Steamboat outfitters work to attract trout fishermen |

Steamboat outfitters work to attract trout fishermen

National fishing economy is a $3.4-billion-a-year business

Zach Fridell

— If you're an angler in Colo­rado, the stats show that you are likely better educated and make more money than average. And of course, you always catch bigger fish.

According to a new study fr­­­­om the U.S. Fi­­­sh and Wild­life Ser­vice, 92 percent of fishers in Colorado are looking for trout, and fishers in Colorado spend an average of 10 days per year on the sport.

As Kerry Gillihan finished paying for his new gear Friday at Bucking Rainbow Outfitters downtown, he said that since he started trout fishing in 1975, he has taken two or three guided trips a year.

"I'll probably spend anywhere from $200 to $1,200 in gear and new stuff" each year, he said, not including the price of the guided trips.

Gillihan, from Lexington, Ky., said he typically fishes in the Great Smoky Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. He said this was his first trip to Colorado.

"I occasionally get out here and fish the West where the real trout are," he said.

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When it comes to numbers of trout anglers, Colorado lags behind only California and Pennsylvania in total number of fishers per year. According to the Fish and Wildlife study, with numbers from 2006, there were 608,000 trout anglers, and a total of 660,000 anglers overall, in Colorado that year. That equated to 5.2 million days of trout fishing in that year.

Bucking Rainbow fishing guide Colin Taylor said that's no surprise, as the fishing business has stayed strong despite the nationwide economic recession.

"Right now, we're on par for what we do every year," he said.

He said his company is actively advertising in the Front Range area to get anglers who might otherwise be tempted to take longer vacations. The company also recently opened another branch in One Steam­boat Place.

Overall, the trout anglers in the country spent $2.5 billion on trip-related expenses in 2006, along with $696 million on equipment expenses and $211 million on other equipment such as boots and waders.

Even though the overall number of trout anglers declined from 28.9 million in 1996 to 25 million in 2006, Taylor said his business still sees many of the same faces year after year.

"For sure, one of the things they keep coming is because they have such a great experience with big, healthy trout," Taylor said.