MIAMI — Women helped drive an 8.2 percent spike in fishing participation in the last five years, with 45 percent of new fishing participants being female last year.
Of those females, 42 percent were between the ages of 6 and 12, said Frank Peterson, president of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Association, during an industry breakfast at the Miami International Boat Show.
“Women are extremely important to this increase in participation,” said Peterson. “We have to showcase girls and women participating in fishing. Women are extremely important to the industry they don’t see themselves in this sport. They don’t feel welcome, so we have to do a better job.”
To understand the needs of women, kids, Hispanics and other cultures, companies need to have relevant members on their staff, Peterson said, adding that 25 percent of RBFF employees now speak Spanish and all but four are female.
Overall fishing participation grew to 47 million in 2017, helping RBFF near its goal of “60 in 60” — having 60 million anglers over the course of 60 months.
In the last five years, participation was up 8.2 percent, and in the last 10 years, it was up 20 percent.
Getting kids fishing was an important part of the data — 84 percent of all adults who fish today did so for the first time before age 12, Peterson said.
“We talk about engaging millennials, if we wanted to start engaging millennials we should’ve started when they were age six, not age 35,” Peterson said.
There are now 59 million Hispanic people in the United States with $1.5 trillion of purchasing power, and 40 percent are millennials.
He also shared some more disturbing trends — kids today spend 40 minutes a week outside, and 62 percent of children didn’t participate in one outdoor activity in 2014.
“We’ve had a lot of successes, but there are some issues we have to take care of moving forward,” Peterson said.