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Women go fishing in greater numbers

Fishing isn’t just for men anymore. For the first time in several years, fishing gained more participants than it lost and it’s primarily because of women taking up the sport.

So says the data in the fourth annual study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and The Outdoor Foundation. The “2012 Special Report of Fishing and Boating” found that fishing remained one of the most popular recreational activities in the country with a growing number of people now trying the sport.

Specifically, the study determined that 800,000 new participants were added to the fishing ranks, bringing the total of Americans who fished to 46 million. That’s a healthy increase from the 45.4 million in 2010. But perhaps the biggest news is that most new participants were found to be women and young children.

“Families are searching to squeeze in quality time with each other whenever and wherever they can,” RBFF vice president of marketing and communications Leslie Nagao said. “That’s one reason we believe women and younger parents are taking up the sport in growing numbers.”

Another notable finding was that while the number of fishing participants increased, the number of fishing outings dropped from 20.4 days to 18.2 days fishing. In addition, 8 million participants stopped fishing altogether, but 8.8 million former or new participants joined the sport, thus providing the net increase in overall participation. Women and children ages six to 12 added the most new fishing participants. Adults 18 and older with children in their households participate in fishing at higher levels than adults without children.

The RBFF findings also support those in the marine industry that are calling for the need to reach out to minorities like African-Americans and Hispanics for our future growth.

For example, the study said that 3.1 million Hispanic Americans participated in fishing. Moreover, Hispanic Americans fish most often out of any fishing category or demographic group, averaging 20 fishing days per year.

Of course, while a growing body of anglers is found in women and minorities, men are still the majority of anglers and fishing from a boat is the most popular activity among men over the age of 16 with 64 percent participation.

In fact, while boating participation showed a slight drop from 18.2 percent of the population in 2010 to 17.8 percent in 2011, the average number of outings per boater increased from 13.2 annual outings to 14 annual outings last year. In addition, “multispecies” boats surpassed bass boat as the most popular boat type at 26 percent for multispecies, followed by bass boat at 16.3 percent. The social aspect of boating is notable with 63 percent of boating participants reporting that they go boating and fishing with friends.

It’s certainly welcome news for all dealers who sell fishing boats. After all, increased fishing participation can lead to increased boat sales, not to mention increased revenues from fishing licenses and boat registrations that support important state fish management programs and boating infrastructure development.

The fourth annual RBFF report provides detailed information on boating and fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. It’s available at



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