Are Fly Fishermen Chronically Underappreciated By Rural Tourism Businesses?
Last weekend I served as ride director for the Mt. Shasta Summit Century, a one-day supported bike ride, the 139 mile incarnation of which climbs four local mountains for a leg-sapping 16,500′ of vertical climbing (to clarify, our riders are pedaling about three miles straight up).
It’s a truckload of work to organize (I’m more tired the day after organizing it than I ever was when I rode it), and it raises $19K-$20K annually for under-funded local youth sports like the high school’s x-country team, track team and others.
In essence, we turn lightly traveled rural roads into cash for kids and local businesses, and even a clueless businessperson couldn’t miss the fact that for one weekend, the town’s jammed with expensive cars wearing $7,000 bikes (and you thought fly fishing was expensive).
Fly fishermen aren’t so lucky; outside of publicly wearing waders, we’re not so easily identified by business owners. We don’t routinely gather in large, obvious groups, and we’re rarely seen roadside in brightly colored spandex (for that, I’m grateful).
Mostly we’re up early and out on the river, eventually sneaking back into town under cover of darkness.
Simply put, we’re largely invisible. As a result, I’d suggest fly fishing’s economic impact is under-perceived by local business owners, especially in rural areas.
(The battle over Dunsmuir’s Big Fish program suggests this is more than a theory.)
Years ago Chris Raine suggested fly fishermen write “These dollars brought to you by fly fishing” on all their paper money before spending it, which feels satisfyingly subversive.
But it’s probably not enough.
So what can fly fishermen do to raise their economic profile in rural destinations (granting us the leverage to make changes that work for us)?
Loudly repeating “Wow — can you believe all the fishermen in town and on the river these days?” probably won’t work. And you’ll eventually feel like kind of a jerk.
What else have we got?
“My dollars are now your dollars because of the fish in the river” t-shirts?
Magnetic “Fly Fisherman On Board” signs for your truck?
A “I paid $750 for my fly rod, imagine what I’m spending in your town” bumper stickers?
Any good ideas from the Undergrounders?
See you working on that rural economy, Tom Chandler.