TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The coronavirus outbreak has left many people with more free time, and with that more Kansans are trying their hand at fishing.
As soon as the country came to a halt because of coronavirus, Don Hutley, owner of Don & Tom’s Bait & Tackle in Topeka said business started going up.
“It was like someone just opened the floodgates, because everybody went fishing and we’ve been just constantly keeping the place stocked up” Hutley said.
“This is probably, I would say out of 15 years of doing this, this has been my busiest year ever,” he said.
Kansas Department of Parks, Wildlife, and Tourism said the amount of state fishing licensing sold was up 40,000 in April and May compared to the same months last year.
“When fishing is good, it really helps, and then with all the additional leisure time because all of the other competition for leisure has been severely hampered, we’re seeing a really increased use of our fisheries as a result,” Doug Nygren, fisheries division director for KDWPT, said.
The increase in fishing comes after a down year with flooding last year. That meant many fishermen were ready to get on the water as soon as they could this year. Couple that with people being cooped up in the house, it’s keeping bait shops busy.
“Fishing has been that outing for them to just get away from just being at the house,” Hutley said.
Hutley said because of the increase in business he’s constantly calling suppliers to make sure his shelves are stocked.
“All the stockpiles were depleted, so then we were using our own stockpiles, and then we depleted them. Now we’re kind of just waiting for everybody to get back into the regular mode of reproducing supplies,” he said.
Officials said they will be tracking just how many of the people buying licenses are new to fishing. They hope this is a trend that continues.
“We’re going to be working hard to keep people engaged, and make fishing top of mind as a leisure activity going forward,” Nygren said. “We hope that as a result of coming out this year and experiencing fishing, that next year it will be a higher priority because they had a great time and they’ll want to repeat it.”
Nygren said the more licenses that are bought, the more funding that goes to stocking lakes with more fish. The state also receives more funding when the number of licenses goes up.