By MIKE TONTIMONIA
Although Ohio has but one major natural lake, the Buckeye ranks high in recreational boating. Of course that one major lake is a Great Lake, and indeed, Lake Erie is obviously the most significant single draw for boaters, measured by boat registrations and economic impact.
But while the waters of Lake Erie play a starring role, Ohio has plenty of boating opportunities, access and boats.
Lake Erie boasts some impressive numbers. Ohio’s northern coast borders 312 miles of Erie and taps 2.25 million acres, or 51 percent of the lake’s surface area. Inland Ohio waters, including lakes and ponds add up to approximately 850,000 acres. Now add rivers to get the big picture and reason for Ohio’s significant boating interest.
Moving water, including rivers, streams, creeks and ditches, and a sprinkle of others, add 128,500 miles of flowing opportunity, including 451 miles of Ohio River and another 112 miles of Muskingum River.
Ohio is ranked in the top 10 states when it comes it recreational boating, and has been for the past several years. Just last year, Ohio boaters set a state record by registering 450,018 boats of all sizes and shapes. That number surpassed the previous year by nearly 8000.
Boating is big business, generating economic impact to the tune of $3.5 billion each year and supporting 26,000 full time jobs and countless seasonal part-time jobs.
The average boat owner is male, age mid-50, with 29 years of boating experience, according to a fact sheet generated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
That figure should be disturbing because it indicates boat owners are graying. The average boat owned and used in Ohio measures 18 and one half feet bow to stern, and is 16 years old. Unlike dog years, boat years are simply boat years, and a well maintained boat of good quality can last twice that long.
Fishing is the reason most males own a boat, according to the national Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, that claims 64 percent of men older than 20 years do fish from a boat.
The same source indicates that of all fishing boats sold in the nation, multi-species boats outsell specific species such as bass style boats.
Fishing and boating. June 1-8 is National Fishing and Boating Week, so start your engines.
If Alex Trebek asks, take boating for $1,000 and remember these facts: 300,000 Ohioans live within 1 mile of Lake Erie and 2 million within 10 miles; 1.1 million Ohioans are 10 miles or less from the Ohio River; Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York and Ohio ranked No. 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 respectively among all 50 states in the number of registered boat during 2010, or 25 percent of all registered watercraft in the U.S. ; and some 75 million Americans go boating each year.