A new study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation reveals fishing is among the most important ‘gateway’ activities that often lead people, especially youth, to pursue other recreation experiences. And for the first time in several years – fishing gained more participants than it lost – in part due to women taking up the sport.
The study found that fishing remains one of the most popular recreational activities in the country with more and more people trying out the sport every day. According to the 2012 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, fishing added a net total of 800,000 new participants, bringing the total of Americans who fished to 46 million, or 16.2 percent of the population. Females and young children added the most new participants, showing unprecedented interest in this typically male-dominated sport.
“Families are searching to squeeze in quality time with each other whenever and wherever they can. Getting outdoors to fish and boat is a great way to do this,” said Leslie Nagao, RBFF Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “That’s one reason we believe women and younger parents are taking up the sport in growing numbers.”
The fourth annual report provides detailed information on boating and fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. A summary of the findings were highlighted this past weekend in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a trade show focusing on the latest innovative outdoor gear and trends in outdoor recreation. Nagao appeared as a an Outdoor Engagement session panelist at the event where she shared RBFF’s vision to attract new consumer segments – specifically multi-generational families and multi-cultural audiences – in boating and fishing.
“Increased participation leads to increased fishing license sales and boat registration renewals, both key sources for funding state fish and wildlife conservation, and boating infrastructure programs,” added Nagao. “We hope to keep the momentum going so the joys of fishing and boating can be experienced by everyone for generations to come.”
Key Study Findings
The methodology and full study is available online at RBFF.org.
- In 2011, 46.2 million Americans participated in fishing (an increase from 45.4 million in 2010).
- While eight million participants stopped fishing, 8.8 million former or new participants joined the sport, netting an increase in overall participation.
- Although the number of fishing participants increased, the number of fishing outings decreased (average of 18.2 days fishing in 2011 compared to average of 20.4 days fishing in 2010).
- Females and youths 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.
- Findings also indicate that fly fishing has the greatest amount of interest among newcomers, while saltwater fishing holds the interest of participants from youth through adolescence.
Hispanic American Fishing Participation
- 3.1 million Hispanic Americans participated in fishing in 2011 – a slight decrease from 3.4 million in 2010.
- Freshwater fishing is, by far, the most popular type of fishing among Hispanic Americans.
- Hispanic Americans fish the most often out of any fishing category or demographic group, averaging 20 fishing days per year.
Youth Fishing Participation
- Typical of outdoor activities, fishing participation rates peak between the ages of six and 12 and then decrease during the adolescent years from 13 to 17.
- 81.8 percent of fishing participants ages six to 12 are introduced to outdoor activities by their parents.
- Almost 44 percent of youth fishing participants ages six to 17 also participate in boating.
- Although boating participation decreased slightly (from 18.1 percent of population in 2010 to 17.8 percent in 2011), the average number of outings per boater increased from 13.2 annual outings in 2010, to 14 annual outings in 2011.
- Fishing from a boat is the most popular activity among males over the age of 16 with 64 percent participation.
- 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% of boating participants reporting they get on the water with friends.