anglers on lake erie

Assessing the Economic Impact & Significance of Recreational
Angling on Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Waters:
A $40 Million Annual Economic Input

Recent research findings show that angling related activities within the PA Lake Erie watershed significantly support the economy in the Erie region, to the tune of nearly $41 million. The research was conducted from 2016-2017 by Dr. Alan Graefe and Dr. Andrew Mowen, of Penn State University, and Dr. Mike Ferguson, from the University of New Hampshire, with funding from the Pennsylvania Sea Grant College Program.

The overarching goal of the study was to assess the economic impact and significance of the recreational angling industry within the 76.6 mile Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie. This study looked at shore angling, boat angling, and special event angling such as angler tournaments.

Graefe, Mowen, and Ferguson gathered angler input through online and mail back surveys (1,189 completed), and on-location surveys and in-person interviews (516 completed).

Their findings, reported in “Assessing the Economic Impact & Significance of Recreational Angling on Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Waters: A $40 Million Annual Economic Input,” offer a snapshot of socio-demographic characteristics, trip visitation patterns, experience preferences, level of satisfaction, levels of experience, resource attachment, and economic expenditures. Study results suggest that the economic contributions to the region are considerable.

Collectively, the information in this report should help give managers and stakeholders further insights that will aid in the sustained health and quality of Lake Erie.

A few key observations:

  • Pennsylvania Lake Erie angling supports approximately 539 jobs within Erie County and provides more than $13 million in income for Erie County residents.
  • Anglers visiting the region reported spending $503 on expenditures such as overnight lodging and accommodations, gas, and food and drinks at restaurants and bars.
  • Erie-based anglers spent an average of $459 on expenditures such as groceries, gas, groceries, fishing rods, reels, and other fishing equipment.
  • Approximately 74 percent of respondents live in Pennsylvania, but report traveling an average of 103 miles to their fishing destination.
  • Approximately 78 percent of the anglers polled indicated that they had a strong connection to the region and that it meant a lot to them.
  • Anglers identified a variety of reasons and motivations for visiting the Pennsylvania section of Lake Erie, including: to be outdoors, to experience natural surroundings, to be close to nature, to get away from the regular routine, for relaxation, and to do things with companions.
  • More than 40 percent of anglers reported fishing from a private boat, with 39 percent fishing from the shoreline.
  • Twenty-seven percent of anglers reported Steelhead as the most sought after catch, closely followed by Walleye at 26 percent, Yellow Perch, 18 percent, Smallmouth Bass at 11 percent, followed by Largemouth Bass, Brown Trout Crappie, Muskellunge, and Bluegill/Sunfish.

Access more details, the report, and fact sheet
Access the latest “Connect with Your Environment” newspaper feature story highlighting the research and report.


Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011