Often lake owners prefer an annual fishing lease – similar to an annual hunting lease where a select group or single angler leases a lake(s) exclusively per year or for a period of years. For the landowner, this model provides greater security as he/she over time, will get to know the anglers and learn their use and care of the property and fishery; however this “yearly lease model” is typically the least profitable of the two.. The fee for such a lease is generally established based on the quality (actively managed or not) of the fishery, size of the fishery itself, and any amenities that may come with it such as housing, camping site, use of on-site-boat, etc.
The second model is termed a “pay by the day” or weekend lease which often requires more administrative work but is generally much more profitable. In this situation, the fisherman/men pays a fee for the right to fish the lake(s) for one or two days at a time. In this case, a landowner may “check in” new fisherman to the lake every 5 to 7 days. In this case, the per day fees are generally representative of the quality of the fishery…a managed fishery creates better fish and demands a higher price as does additional amenities such as those mentioned above.
In a fishing lease, size does matter in regards to the acreage of the lake(s) and size of the fish, therefore large and/or multiple lake(s) managed for quality fish will demand a higher fee than say a typical farm pond that is leased annually for “fun” fishing opportunities. As mentioned prior, to demand higher fees, quality accommodations are just as important as the fishery itself. In general, private lake owners turning the highest profits are providing properly equipped boats, high quality fishing gear, guides, overnight lodging and meals. In essence, when we talk about the premier fishing lease operations nationally and pricing they take into consideration the whole experience that can be offered to fishermen and women.
The benefits of a fishing lease for lake owners in many cases goes beyond the immediate cash payback, as anglers are required to cull select size fish to help improve the fishery overtime. They also require anglers to record select data of their catches such as weight, length, lure type, time of catch, etc. which are all valuable pieces of information anglers can gather that will help a landowner properly manage and enhance their fishery. If managed correctly a fishing lease allows a landowner to turn a profit, improve the fishery, and potentially increase the overall value of the property.
If you are interested in starting a fishing lease on your lake you should first contact a fisheries professional to conduct an electrofishing survey, assess habitat, and come up with a longterm plan for how often the lake should be fished and how many fish should be culled per year.
Steven Bardin M.S.