LORAIN, Ohio — While the pandemic plagued many businesses, it’s fueling fishing charters, according to one report.
In 2020, Ohio saw the eighth-largest increase in fishing charters, up 80% compared to 2019, according to FishingBooker.com, the world’s largest online fishing trip booking site.
Delaware topped the list with an increase of 109% for 2020 compared to 2019, while Hawaii saw the sharpest decline, down 39% compared to the previous year.
For area boating charters, 2021 looks to be bringing even more business to those on Lake Erie.
Denny Viers runs Eyepopper Fishing Charters out of Oasis Marina in Lorain.
“I have no weekend days until August,” he said. “I’m currently at about 38 [charters] on the books, and I’ve run two [so far].”
Viers started fishing for walleye a little earlier in the season this year, after 2020 kept him busy and his calendar quickly started to fill up.
“My phone started ringing in June and never stopped until way into August,” he said. “I ran almost double my normal trips in one season. I’m already looking like I'm going to surpass that this year.”
In Ohio, the daily limit for walleye is six per individual.
Viers, a retired Rocky River teacher, argues the pastime is a perfect option during the pandemic.
“It’s because the pandemic had people pinned down,” he said. “They didn’t go on vacation, so they had their money. They wanted out of the house, and wanted to do something, and what better way to do it than out on Lake Erie, out in the open.”
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, about 930,000 anglers bought fishing licenses in 2020, an 80% increase that mirrors the rise in boat charters.
Among those taking advantage on Lake Erie are Mario Toromanovic from Chicago, and his friends from Wisconsin and Florida.
“It's the beginning of the season,” Toromanovic said. “Especially because of the COVID-19, I thought [fishing charters] would go down, but I think everyone wants to go fishing. Nothing else to do.”
Last year was also the first year that ODNR raised the costs of a one-year fishing license from $19 to $25.