Fishing remains one of the top recreational pastimes in the United States. Many anglers are looking for fishing opportunities outside of the over-utilized public waters. Fee-fishing, in which anglers pay to catch fish in privately owned ponds, can offer quality fishing experiences to users while also providing landowners with an additional source of revenue.
Fee-fishing operations offer everything from pay-by-the-pound fishing to long-term leases. Medium to large ponds are best suited for long-term leases and smaller ponds can be day-leased or used as a fish out, or pay-by-the-pound operations. Fee-fishing operation owners must act as fisheries managers by maintaining high-density, suitable fish populations and also be able to function as a business managers, working closely with clientele. Successful operations stock attractive fish populations and provide clients with scenic, natural setting to enjoy.
Generally, landowners find that word of mouth serves as the best means of advertising their fishing opportunities. Providing special amenities such as boats, fishing tackle, food, picnic areas and guide services can also help make fee-fishing businesses more attractive to anglers and their families.
Landowner Involvement and Attitudes: Fee Access Wildlife and Fisheries Recreation (PDF)
Mississippi State University, FWRC Research Bulletin, 2007
This extensive publication provides information on property characteristics, landowner enterprises, business characteristics of fee-access recreation, socioeconomic characteristics of hunters/fishers, and more.
Fee Fishing: Introduction and Marketing (PDF)
This paper, presented at the 1996 Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialists Conference, discusses the ingredients essential to a successful fee-fishing business.
Fee Fishing Considerations (PDF)
Clemson University Extension
Before you begin a fee-fishing enterprise, consideration must be given to how you well your operation can be run and how successful it can be. Some of the things to consider include the expectations of your clientele, the location of your pond, how you will manage your pond, amenities such as parking lots and rest rooms, and promoting your business.