Fishing jumps in popularity as pandemic continues, Arizona officials say

Posted at 6:16 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 15:52:25-04

More people may be getting hooked on a new hobby amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest available numbers from the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

Data shows the department saw nearly a 40% spike in fishing license sales when comparing June 2020 to June 2019. For the full fiscal year, which runs July through June, a spokesperson said AZGFD saw around a 17% increase in licenses.

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“You can definitely see it in the stores, when you go for fish bait … you can’t find nothing,” Mario Brandstaetter told ABC15 while fishing at Mesa Riverview Park, one of several community fishing locations throughout the Phoenix area.

According to AZGFD, 25,649 licenses were sold in June 2019 compared to 35,237 in June 2020.

“Most of the time you go to these lakes, there should be four of five [fisherman] during the week and, then, you would expect a hundred or so during the weekend,” said Andy Clark, the department’s sport fish program supervisor. “Now, it’s 50, 60, to 100 every day,” he said.

According to Clark, lakes near Flagstaff, Williams and the White Mountains are among the most popular for fishermen looking to catch various species of catfish, trout and bass.

He said he hopes “people realize the value of getting outside with your friends and family” long after the pandemic ends.