Fishing remains the most popular recreational activity in the country, with more and more people trying out the sport every day according to a new study released this month by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation.
According to the 2012 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, for the first time in the history of the report, fishing added more participants (8.8 million) than it lost (eight million), bringing the total of Americans who fished to 46.2 million, or 16.2 percent of the population.
The fourth annual report provides detailed information on boating and fishing participation by gender, age ethnicity, income, education and geographic region.
Key finding about fishing participation were that 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 from an average of 18.2 days fishing in 2011 compared to an average of 20.4 days fishing in 2010.
Females and youths ages 6 to 12 added the most new fishing participants, and 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.
Typical of outdoor activities, fishing participation rates among the youth peak between the ages of 6 and 12, and then decrease during the adolescent years from 13 to 17. A total of 81.8-percent of fishing participants ages 6 to 12 are introduced to outdoor activities by their parents. Almost 44 percent of youth fishing participants ages 6 to 17 also participate in boating.
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. Multi-species boats surpassed bass boat as the most popular boat type at 26-percent for multi-species, followed by bass boat at 16.3 percent.
The social aspect of boating is notable with 63-percent of boating participants reporting they get on the water with friends.
It was found that Increased participation in boating leads to increased fishing license sales and boat registration renewals, both key sources for funding state fish and wildlife conservation, and boating infrastructure programs.