Texas Economy Contributes to Great Fishing

Everett Johnson
Tune to any news channel and if you are not greeted by some report or comment concerning the U.S. economy the topic will likely pop within a few minutes. That the national economy continues to sag and some regions of the country are just flat caught between a rock and an economic hard place is no secret. Political pundits and pollsters are already betting the 2012 elections will hinge on the economy more than any other issue.

Here in Texas, hubris aside, things truly are bigger and better and our state economy is definitely one of them. A recent Wall Street Journal survey of private sector job creation (since the recession supposedly ended in June 2009) cited Texas as being so far ahead of the rest of the nation that only two states can even sniff of our trail. Texas, the report said, has created 265,000 jobs. New York is second with 98,000 and Pennsylvania trails at 93,000. The other forty-seven have contributed a combined total of 266,000. Obviously, job creation is not the full measure of the economy but it is a very powerful one and Texas (no surprise to us) is leading the nation. Back to that hubris thing - It ain't bragging if you can back it up.

So how does all this economy stuff relate to fishing? If you boil it all down it means Texas saltwater anglers can afford to fish more days than their counterparts in other coastal states. It also means saltwater license sales should be pretty strong this year, which in turn means TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division (license dollars are the sole funding source) will be able to continue their outstanding work in managing in our fisheries. So a strong economy is good for fishing in more ways than you might think.

Take for example this recent Fourth of July weekend. Coastal communities were jam-packed. I never saw so many people in Matagorda, Port O'Connor and Rockport where I had occasion to visit. These people came with money in their pockets and pumped it into the local economies.

By contrast, Pam and I recently made a trip through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and there was no bloom in evidence. In fact, a great portion of the tourism and recreational fishing-related infrastructure has yet to be built since 2005 when Rita and Katrina devastated the coasts there. Throw in the economic blow Deepwater Horizon dealt the recreational fishing industry in those states and the picture is bleak.

No doubt we all tend to gripe when three boats beat us to our favorite fishing holes but we shouldn't dwell on this as a total negative. Our Texas coastal economy may not be on the blistering roll we saw in 2008 before the economy hit the skids, but the things we need when we go fishing are readily available, i.e. marinas, motels, tackle and bait shops, restaurants, boat repair services, etc.

So for all that we enjoy, especially discretionary income and excellent fishing, I say Texans are blessed.