I opened up in four years, it’s just unbelievable.”

Even for some anglers, they’re shocked by the immense increase in fishing license sales.

“I’m amazed, I can’t imagine it, I just got mine like a couple of weeks ago,” Angler Samuel Jacoboski said. “It’s nice to get out, it’s quiet, it’s a nice beautiful day, it rained this morning, now it’s nice and calm.”

With social distancing measures in place, people are finding that fishing is one way to stay safe from the Coronavirus while still having fun. The DNR is seeing a five year high in fishing license sales and for Hintz, he hopes people will still find their fishing poles and come to his shop after the pandemic.

“Last year’s sales were steady, this year’s sales is like a fluke,” Hintz said. “That’s what we keep on saying, it’s a fluke because is it going to keep on going, or are these people going to quit fishing after this coronavirus is all over with?”

With Independence Day quickly approaching, the DNR says it is important to continue to practice social distancing while having fun and to remember boater safety especially with more people on the lakes.

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