ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) — A sunny day in Erie means a quiet day at East End Angler on East Lake Road, with only a handful of customers stopping by.
That’s bad news for owner Kirk Rudzinski, who has watched sales melt along with the snow.
“Everybody goes to the bay, going out and getting minnows,” he said of days when there’s ice on local lakes. “They get tackle for ice fishing. It’s probably around 50% or 60% for the loss on ice fishing.”
The last two years, when ice fishing interest boomed, supply chain problems stunted sales.
Now, with gear readily available, there’s no one to buy it.
“We had inventory left from last year when we did a late order that took a long time to get, and then we only had two weeks of ice fishing, so that went away,” he said. “It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was enough to get it started for the year.”
So instead of ice fishermen, Rudzinski is counting on anglers like Randy Whittelsey.
He fishes from the shore, and says local creeks like four mile are loaded with fish.
“It just gives me something to do,” he said. “Breaks up the day, and it keeps my wife happy. January and February when I don’t fish, it can be a little testy at home, so I get out of the house once in a while and give her a break.”
Rudzinski says customers like Whittelsey help, but they don’t make up for ice fishing sales, so like the rest of us, he’s watching the forecast, hoping John Stehlin delivers some freezing weather.
“That would be really awesome, John,” he said. “Let’s get with it here. Snap snap. Chop chop.”