Businesses optimistic about fishing season financial boost

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ONEIDA COUNTY, Wis.— Towns that rely on people coming to fish are hoping to see a repeat of the popularity seen in 2020.

Minocqua is one community that relies heavily on fishing-related business. From fishing guides, to bait shops, to other businesses, it makes up a significant portion of the local economy. 

Kurt Justice owns Kurt’s Island Sport Shop, a longtime bait and fishing equipment shop in town. He expects a strong fishing season ahead. Justice says he saw a boost in business in 2020 as people spent more time outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He says it led more people to purchase equipment, a trend he hopes remains longer term. 

“We are seeing more people get into the sport,” says Justice “It is a good sign for fishing, I think for a long time we have been losing out to video games and indoor things and I think a lot of people are suddenly opening their eyes to the outdoors.” 

Other businesses that aren’t directly tied to fishing feel the impact as well.

Michael Johnson runs Dan’s Minocqua Fudge downtown. He and staff have been busy making ice cream and a variety of confections in advance of the opener.

He says fishing no doubt has a ripple effect for local businesses. 

“If people come in to fish, at some point they do get off the lake and into town, so it is a big part of what makes up Minocqua. Whether you are fishing directly or a guest of someone coming up to fish,” says Johnson

The Wisconsin DNR estimates that fishing has an annual economic impact of over $2 billion in the state. ​

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