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High gas prices will have major impact on recreation

April 30, 2006|By TIM KOELBLE

The very high gas prices we are all complaining about affect us in many ways. This week, I made some phone calls and sent some e-mails to industry contacts to see just how badly it might impact our recreation in 2006.

It's not a pretty picture.

The first things that occurred to me were activities that always use a lot of fuel to get to the action. Boating immediately comes to mind. One of the best examples is saltwater fishing where the runs can be long.

For years, several friends and I have booked a late summer tuna chunking trip out of Ocean City, Md. The run from the inlet to the tuna fishing grounds in the gulf stream is usually four hours or more each way. The big sportfishers, usually powered by twin diesels, use a lot of fuel and the price of the charter has been creeping up over the past three years. This year, creeping would not be the word to describe the potential price change.

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Last summer, the charter with one of our favorite captains was $1,200 plus tips for the mate. When I talked to the captain last week, we said that if he does tuna charters at current fuel prices, he would probably have to charge $1,700-$1,800 for the charter. He wonders if many fishermen will be willing to pay this much more. I know one client he can count out due to a 50-percent rate increase.

A friend who annually makes a spring trip to a big bear hunting operation in Canada told a similar story. His outfitter uses 4-wheelers and boats to keep dozens of stands freshly baited. My friend said that the outfitter recently sent out a letter that stated rising fuel costs made it necessary for him to add a $200 fuel surcharge to the cost of the hunt - even though most had already booked the hunts at a set price. The outfitter apologized and offered to immediately return deposits if clients did not wish to pay the surcharge. Most hunters apparently understand the situation and were willing to pay the extra cost.

The rising fuel prices will affect all aspects of everyone's life and outdoors recreation will not be exempt. The guys that run big bass boats know that you can easily use 100 gallons of fuel during a weekend tournament. The families who pull big campers know that the cost of getting their rig to the campsite just went from expensive to maybe prohibitive.

Fuel efficiency and recreational activities do not usually show up on the same paragraph. If gas prices continues to rise, that will change.




Tim Koelble's Divots column appears on Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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