Dave Richey holds up a nice mint-silver steelhead
|Knee-deep in a spring steel run may be replaced by knee-deep in too costly fuel prices to even get there.|
And just think, they feel proud of their accomplishment. And they probably wonder why everyone is ornery with them.
We had to go to a downstate funeral last weekend, and I got to chatting with one of the people at the funeral home. They told me that spring fishing trips were no longer being factored into their budget. They said they no longer could afford to drive north to fish for steelhead.
I'm not seeing the heavy steelhead pressure of the pastAnother person told me that although he drew a tag for the first turkey season for Area K, he wouldn't be hunting this spring. He also said that money was tight, fear of layoffs at Ford and General Motor, and a lack of money would keep him near home.
Frankly, where I live at Traverse City, people are accustomed to the local gas stations raising prices Thursday afternoon, and dropping them slightly on Monday morning. They try to tell us that demand dictates the price, and to a point that is true.
However, gas stations have known for years that more people fill up prior to the weekends. So ... the fuel prices get cranked up.
I read somewhere that Michigan tourism wants to get more people traveling around the state. Good luck on that one, because many folks are having a tough time just buying enough gas to drive to work.
Sure, people can car pool but most don't want to. There may come a day when people will be forced into carpooling whether they want to or not. We, as a nation, have become so dependent on low-priced fuel that we've been spoiled.
So what happens? Big Oil figures it out, and starts jockeying prices, and what happens, they have record profits in 2005. Does anyone need a road map to figure out how those profits came to be?
Massive profits only help Big Oil get bigger and richerMany local fuel company owners claim they do not manipulate the prices, but any second-grader could figure out why they raise prices on weekends. I'm not a big fan in trying to get people to do things, but ...
I've often wondered what would happen -- if anything -- if everyone took a week vacation and stayed home. No trips to town, the bowling alley or onto Lake Michigan to fish. How much impact would that have on local oil companies? Would it get their attention?
We all know the oil companies could ride that out, and could probably ride out a month-long boycott, but somehow, some way, this business of high-priced gas gouging must end.
The automakers are working on cars that will run on alternate fuel. Is anyone naive enough to believe that this alternate fuel will become just as expensive as fossil fuel?
And then, one trip into downtown Traverse City, and we'll see foolish drivers going 15 miles per hour over the legal speed limit. They weave in and out of traffic, and crowd up on the next car's back bumper, goose it hard to get around, and then sits idling at the stop light.
The roadways are filled with high speeding motoristsThey've gained nothing but have wasted enough fuel to ruin any chance for better gas mileage. So I ask: Are gas prices affecting sportsmen?
Absolutely. The spring steelhead run seems to be sputtering along but the number of anglers are down. I don't see as many people trolling the harbors for spring brown trout.
Let's face it. An angler that lives downstate, and wants to drive anywhere up north on Friday night, fish hard on Saturday and Sunday, and drive home Sunday night, will probably spend $60 to 100 on fuel. Add meals and perhaps lodging, and it will cost them a minimum of $200 for a weekend.
If I were working at Ford, General Motors or any of their parts suppliers, I'd think twice about making the trip. I talked last week to a guy that wanted to drive up to fish steelhead, but changed his mind and fished a nearby river for suckers. He caught some fish, they put a bend in his rod, and he had fun. His total expense was 10 bucks.
Anglers and hunters, if the fuel costs continue to soar so greedy gas companies can make greater profits, they may soon learn that doing things closer to home will be their thing this summer. And, Michigan tourism, bless their souls, may find fewer and fewer people making the trek up to the north country.
And they don't have to look any farther for someone to blame than the national and neighborhood gasoline companies.