Updated fishing economic stats now available for Ludington

Ludington is a popular destination for trout and salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. In 2013, charter fishing brought $1.87 million into the local economy and a single two-day tournament generated 2,519 employment hours for local businesses.

Charter boat fishing season provides for significant and positive economic impacts in Michigan's coastal communities. Photo credit: Michigan Sea Grant.

Charter boat fishing season provides for significant and positive economic impacts in Michigan's coastal communities. Photo credit: Michigan Sea Grant.

In 2009, a Charter Fishing Economic Impact Calculator was developed to enable coastal communities to better understand the relevance of fishing to local economies. The calculator was developed by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, Dr. Steven Miller of MSU’s Center for Economic Analysis, and Dr. Chi-Ok Oh of MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability. This tool is available for anyone to use, free of charge, on the Michigan Sea Grant website.

The tool uses economic multipliers based on specific regions and requires the user to input the number of charter trips. Based on the region and number of trips, the calculator returns economic impacts in 2009 U.S. dollars, which can then be adjusted for inflation.

Each year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources publishes the previous year’s charter fishing data online. Anyone can access the number of trips taken at each port, in addition to catch information and lake-wide stats. This information is a great way to find out what was biting when, and it provides the basis for figuring out how local businesses benefit from the tourists that charter fishing attracts.

For example, in Ludington last season, 1,445 charter trips were taken and 6,170 anglers fished aboard charter boats. According to a 2009 study, about 74 percent of customers who book charter trips travel specifically to participate in charter fishing. These are the tourists who come for the fishing but stay in hotels, dine at restaurants, and pick up supplies as local stores while they are in town.

For Ludington, this equated to $1.87 million in gross sales during the 2013 fishing season. Charter angler spending generated 38,497 employment hours and $803,025 in personal income last year. About 24 percent of economic impacts were realized in the hospitality industry and restaurants gained 1,787 employment hours due to charter fishing activity.

While charter fishing economics are relatively well-understood at the local level, the total economic impact of fishing is much larger. Recreational anglers often travel long distances in pursuit of the big one, and tournament fishing can draw both professional and amateur anglers from far and wide. 

A Lake Michigan Salmon & Trout Tournament Economic Impact Calculator was developed by the same team that developed the charter fishing calculator. All that is needed for input is the number of teams competing.

The 2013 Ludington Offshore Classic drew 120 teams to compete in the two-day pro-am. This tournament, alone, generated $108,963 in gross sales and 2,519 employment hours for businesses in the Ludington area.

This information just scratches the surface of total economic impacts generated by anglers in the Ludington area. Many anglers trailer boats to fish the big lake when no tournament is being held or come to town for inland fishing on Hamlin Lake, the Pere Marquette River, the Big Sable River or other destinations. 

Although it can be difficult to define and measure, the importance of fishing in Ludington and other coastal communities goes beyond mere dollars and cents. 


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