Fishing licenses may promote lake tourism

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas had fishy things on his mind on Wednesday. He traveled to the shores of Lake Champlain to sign a bill that allows anglers to use a fishing license from their home states to fish both sides of the big lake. The governor says the reciprocal license law will boost the local tourist economy.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The deepest water of Lake Champlain marks the line that divides New York and Vermont. Because it’s impossible to tell where that line is from the surface, anglers who’ve wanted to fish all of the big lake have been forced to buy a license from both states.

That won’t be necessary next year, under a bill signed into law by Governor Jim Douglas. The governor says the lake attracts millions of visitors a year.

(Douglas) “We’ll welcome New York anglers to our waters, our shores, and I might add to the businesses to this side of the lake, where we hope and expect that they’ll contribute meaningfully to our economy. So it’s really a win-win event and situation for both states. We think the economic benefits will be tremendous.”

(Dillon) Charter boat captain Richard Greenough says the bill-signing caps a long effort to win reciprocal fishing privileges on both sides of the lake.

(Greenough) “It helps the little guy. There’s been so much friction in the southern end of the lake, where you could be sitting in the same boat as I am, a little row boat, and you’d need a New York license and I’d need a Vermont license. It’s kind of a no-brainer. The fish don’t know where the line is, and don’t care.”

(Dillon) Like Douglas, Greenough sees an economic advantage to the new law.

(Greenough) “If you were coming here from Massachusetts or Connecticut or something, and if you found out if you got a Vermont license you could finsh anywhere, where you gonna stay? There’s rooms and meals, sales tax. It’s a darn good marketing tool.”

(Dillon) Greenough says two-thirds of the main lake is within New York waters. The reciprocal license will apply to all of the lake, with the exception of the inland sea, Missisquoi Bay and Mallet’s Bay.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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