About the Author:
John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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December 29, 2008

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Merwin: Boating Blues

While our crippled economy is making headlines every day, its painful effects on field sports do not. They should, though, and the current state of the boating industry is a good example.
         
Those same boats we as fishermen depend on are generally viewed as expensive luxury items. A fairly simple walleye boat with a 75-horsepower outboard, for example, runs $10,000 to $20,000 or more now when new. Major-brand center consoles in the 20- to 22-foot range are hitting $75,000 or so fully rigged. And when a high-end freshwater-bass boat tops $50,000 then I'm really scratching my head in wonder.
         
Afford them or not, many people were buying such things until the recent credit crunch put the boating industry into a dramatic downward spiral. Home-equity, once often used for boat-buying, has evaporated. Major companies such as GE Capital that financed boat-dealer inventories, meanwhile, are rapidly pulling back.
         
As an angler, I don't think a boat is a luxury. But at the same time I don't think this is the year when I'll be trading in my fully-paid-for skiff for a newer model. As a matter of fact, maybe I'll look for a new pair of waders instead. Waders get really good gas mileage, too....

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jack

I have a 1 manpower jon boat that could use an oar upgrade. Yet, the better part of frugality requires me to sand and varnish the current power plant. I should also keep an eye peeled for a partly used can of olive drab at barn sales.

How do I assuage the guilt for my inability to spur the marine economy?

Jeremy

I'm working with Popular Science, and I was wondering if I could get your opinion regarding a new type of fishing lure that I'm vetting for the magazine. I've included my e-mail (not displayed).

Hope you're having a restful holiday, economic woes aside.

John Merwin

Jack:
A new set of oarlocks, maybe? That just comes to mind because I need some....

Jeremy:
You can reach me at merwin.fands@gmail.com





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