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Anglers Use Tackle Loan Programs as Bait

October 11, 1996

Anglers believe that fishing is America’s salvation, and they want to loan you a rod and reel to prove it.

Survey and poll work by the Sportfishing Promotion Council has found that while fishing participation is flat, anglers are far less likely to get divorced than the national average, and young fishermen are less likely to get in trouble. Anglers also are more involved in protecting resources.

To encourage more participation in the sport, the SPC has expanded a fishing tackle loaner program, run through libraries, municipal recreation departments and sporting goods stores.

In a Utah loaner program, tackle was loaned out over 600 times at each of six locations in the greater Salt Lake area last year. A survey showed that 43 percent of those borrowing tackle had never fished before, and approximately half of those said they were going to buy fishing tackle equipment and fish again.

``This program has the potential to have the greatest impact on fishing since God invented water,″ said Joe Kuti, manager of the SPC and vice president of the American Sportfishing Association, a group that represents tackle and boat makers, fishery agencies and recreation interests.

Kuti wants to expand the loaner program past the 140 sites in 21 states already on line for this year. There are over 22,000 public libraries and parks and recreation centers nationwide that could be loaning out fishing tackle. He’s also eyeing sporting goods stores and on-water marinas.

``Even if we could just get 10 percent of those places, it would have a significant impact on the number of anglers entering the sport,″ Kuti said.

Each new angler is a windfall for the fishing industry and for state and federal fishery programs, which generate revenues through fishing license sales and excise taxes on fishing tackle.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, each angler spends approximately $105 annually just on fishing tackle. The current loaner program will create some $2.1 million in new tackle sales in 1996, according to projections.

The SPC started the tackle loaner program three years ago in Kent, Ohio, running it through a local library. Tackle was checked out just like books, and local anglers volunteered to maintain the gear.

``The librarian said the fishing tackle continues to be the most popular and successful loaner program that is not strictly a reading program,″ said Dick Kotis, a former tackle company president who worked with the SPC to establish the pilot program.

Encouraged by its popularity, the SPC began enlisting support nationwide.

``The neat part of (establishing this program) is you can’t say `no.′ You ask somebody if they’d like to help a kid go fishing _ are they going to say `no’? It is an easy program to get started,″ said Brian Allen of the San Jose Rotary Club in California.

Allen’s loaner program began last May and is a cooperative effort among Rotary, the California Department of Fish and Game, a local fishing club and a local sporting goods outlet.

``Senior citizens and single parents living on a limited income have stressed how wonderfully the program has benefited them,″ said Keith Kargel, interpretive coordinator for South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, which had loaner rods and reels through the SPC at four parks last year.

``Most of the loans are to parents and their children who seem surprised and pleased that this is being done at no charge.″

Steve Gottshall, the state coordinator for the SPC, said that’s just the kind of feedback he likes to hear.

``I think it will increase license sales, increase funding to agencies through excise taxes on tackle sales, and it will have a positive impact on the community,″ he said.

``Fishing helps build family values. Oh man, I hate to use that phrase, but it’s true. Fishing is just such a positive family activity, regardless of the makeup of the family.″

End advance for Oct. 12-13

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