Feb 282010

Shootin’ and snaggin’ with the frugal fisherman

It’s that time of year again. Spring is just around the corner and with it comes the expectations of a new fishing season. More importantly, water temperatures are starting to climb, and with each added degree of warmth fish are one step closer to pre-spawn stages.

Anyone who’s ever fished understands what pre-spawn brings—likely some of the hottest fishing the season will provide. Species like white and black crappie begin schooling and feeding in earnest in the mouths of creeks and along buried timber situated on the edges of deeper main channels. Largemouth, smallmouth, striped and spotted bass will be on the move, actively feeding in preparation for the spawn. Nearly every species is on the hunt in an effort to bulk up for the coming mating season. That means the average angler is faced with his best opportunity of the season to land the big one.

But before you can head out onto the water you’ll need to update that fishing license. March 1 marks the beginning of the 2010 fishing season. This year the cost of a license is the same as last, $20 for Kentuckians and $50 for out of state residents. In addition, you’ll need a $10 trout permit if you’re planning to keep any of those tasty brookies or rainbows. A one day fishing license can also be purchased for $7, and for heterosexual married couples, a joint license can be purchased for $36.

That’s pretty cheap considering how much fishing you get for less than $.06 a day, $.09 with a trout permit included, said Benjy Kinman, deputy commissioner and former director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“A fishing license is a great deal for families looking for cost-effective recreation,” he said. “Kids under 16 fish free and parents pay less than the cost of a night at the movies to fish all year long.”

Kinman added that fishing is a great way to also get people outdoors and off the couch. Or as he puts it, “away from the TV.” Beyond the immediate enjoyment of being outdoors or on the water, fishing is also an enjoyable escape that creates a lifetime of memories, Kinman said.

One of the more interesting aspects of purchasing a Kentucky fishing license is in knowing you will not only be “legal” this coming season, but that your $20 or $30 is going to be used directly for the betterment of fishing statewide. Kentucky’s fish and wildlife divisions are solely supported by the monies generated from license sales and boater registration fees. No general fund state tax dollars are used in any way.

In addition, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife uses the money to stock more than four million fish each year into the state’s lakes, rivers and streams. The department also builds and maintains public fishing piers and bank fishing access areas, enforces fishing and boating laws to ensure public safety and protection of fishery resources, and runs an expanding Fishing in Neighborhoods Program (FINs) to provide urban area residents with a place to fish nearby, Kinman said.

If you’re a hunter as well, now’s the time to save a few “bucks” by buying a joint hunting and fishing license. At a cost of $30 it’s a real deal, said Karen Waldrop, wildlife division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. That $30 covers fishing, as well as hunting for small game and furbearer species.

For the ultimate outdoorsman a sportsman’s license can be purchased for $95, which includes a combination hunting/fishing license, statewide deer permit, all spring and fall turkey permits, state waterfowl and trout permits, Waldrop said.

Money from hunting license sales produces many of the same benefits on land as on the water. Deer and turkeys, whose numbers dwindled in the early twentieth century, now thrive in Kentucky. The state routinely ranks in the country’s top five for Boone and Crockett trophy deer taken. A healthy elk population now roams eastern Kentucky, along with a growing number of black bears. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife continues its concentrated habitat efforts to stabilize and rebuild small game numbers statewide.

“Through purchasing a license, you are contributing to the conservation and management of wildlife in Kentucky,” said Waldrop. “License money pays for the restoration of species like deer and turkey, land acquisition, and the continued management of fish and wildlife habitat and populations.”

Lastly, money from fishing and hunting license sales goes towards education programs aimed at reaching hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians each year through classroom conservation education, conservation camps, hunter safety courses, aquatic education and more.

So now you know, buying a fishing or hunting license is much more than being legal for the coming year, it’s an investment in the future of Kentucky’s game, fish and waterfowl.

For more information on Kentucky fishing and hunting licenses, boater registration, fisheries management or where to fish, go to fw.ky.gov/.

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