According to data collected by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation for its 2023 Special Report on Fishing, Americans who fish recreationally share they are experiencing “enjoyment, companionship, and peace of mind on the water.”
In 2022, 54.5 million Americans ages six and over went fishing, an increase of four percent over 2021 and just under 2020’s high of 54.7 million. As mental health awareness becomes more of a focus for Americans, especially adolescents, fishing and boating provide the opportunity for connection, as the report indicates. Last year, only 19 percent of anglers fished alone regularly. Additionally, research showed that eight in ten fishing participants chose to fish in groups of between two and five people.
Those who partake in fishing ranked spending time in nature, escaping everyday stresses, and spending time with family and friends among the top benefits of fishing. The results also showed a comprehensive look at the state of fishing participation in the U.S.:
- 19.8 million women went fishing in 2022, a 40 percent increase over the past decade.
- 4.1 million Americans tried fishing for the first time in 2022, up from 3.7 million new participants the prior year.
- Participation among children ages 6-12 grew by 3 percent to 7.8 million, over one million higher than a decade ago.
- Between 2019 and 2022, the average participation among children ages 13-17 grew by 6 percent annually.
- 5.1 million Hispanics fished in 2022, an all-time high.
“Even after many have regained a sense of normalcy and returned to old routines, people are still choosing to fish and boat,” said RBFF President and CEO Dave Chanda in a press release. “With a renewed focus on wellness, fishing and boating offer an accessible outlet for those looking to unplug, escape the stresses of everyday life, and spend more time with friends and family.”
Eighty-six percent of current fishing participants began fishing before the age of 12, and 23 percent of those considering but not yet partaking in fishing were under the age of 18. These findings underscore the importance of introducing fishing at a young age.
“Fishing is a great way for children to spend time outdoors, and we consistently see greater participation in fishing among families with children in the household vs. those without,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication at RBFF, in the press release. “Given all the health benefits it can provide, we hope to see more parents spending time with their kids on the water and introducing them to fishing and boating, which can be a positive, lifelong hobby.”
This is the thirteenth year that this Special Report has been conducted. It provides an overview of fishing participation in the U.S., including participation numbers among essential groups, barriers to entry, reasons for participation, and more. RBFF created the report in partnership with the Outdoor Foundation.
The full report and an accompanying infographic are available at TakeMeFishing.Org/SpecialReport.
RBFF is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase recreational angling and boating participation, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. To help recruit, retain, and reactivate participants, RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ campaign to build awareness of boating, fishing, and conservation and educate people about the benefits of participation. For more information, please visit https://www.takemefishing.org/corporate/.