Last weekend, the lowland lakes trout season opened up in Washington State.  Surprisingly, many states “back east” (like Pennsylvania, for example) have already been open a while.

The story in Washington State (at least in local fishing lore) is that the reason for the late opener is that if fishing opens before Easter, then church attendance is lower.  Not sure if that makes Pennsylvanians heathens, or not…

The point this morning is there is only a passing correlation between the amount of money invested in any sport versus the real and imagined return on investment.

Just Monday, I when I was up at the local aerodrome dropping of the Major after a week of adventures around here, I couldn’t help but notice the most beautiful, camo’ed out, ultra-high performance bass boat on display.

Then I noticed the price.  There are not enough bass west of the Mississippi to make the numbers pencil out; grand a boat as it was, and almost suitable for drag boat hole shoot-outs, the number of fish available in a given season would pencil out north of $100 per pound to amortize the fishing rig out over 10-years.

A typical bass boat, at least around here in East Texas, will run (new) anywhere from $15-$25,000.  Higher if you deck out with additional canvas and a jet-drive lower end.

The Texas Parks and Wild Life crew has been sampling largemouth taken in Texas (they don’t count the politicians, apparently) and the longest then came up with was something about 29 inches in length.  See the table over here.

We’ll be very generous and pencil out that a 30-inch bass will run 18-pounds, or so.  But, the only way mere mortals like us will find that will be either by quitting work (after robbing a few banks on the way out) and fishing full-time, or by hiring a guide.

Most of the bass I’ve seen or heard tell-of run more 18-inches – or less.

Fish Math

Let’s be generous, though, and say we can catch one solid 18-inch bass per angler in the new $25-thousand dollar floating fish/pimp mobile.  Remember, we have to figure out the cost of the fish against $2,500 per year of amortization costs.

Sure, sure, some people will argue that if you “take your buddy” with you, it lowers the figures I’m about to shock you with.  But, in reality, I’ve never seen it work out.

Consider the costs of your “fishing buddy.”  Here’s the economics you can expect:

  • Your pal may decided to “go halvsies” on the fuel bill.  Figure $20 bucks for gas, so there’s $10 bucks they bring to the boat.
  • However, your pal will usually expect you to supply the sandwiches and beer.  $10-bucks is maybe a washout.  More likely?  You’re “upside down” by now.
  • Any “meat fish” boarded?  You “pal” is likely to tell you some idiotic excuse like “I’d give you this one, but I promised my wife a fish-fry if she’d let me go fishing instead of mowing and trimming up the yard…”

As a result,  other than the odd fishing companion who s a licensed social worker (the Major happens to be one, but we fish antennas, not bass), will not solve any of the problems you have in life.  Although a non-stop stream of bawdy male humor does have some value when the political-correctness crowd is watching Beat the Press instead of going fishing where they could return to the real world.

What is a fish worth?

Using the Texas Wild Life numbers, let’s imagine that an 18″ large mouth (which will provide 5-minutes, or less, of “reel entertainment) to product produce 3.31 pounds fully clothed animal.

By the time you get it fileted-out, what’s left?  I reckon a pound, or so.

So let’s begin with a quick penciling out of the cost of such delectable seafood:

  • We have to amortize $2,500 of boat cost per year.
  • There will be at least one “mechanical” per year.  Just like airplanes have a slush fund to keep them flying, a bass boat will need $50 bucks a trip set aside.  For when you grind down that stainless prop on a deadhead under water, or when you rip the fish-finder sensor of the bottom.  Or, the speedo breaks.  Or, you want to put in thin-wire plugs for better “out of the hole performance.  Come to think of it, how about $100-bucks per outing?  Probably more real.
  • Subscriptions to Bass Nation, Bass Times, and $20 per outing in lost lure costs.
  • Need to put another $20 a trip in the licenses and trailer tags – and oh, all that crap from fishing stores…

OK, let’s see how it looks, shall we?

cost of fish per pound

What we find is that there is a “sweet spot” around 10 trips, or so.  Reason being that we are increasingly likely to break something’d the more we’re out fishing.

This is not a complete view.  There are lots of ways it could work out better.  Beginning with a homemade boat and a tiny “nut” to amortize.  Still, if you like to “do it in style” this is the bad news.

For our money, there are lots of easier ways to fish.  An occasional dry iced shipment of halibut cheeks and fresh Dungeness crab from Pike Place Fish in Seattle, being one.  The cost per pound is less than the best case for bass, and I prefer halibut and crab, thank you.  No tags, inspections, licenses, or sweltering on a hot day while trying not to get too drunk to drag a boat out back at the launching ramp.

All of which has what to do with prepping?


Get yourself down to Walmart.  Buy some kind of cheap fishing rig ($60 bucks tops) and walk around lakes— quietly.

See what you catch that way.  This is ONE occasion when camo makes sense…if you have your Polaroid’s on so you can see down into the water.

Of course, in Texas, such antics can also land you eye to eye with a cottonmouth (water moccasin) but if you’re into prepping on the fly, this is much closer to reality of the “one second after” world.

Not to be confused with Tim Gonzales’ mix of peach schnapps, Crown, sweet & sour, with a float of triple sec,  there are sites around the web where you can find how to cook up a cottonmouth.

Easier is to find some people with a dock on one of the many bays on typical southern lakes and knock on the door and ask “Can I rent a fishing spot on your boat dock for an hour, or so?

This approach may get you a m ore comfortable place to fish (shady side of the lake is best in terms of comfort) and if get lucky, you can get to know some people along the lake.

Out bottom line:  With environmental depletion, unless you are into aqua-culture, fishing is just one inefficient use of diminishing petroleum reserves.

Already a boat owner?  If TSHTF while you’re out on the lake, you’re an easy target than will float to the less shore in due time.  Might want to keep that in mind.  In our serious sailing boat days, we had a night time escape route with a minimum one mile from shore (*where possible) exit plan; the separation zone for the Vessel Traffic Systems is (like old rail rights of way) a fine thing to remember come troubled times. And salt water fish are typically bigger, anyway.  And more BTU’s in diesel fuel…

Write when you catch bass…or call May Day…