Fishing nets five million more US anglers

Last year, 55 million Americans went fishing – that’s five million new and returning anglers, who are young, more diverse and live in urban areas.

The 10 per cent growth in 2020’s numbers compared to 2019 has been revealed in preliminary data from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) 2021 Special Report on Fishing.

The report also highlights additional and substantial gains in key segments for growth including youth, women and diverse audiences.

Fishing participation overall rose to 18 per cent of the US population, which is the highest rate for more than a decade, with the biggest rise among youngsters.

The report reveals that youth participation grew by an amazing 53 per cent to 13.5 million young anglers during 2020.

There were record–breaking figures for the number of women who picked up a fishing rod – 19.7 million in all, which is 36 per cent of all anglers.

Almost 1.8 million more women went fishing in 2020 compared with the previous year, which represents more than a 10 per cent increase.

Records were also broken for the number of Hispanics taking part. According to the report, participation in this sector was up by 13 per cent to an all-time high of 4.8 million people.

First- time participants climbed to 4.4 million, up from 3.1 million last year and whole who re-engaged with the sport soared to 9 million, compared to 6.8 million last year and the RBFF also revealed that 88 per cent of current fishing participants had first picked up a rod before the age of 12.

RBFF senior vice-president of marketing and communications, Stephanie Vatalaro, said: “Fishing, like all other outdoor activities, clearly benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the skilful execution of marketing campaigns pre-Covid has allowed fishing and boating to rise to the top of the consideration set for consumers looking for outdoor activities.

“2020 was the perfect storm for fishing participation and consumer sentiment is prime for continued growth in 2021.”

However, preliminary data also identified a troubling three-year trend among lapsed anglers. In 2020, 8.8 million anglers disappeared from the sport. This group is primarily made up of Americans age 55+ who cite lack of time, preference for other outdoor activities, cost, loss of interest and lack of access to waterways as the primary reasons they lapsed.
Stephanie added: “As an industry, we need to plug our leaky bucket to realize our goal of reaching 60 million anglers by the end of 2021.”

RBFF has released participation data early this year to help inform the industry’s efforts to engage and retain these new audiences and will continue to release new fishing participation data over the coming weeks. The full report will be available in early summer.