REGINA -- Spring fishing is right around the corner and many of you are itching to get out on the water. CTV viewer Regan is among them. He spent a lot of time on the ice this winter trying to reel in the big one. He was #JustCurious if more fishing licenses were sold this year than in previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says it sure seemed like there were more anglers out there and felt the fishing was slower than usual this time around. Maybe you agree? Maybe it was just his spot.

The Ministry of Environment says overall sales of licenses are in fact up. But here’s where it gets interesting. The Ministry says there was a drastic reduction in non-resident sales. That makes sense, right? Most public health measures kept those in other provinces – and countries – from hitting up Saskatchewan’s lakes and rivers. The past couple of years have seen 183,000 fishermen and women purchasing licenses, according to the Ministry of Environment.

In 2020-2021, 188,000 licenses were sold. It’s a small increase of about five thousand but remember, Saskatchewan people filled the gap left by those who weren’t able to come here to fish. So, there’s a greater chance you’d see your neighbor on the water than a person from Manitoba or Montana.

There’s one more thing to consider when talking numbers and that is the people who can fish but don’t require a license. If you’re under the age of 16 in this province, you don’t require a license. If you’re over the age of 65, also free. Those who are excercising their Aboriginal or Treaty rights to harvest fish for food are also exempt. All of those groups still need to follow all of the rules set out by Saskatchewan fishing and gaming. The Ministry of Environment doesn’t track those numbers.

Where does the revenue from fishing licenses to?

The Ministry of Environment explained that 30 per cent of revenue goes into the fish and wildlife development fund. That funding is used to advance fisheries enhancement projects and support programs and maintenance at the Sasaktchewan Fish Hatchery so that your favorite fishing hole is well-stocked. They also use that money to fight off aquatic invasive species.

The remaining 70 per cent of money taken in goes into the province’s general revenue fund.

Good luck out on the water (or ice)!