ROGERS CITY - Good fishing has led to an upturn of boaters using the Rogers City Marina, according to the harbor master.
At the harbor advisory committee's meeting Tuesday, Harbor Master Roger Wenzel reported an increase in slip rentals, tie-ups by visiting boaters and launch fees. If the weather cooperates and the fish stick around for the rest of the season, the trend should continue as well. However, there are still concerns about the marina's finances, according to the city manager.
This year, around 45 boaters have rented seasonal slips, compared to 30 last year, Wenzel said. There have been substantially more visitors as well, with twice the amount of transient tie-ups and boat launches in July than last year for the same month.
"Launch fees are up because of fishing," Wenzel said. "People are catching fish and telling their neighbors and friends."
The news is spreading, both by word of mouth and from a Department of Natural Resources creel catch surveyor's weekly report, Wenzel said. For some anglers, the news has been good: one seasonal slip renter caught a 24.5-pound Atlantic salmon on Tuesday.
"A lot of people are fishing here this year who haven't been in the last few years."
Weather can have an effect on fishing and marina usage, Wenzel said. July 2011 was cool and windy, much like the start of August this year.
"August (usage) is down a bit because of heavy winds," he said. "Now the water has settled down, and the fish have come back."
The marina season, which ends Oct. 15, is a little past half over, Wenzel said.
While the marina is seeing more use than last year, its finances are still "not great," City Manager Mark Slown said. Dwindling revenues have forced the city to cut the marina budget by more than a quarter since 2008. Even with these cuts, the city is still putting money into the marina fund each year.
"In 2008, the marina budget was about $400,000," he said. "Now in the new year it's going to be $289,000. We've cut the marina budget a lot, and that's both revenues and expenses."
These cuts have included personnel, Slown said. Instead of a full-time harbor master, the city now employs Wenzel for the job. He also heads the city's Department of Public Works. Instead of a $30,000-per-year position, the city pays Wenzel $5,000 annually on top of his DPW salary.
The city has put about $60,000 per year into the marina budget, Slown said. In some years, the amount was much higher.
There are new boats coming into the marina, and its finances are slightly better than before, but it will take more than one season to right the ship, Slown said. Even with more use so far, the marina's budget will likely be very tight.
"We would need a sustained performance like that over a couple of summers before we would start to say, 'Hey, things are starting to look better.'"
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.