If the industry adage is true, fishermen will remain active in the boating market even in tough times. I know several dealers who readily confirm that without the anglers who are still buying boats, their dealerships would be DOA. So, the worth of fishing to our industry cannot be overstated.

That’s why we can applaud the newest program developed by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) aimed at bringing back anglers who have stopped fishing, as evidenced by their failure to repurchase a fishing license.

The program kicks off this month with a whopping 30 states slated to participate. These states will send postcards, self-mailers and letters that encourage anglers to return to fishing, buy their fishing license and, by doing so, support important aquatic conservation efforts and educational programs.

Participating states have already received the creative elements from RBFF that feature a “wood grain” background and icons for boating, fishing, family and conservation. If you’ve ever seen the “Take Me Fishing” TV commercials or print ads, you know of the excellent materials produced by RBFF. The resources for the lapsed angler program are the same caliber. 

In addition, beginning this month, the participating states will be receiving radio advertising and public relations support. And, this week, Frank Peterson, RBFF President and CEO, will update the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference on the lapsed angler recruitment program – and encourage additional states to sign on.

States not participating, but should, include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Since 1998, the non-profit RBFF has been implementing a national outreach campaign designed to increase recreational boating and fishing participation and promote conservation and responsible use of the nation’s aquatic resources.

The RBFF chairman of the board is Thom Dammrich, the NMMA president. Funding comes from the federal Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund (often dubbed the Wallop-Breaux fund.) Last year alone $7.5 million was spent on consumer ads and PR, promoting boating and fishing.

For dealers, the RBFF has a variety of excellent materials and aids available. If you’re not using some of them in your store, in your ad campaigns or at your customer events, check it out at