WEST MICHIGAN — No bait needed! It seems Michiganders were naturally attracted to fishing and hunting throughout the pandemic.
According to the DNR, Michigan saw a major spike in outdoor recreation as people looked to get outdoors and have fun, safely.
"We saw a really, really big jump this past fall and winter for sure in sales," said Matt Goehler. CEO of lake effect Lures company and RBM Jigs LLC. "Our website was up 3,000% this winter. So a huge, huge jump. As soon as we hit fall, we noticed a really big uptick in the number of businesses that were contacting us in regard to having our product on the shelves."
Goehler says like many other sporting goods businesses, his business saw a major uptick in their online sales and a demand from the bait shops that sell their products.
That surge in business, likely brought on by the pandemic according to Goehler.
"Each year, we've seen a pretty good level of, of growth. And so we weren't quite certain whether that was COVID related or not. But as soon as those shops opened up, we did notice that their orders were much larger," said Goeler. "Part of that, I think, was that they they did have the open shelf space, but also that their traffic was a lot heavier."
According to the DNR, there were 1.2 million fishing customers in Michigan.
"Our fishing customers were up compared to 2019, 10.6%, which may not sound like a lot. But given we have over a million fishing customers in any given year, that's a lot," said Dustin Isenhoff Research specialist with the Michigan DNR.
Overall 2020 reeled in more young people, versus those 65 years and old who typically make up most of the fishing and hunting population. In facrt, the 65 and older group dropped by 1.2% in 2020.
New fishing customers, who the DNR considers people that haven;'t owned a fishing or hunting license in five or more years, was up by 27%.
In addition, women participants were up by 23%.
While numbers for fishing saw a major uptick, so did hunting.
"So that number up not quite as high, that was up five and a half percent, or a total of 675,000 people. But again, new customers in that group was up 29% and female customers were up 14%. So we saw younger folks and new folks come out both in hunting and fishing in 2020," said Isenhoff.
With all of those new fishermen and woman, it's likelt they needed some new quipment, which buisnesses like Goelers and others I'm sure were happy to accomadate.
"The fishing area is never short on a kind of new things that are coming out. And so lots of people were taking advantage of that, and kind of just bulking up and trying it out," said Goehler. "You know, when when we lived through something like what we're going through, you would hate for your children to have to grow up and go through some of those early phase struggles, figuring out exactly what you need to do in order to find peace and happiness. And the outdoors provides that for a lot of people. And so it's cool to be able to equip our younger generations with that."