Conservationists say free fishing weekend is a great occasion to link a younger generation with all the advantages fishing provides. In 2021, approximately 272,000 Michigan residents and visitors obtained a fishing license for the first time, and sales to young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 reached 129,553, marking the three–year average of 125,427 from 2017 to 2019.
“The state of Michigan, two times a year, has free fishing weekend. The goal of that is to promote aquatic resources in the state of Michigan, provide recreational opportunities, and just show the public all the opportunities that are available in the state of Michigan,” said Justin Chiotti, fish biologist at the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation office.
Fishing has a tremendous impact on the Michigan economy in terms of jobs. “In certain locations when fishing is good it’ll bring in money, new people, and tourism into those areas,” said Chiotti.
According to a 2019 study, fishing and hunting provided the state of Michigan with about 171,000 jobs. “There’s a lot of anglers out there catching fish. They provide a lot of input or income to some local economies and that something I know a lot of local economies depend on are the recreational anglers in certain parts of the state”, Chiotti said.
Conservationist efforts balance animal populations and protect Michigan waters and wild life habitats. “We need to make sure our aquatic resources are protected and the more we can engage the public and show them about these resources they become stewards and help protect these resources and take care of them as well,” said Chiotti.
The Michigan Game and Fish Protection Fund generated $66 million from licenses purchased by hunters and anglers. Fishing and hunting equipment sales raised an additional $32 million for wildlife and natural resource management.