Record High Gas Prices Impact on Fishermen
By Greg McCain
Skyrocketing fuel costs impact various facets of life.
With prices for gas averaging almost $5 per gallon nationwide and diesel prices at least $1 more per gallon, the cost creeps into every fissure of daily life, some of them unforseen areas not considered by the average person.
Take fishermen, for example. While some might scoff at the idea, a certain segment of the fishing population suffers when costs rise. When they increase at a meteoric rate, the suffering compounds, especially for guides and tournament competitors. Even the average angler who fishes for fun feels the burn at the pumps.
A single stop for fuel to fill both boat and tow vehicle can easily surpass $200 in these unparalleled times.
So how do members of the ACC Crappie Stix pro staff, many of them guides and regular tournament participants, deal with and compensate for the increase in prices? A few claim not to have been affected greatly, but most relay ideas about how they have changed, ranging from adjusting their fishing habits to charging more for their services.
“The price of gas has me definitely looking at lakes closer to my camper,” said Minnesota guide Goose Gutzman (check out Goose’s Guide Service on his personal Facebook page). “I’ll be learning at least five new lakes within 20 miles from base camp to guide on and for meals of fish to eat.
“I definitely won’t be exploring a lot of new lakes this year, which I love to do, but one can’t afford it right now.”
Once on the water, Goose said he would continue a practice that has saved him fuel in the past. He strategically picks his launching spot and starts fishing close to the ramp, sometimes only using his trolling motor.
“I typically always start fishing closest to the landing every time I go out,” he said. “I don’t run and gun all over the lake no matter if the gas is high or low. I start close and work my way farther and farther, running my trolling motor and checking spots as I go.”
Louisiana YouTuber Charlie Burrow said he’s adjusting in many of the same ways as Goose.
“I won’t be making as many 150 mile round trips that I have grown accustomed to,” he said. “Fortunately, I have some very productive fisheries closer to home. They can stop us from fishing our favorite far-away lakes, but they can’t stop us from enjoying the sport we so dearly love.”
Other adjustments due to increased fuel costs include reduced practice time for tournament anglers. While many anglers are blessed with quality fisheries just down the road, that idea does not always apply to tournaments.
“We’re certainly not able to practice as much as we would like,” said Florida tournament competitor Nick Whitten. “Typically, we would fish three weekends leading up to a local tournament. Average travel for us ‘local’ is a 200-mile round trip.
“Now we’re cutting back to only practicing the Saturday before and trying to practice the day before the tournament. What’s really going to be tough is the out-of-state deals coming from Florida. The closest major event other than St. John’s is Grenada, which is 750 miles one way!”
Tennessee YouTuber, guide, and tournament angler Matt Xenos (Wired for Crappie on YouTube) adds another perspective to the fuel dilemma associated with competition. He wears dual hats as a tournament director, and he said some anglers are choosing to opt out.
“I have been worried for years that the average “Joe” crappie angler is being priced out of crappie fishing,” Matt said. “Lots of guys certainly have been priced out of competitive crappie fishing. I have seen a lot of good anglers leave trails due to the ever-evolving cost of electronics needed to be consistently competitive.
“I know that with the increased fuel costs I have seen a LARGE increase of anglers unregister from upcoming tournaments I am directing. The reason they give is cost of travel, i.e. fuel! The longer it stays high, the more strain it causes and the more guys we will see drop out to save money.”
A main concession for guides is raising trip prices. Almost to a man, they voice their displeasure in having to do so, but the times demand more compensation for their services.
“I did raise my prices this year slightly,” said Mississippi guide Tim Howell (Longbranch Guide Service, call or text 662.251.5625), “not only just for gas prices but for overall inflation in general. I haven’t seen it affect my business as of yet, but I would think at some point it has to. I only raised prices $50 per person.
“So far this year I’ve been very fortunate enough that I’ve been able to catch the fish I need on a daily basis on my home lake, so I haven’t had to travel to other lakes.”
Added Illinois guide Fred Mooney (Full Moon Fishing Service, 618.731.1601), “I raised guide trip prices July of 2021 when the inflation started having an impact . Now I’m definitely less apt to drive to the other lakes and very conscious of using the ramps closest to my destination.
“However, so far I can’t tell any impact or reduction of bookings. Fall will tell the true story, I’m sure.”
Florida guide Brad Gibson (G3 Outfitters Guide Brad Gibson on Facebook) echoed those sentiments, saying he has experienced “zero complaints” so far, even though he did have to up his prices.
Goose said he has not been as lucky and has experienced a reduction in repeat trips by customers.
“I noticed my clients aren’t booking extra trips so far this year compared to the past, so the high price of everything is taking a toll in many ways,” he said.
A few other pro staffers have made adjustments to their travel and guide trip routines and also take advantage of cheaper fuel when it’s available. Even in Canada, Yan Rochon (see reports, photos, and videos about Canadian fishing on his Facebook page) feels the impact of rising fuel costs, and he has adjusted accordingly.
“One of my fishing spots is located two hours away from home,” he said, “yet I maximize my time there by staying a few nights at the lake at the cottage or camping, which I really like.
“I bring a few crappies back with me and cook a few meals, saving more money that way by cutting down the grocery bill.
“Also for me, I live on the border of Quebec and Ontario. Gas is cheaper in Ontario, and I save $80 every month filling up in Ontario.”
Not everyone has changed greatly although most acknowledge at least a few concessions to the higher prices.
“I have not changed anything when it comes to guide trips,” said Louisiana pro staffer Keith Acker (see Keith’s trip reports on his personal Facebook page). “My clients understand the added expense on me and have been generous when it comes to tips.
“I do not do as much scouting or fun fishing on my days off because of the increase in gas prices.”
Texas pro staffer Caleb Hensley, who creates much of his 903 Fishing YouTube content in the summer months, said his summer plans have definitely changed because of the increased fuel cost.
“My plans of fishing many body of waters around me this summer (because I am a teacher) has changed,” Caleb said. “The high cost of fuel will more than likely not allow me to travel like I had hoped. It’s unfortunate, but I will try to do the best I can for my YouTube audience to get to new bodies of water.”
Charlie (follow his GO FISH with Charlie Burrow videos on YouTube) always brings a humorous element to any discussion. About the rising fuel prices, he quips that he is “thinking it will be cheaper to dig a pond in my backyard” and later adds, “I really prefer fishing alone, but I may start bringing a friend to split the gas with.”