Fishing still ranks as the No. 1 boating activity, so when it’s reported that more than 4.5 million newcomers tried fishing last year, it’s good news for the future of boating.
In their 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation found last year had the highest number of first-time anglers ever recorded. They joined the 42.5 million current or occasional anglers. This fifth annual research study by RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation shows a welcomed resurgence in the overall number of anglers. Further, the report breaks down fishing participation in the nation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography. Here are some highlights:
• Overall fishing participation in America rose from 46.2 million in 2012 to 47 million in 2013. The research also revealed some 9.4 million people stopped fishing, but 10.2 million new or returning anglers registered to produce a net gain of 870,000.
• Interestingly, 41 percent of the first-timers that wet a line last year were women. Overall, the total number of female anglers is now 34.4 percent or 16.2 million women. Moreover, Americans made 1 billion fishing outings in 2012 for an average of 21.3 fishing days per person. Not surprisingly, adults 18 and up with children in their households participated in fishing more than adults without children, clearly revealing boating as a family sport.
• In keeping with the family idea, a look at results for young anglers showed fishing participation for kids peaked between ages 6 and 12. It decreased during ages 13 to 17. In 2012, 81.8 percent of young anglers ages 6-12 were introduced to outdoor activities by parents. Participation declined among females ages 13-17 more sharply than for males of the same age. All that aside, more than 45 percent of youth fishing participants ages 6 to 17 also indicated they participated in boating.
• Finally, looking at the growing Hispanic market, a total of 2.8 million Hispanics went fishing in 2012, but it was down from 3.1 million the previous year. On the other hand, Hispanics who are anglers fish the most often of all ethnicities at an average of 21.6 days per year. And freshwater fishing is the most popular type of fishing among Hispanics.
As I have reported here in previous blogs, the RBFF is just beginning a five-year strategic plan to attract more of the rapidly growing Hispanic-American population to boating and fishing. Moreover, for fishing and boating in general, RBFF recently signed a five-year pact with Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando and Disney Media Network that will significantly advance RBFF’s “Take Me Fishing” brand and its mission to increase boating and fishing opportunities for all families.
Seeing more people fishing and boating means more fishing licenses and boat registrations are purchased in states where these funds are committed to investments in fishery management programs and boating access to our waterways. That’s always good news.