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Fishing’s popularity grows in pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world and the region, it has also had a positive ripple effect. More and more Pennsylvanians are heading to the state’s many lakes, rivers and streams to fish and kayak.

The number of people buying fishing licenses has risen more than 18 percent, from 723,871, at this time last year, to 856,382, as of July 8, according to Mike Parker, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

While at first, the commission feared the public health crisis might quash the state’s fishing and boating season, it turned out the opposite was true.

Calling the nearly 20 percent spike in sales “unprecedented,” Parker said, once people realized fishing and boating could be enjoyed safely during the pandemic, visitors flocked to the state’s 86,000 miles of waterways. Pennsylvania is second only to Alaska in its number of miles of rivers, lakes and streams, noted Parker.

“People are discovering and rediscovering fishing,” Parker said, adding, “our challenge is to continue that.”

Launch permits, which reflect the number of people kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, are also on the rise. Up 54 percent from a year ago, growth in those activities has increased some 50 percent in the past decade, according to the commission.

The Fish and Boat Commission is funded entirely from its license and boat registration fees. For about $30, a person can fish any stream, river or lake in Pennsylvania.

To learn more about fishing and boating in the state, visit