FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio — Fishing is a big part of Ohio’s economy. 

What You Need To Know

  • According to the American Sport Fishing Association, recreational fishing contributes more than $2 billion to the state's economy

  • In cities along Lake Erie, there are many people who make a living fishing in the great lake

  • In Fairport Harbor, many charter boat captains benefit from the industry

Master Captain Timothy Kline steers his boat through the waters of Lake Erie. 

“So many people take advantage of it and don’t realize what a great resource we do have,” said Kline. 

Here in Fairport Harbor, a village in Lake County, Kline is one of many charter boat captains who benefit from the business of recreational fishing. 

Back at the dock, Kline gets the boat ready for future clients with an emphasis on cleanliness in a year like no other. 

“Mainly everything gets treated with an alcohol rub down—handles, seats, rods and reels," said Kline. “The season has been different than any other season we’ve fished in the past 20 years."

Many charter boat captains dock at the Fairport Harbor Rod and Reel Association. And while charters were shut down to begin the summer, many people say the waters have been pretty active ever since.

“We’ve rebounded by booking a lot of week day trips; I don’t care to do double trips which means a morning and afternoon trip, but we’ve had to to catch up,” said Kline. 

As Kline heads off the dock, Captain Denny Sharrone of 22 Sport Fishing Charters is in the parking lot getting his boat ready for future charters. 

“Well, I’m a military guy. I’m a veteran, so my stuff is always kept us clean from the beginning, but I mean, yeah. I think just from a truly disinfecting standpoint, I think it’s taught us all—all us charter captains here on the lake—a lot of about just ways to improve and to stay even healthier then we were before,” said Sharrone.

Sharrone is in his second full year of running a charter and said despite the slow start, fishing is in demand. 

“We took the little bit of a hit early on in the year, but people have really just been wanting to get outside and do some active things and stuff. Get outside and enjoy the weather and fishing. So, I think since May, it’s really picked up great. A lot of people want to get out and go fish and have fun and have some positivity with all the craziness going on. So, it’s been fantastic."

But while recent news in Fairport Harbor has been positive, Kline, who’s booked up every weekend for the rest of the year, said there is a fear of more strict regulations or even another shut down. 

“I know some of the captains will be very devastated,” said Kline. “With the mandates getting stricter and once again. You know, we carry six people aboard the boat, plus a captain and a mate. So that’s eight. And the six-foot social distancing is practically impossible.”

This industry is reeling in success, but it's also preparing for the possibility of rough waters returning.