Every year we look forward to the statistics sent out as a partnership between the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. Their Special Report on Fishing provides a comprehensive look at the overall trends in participation and detailed information about specific fishing categories. We use some facets of this report to guide our editorial scope and others help us best understand the motivations, barriers, and preferences that pertain to our target audience.
As a magazine that works diligently to bring more people into fly fishing, this year’s report is a pat on the back for us here in the office, and to those who have our same common goal.
Let us help you break down some of the statistics in this report that we think matter.
Fishing is Growing!
Fishing participation continued to grow for the 11th straight year, adding 300,000 participants in 2018.
Fly fishing may have the fewest participants but saw the largest increase of numbers and percentage of participants in any category.
Fly fishing had the highest rate of first-time participants across all categories!
There are nearly 7 million fly anglers in the US alone. This is an ALL-TIME HIGH for fly fishing!
The fastest growing age group in fly fishing is 25-34 year-olds!
Last year there were 1.2 MILLION first-time fly fishing participants!
We track first time participation very closely for our industry for a number of reasons. As an industry, we want to continue to grow. First timers book classes, buy gear, take trips and have no brand loyalty. They are also so excited about the sport that their enthusiasm is palpable. And that’s exciting!
More Women are Fishing!
In 2018, female participation reached an all-time high at 17.7 million women who fish and fish on a regular basis.
Women go on an average of 16.5 outings per year.
Growing female fishing participation has great potential. Of non-participating females, 10% think about giving fishing a try.
According to Liz Ogilvie, VP and CMO, American Sportfishing Association (and DUN Author) “The number of women anglers is at an all-time high and has the potential to grow even further with an additional 10% interested in trying fishing. Let's do more to encourage our female friends and local community to join us on the water and see what fishing is all about.”
You can help!
Take someone fishing. You don’t have to be an expert to invite someone along.
Take your children with you. Statistics this year show that 77.8% of fishing participants were introduced to fishing before they were 12 years old. Introducing children to fishing is the best way to grow our sport.
Count on success. The study states that “First time participants tried fishing because they thought it would be relaxing, and they chose to continue fishing simply because they loved it.” Make sure when you take a new angler out fishing that you do everything possible to make them successful. Starting on a local pond for bluegill is a great way to be successful. A terrestrial pattern in the summer is also a great fly choice, since erratic movements that are natural to new fly anglers are also a natural presentation of a grasshopper that has fallen in the water.
We need to keep those who try fly fishing in fly fishing. The churn rate is high and we want to stop the leaky bucket. Encourage new anglers to join a Trout Unlimited group, or a United Women on the Fly Group. Encourage them to get involved in the local community of anglers. Making fishing friends and having someone to fish with is always helpful in keeping people in our sport.
In summary, if you’ve wondered if fishing is on the rise, or if fly fishing is growing, the answer is YES. As a magazine, we are encouraged by this report and feel fortunate to have played even a small role in the increase of fly fishing.