The scene you see (left) could be the tailrace from a western water storage facility, but it is the tailrace fishery beginning at Buford dam below Lake Lanier just north of Atlanta.

The impact of this tailrace fishery and many like it across the southeast US is felt economically in many diverse ways. This article will focus on Southeastern stocked trout and the part that trout fishing actually plays in our economy. I believe that the facts in this article will surprise you.

I have heard that if you want to be in the fly fishing industry, and want to have a million dollars, just start with two million dollars and give it a year. You'll have one million dollars. There is, however, big money in fishing! The following article was written by Craig Springer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, southwest region. Craig has touched on a subject near and dear to all of us fishers in the southeastern USA -- the economics of trout fishing in the SE USA. - Bill Byrd.

You want to talk economic stimulus?

A Southeast study reveals some $107 million a year is spent directly on fishing, which generates another $212 million in related spending. That is $319 million of economic impact in the Southeast alone!

Brown and rainbow trout make it to creels of attentive anglers like those (right) throughout the Southeast, thanks in large part to federal hatcheries. If it were a corporation, it would be among the Fortune 500 companies, ahead of some heavy weights like Dow Chemical and Microsoft. More than 35 million Americans like to fish, and anglers spend money - lots of it. Money spent fishing sends concentric rings outward through the economy, spreading the wealth to businesses that often are only tangentially related. A recent economic study on the effects of trout fishing in the Southeast U.S. brings to light just how wide the rings ripple.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service economist Jim Caudill, expenditures by trout fishers in the Southeast have a tremendous effect on local and regional economies. More than $107 million a year is spent directly on fishing, rising directly from six national fish hatcheries that produce trout. That money, in turn, generates another $212 million a year in related spending. "It's not just the bait dealer, it's the gas station owner, it's the hotel proprietor and restaurant owner that feel the effects of fishing," said Caudill. "There's a multiplier effect in the economy from an activity that is enjoyed by a large number of people." Even the ladies are getting in on the action! Jodi Berlin (above left) is a guide and active fly fisher in Atlanta.

Fishing is big business and money spent creates more jobs. According to Caudill, 2,800 jobs in the Southeast - a direct result of fishing for brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout - generate an annual payroll of $56 million. That's not just money in someone's pant pocket. This spending puts money into state and county treasuries: $6.8 million are collected each year in state sales and income taxes, and another $5.4 million goes to federal income taxes.

All of this economic activity, and the spending of money comes from what seems like an initial paltry investment of $2.1 million spent by the six national fish hatcheries to produce trout. Cold tailwaters are uniquely suited to support trout in the warm Southeast. "You can distill the effects even further," said Caudill. "For each dollar spent producing trout at these six national fish hatcheries, it generates through the economy upward of $140 in economic effects. Attendant to that is another $7.85 in tax revenue."

Trout fisheries in the Southeast are of recent vintage. Dams built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority essentially converted the warmwater bass and bream fisheries to cold water fisheries. The tailwaters below dams are cold given that the water releases come from the bottom of deep reservoirs. Trout, which favor cold water, were the natural replacement. Several of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's national fish hatcheries were created to meet the demand for trout fishing. Erwin National Fish Hatchery in Tennessee is a brood stock hatchery. It, along with Ennis and Saratoga national fish hatcheries in Montana and Wyoming, send live trout eggs to Greers Ferry (AR), Norfolk (AR), Dale Hollow (TN), Chattahoochee (GA), and Wolf Creek (KY) national fish hatcheries, where the trout are grown out to catchable sizes and stocked over 10 southeastern states.

The western U.S. doesn't have a lock on trout fishing. More and more trout fishers are realizing that trout fishing has become a part of the sporting life in the Southeast for trout fishers like this one (right). What's good for the soul - recharging your batteries with a solo or family trip - is good for southeastern cash registers. Think of it as a mutual fund with a high return for the American people. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates 70 National Fish Hatcheries, along with 64 Fishery Resources Offices, nine Fish Health Centers, and seven Fish Technology Centers across the country.

Thanks to Craig Springer (LEFT) for this elightening article. Craig Springer is a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southwest Region.

He covers 17 field stations that work with anything from paddlefish in the Mississippi to rare Apache trout in the Arizona high country. Springer can be reached at his office (505 248-6867).


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