fishing

opportunities


and

per


capita

consumption

of


fisheries


products


have

led


to


rapid


expansion

and
development

in


this

market.


A

major


benefit


is


the


premium


price

paid


for


fish.


The


price

per


pound


may


be

as
much

as

double


that


paid


by

large


processing


plants.
The

initial


step


in


establishing


a

fee


fishing


operation

is


determining


what


the


customer

wants.


Fishermen’s
preferences

vary


from

one

geographic


area


to


another.


This


determination

should


include

not


only


the


species
and
size


of


fish

to


use,


but


also


conveniences

such

as

concessions,


bait,


tackle,


restrooms,


shaded


areas,
benches,
etc.
Additionally,

the


potential


fee


fishing


operator


must


determine


where,


how


and

when


to


sell.


Location


is


an
important

consideration


in


determining


if

fee


fishing


is


a

viable

marketing


alternative.


Ideally,


fee


fishing


ponds
should

be

easily

accessible

from

a

heavily

traveled

road


near


an

urban

center.

Fee


fishing


customers
appreciate
convenient


parking


areas


and

easy

access

to


ponds.


The


site

should


be

identified


with


large


signs
on
the


nearest


major


road,


and

additional


signs


on

secondary

roads.


Most


fee


fishing


operations

depend


on
word-
of

-

mouth


advertising


to


attract


customers.


It

is


essential


that


potential


customers

be

able


to


locate

the
fee

fishing


operation.
Holding

tank


and

business


area


for


fee


fishing


operator:

-


Most


fee


fishing


operators


sell


fish

by

the


pound.
This

requires

someone

to


be

present


to


weigh

the


fish

and

collect


money


the


entire


time


the


facility


is


open


for
fishing.

Thus,


labor


costs


are


an

important


consideration.


The


expected

volume


of


sales


has

to


justify

high
labor

costs.


Some

operators


charge

only


an

entrance


fee


and

customers

are


allowed


an

unlimited


catch.


This
option

involves

less


labor,


but


managing


the


fish

population

is


difficult


without


detailed


knowledge


of


what


is
being

taken


out


of


the


pond.


A

combination


of


entrance


fee


and

per


weight


charge

beyond


a
specific
poundage

is


another


option.
Fee

fishing


ponds


are


usually

operated


seasonally.


Most


operations

are


open


daily

from

early

morning

until
dark

during


spring,


summer,


and

fall.

Many


operators


reduce

hours


or


days

of


operation

during


colder


months.
Hours
should


be

specific


and

clearly


stated


on

signs


and

in


advertisements,

and

posted


in


a

conspicuous
location

at


the


facility.

Family


Operations
Pay

lake


operations

tend


to


be

family

operated


and

provide


supplemental


rather

than


primary


income.


Many
pay
lakes


are


part


of


diversified


farm

operations.


Few


pay

lake


operators


have

formal


training


in


aquaculture
or

business.


Consequently,


many


pay

lakes


are


managed

inefficiently.


Few


operators


keep

accurate


records
of

costs


or


income.


Keeping

accurate


records


of


stocking

densities,


time


of


stocking,


catch


rates


and

customer
needs

would

give


the


novice


operator


a

definite


marketing


advantage

over


most


established

operations.
Marketing

through


fee


fishing


requires

a

willingness


to


deal


with


the


public

and

to


work

long


hours,


often
seven
days

a

week.


Considerable


management


ability

is


required

to


provide


maximum


returns.


The


primary
advantage
is


the


premium


price

received


by

the


operator.


Channel


Catfish

Popular
Many

species


of


fish

are


marketed

through


fee


fishing;


however,

the


channel


catfish


is


by

far


the


most
popular.

Channel


catfish


are


usually

available


throughout


the


year,


can

be

purchased

at


desirable

sizes,

are
easily
caught,


and

do

not


reproduce


in


open


ponds


that


do

not


have

holes


or


cavities.


The


size


of


fish
commonly
stocked


varies

from

about


1

to


6

pounds.

Some

pay

lake


operators


like


to


have

a

variety


of


sizes


in
the

pond,


while


others


prefer

consistently


small


or


large


fish.


Discussions


with


existing


pay

lake


operators


in
the

area


will


provide


insight


into

local

customer

preferences.