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USA Fishing participation exceeds 50 million for second time in 14 years

by Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation 2 Jun 17:07 PDT
Fishing participation exceeds 50 million for second time in 14 years © Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation

Fifty-two million Americans age 6+ went fishing in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation's (RBFF) 2022 Special Report on Fishing.

Down slightly from 2020, fishing participation exceeded 50 million for the second time in 14 years, posting gains over 2019 and supporting a six-year upward trend.

"We were all hoping to hit our goal of 60 million anglers by 2021. Still, there are plenty of positive numbers to celebrate in this year's report," said RBFF President & CEO Dave Chanda. "An additional 2.3 million Americans went fishing last year compared to pre-Covid years. More importantly, our key audiences for growth, including women, Hispanics, and youth, continue to participate at historically high levels."

RBFF is releasing participation data in advance of the Summer season to help inform the industry's efforts to engage and retain new audiences to support continued participation.

2022 special report key findings:

  • In 2021, 52.4 million Americans went fishing, up 4.5% over 2019.
  • 12.9 million youth (ages 6-17) went fishing in 2021, up 14% over 2019.
  • 4.7 million Hispanics fished in 2021, up 7% over 2019.
  • 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up 8% over 2019.
  • 86% of current fishing participants first fished before age 12, demonstrating the critical importance of introducing fishing at a young age.
  • Americans primarily fished to enjoy the splendor of nature while escaping the usual demands of life.

"While our efforts to engage diverse new audiences continue to yield strong results, our leaky bucket remains an issue," said RBFF Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications Stephanie Vatalaro. "2021 saw 11.7 million new and returning anglers, yet 14 million lapsed out. Together with our state and industry partners, we're working to strengthen retention efforts in 2022 and beyond."

RBFF will continue to release new fishing participation data over several weeks. The full report will be available in early Summer.

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