Newcomers to Fishing Hits All-Time High

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – Showing a resurgence in one of America’s favorite pastimes, the number of Americans who go fishing is up, with more than 47 million people participating in 2012. Adding to the 42.5 million who are current or occasional anglers, more than 4.5 million first-timers tried fishing last year, a significant increase from 2011 and the highest number of new participants ever recorded. The 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating just released by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation also shows significant increases in fishing participation among women and children.

”We’re extremely pleased to see the number of first-time anglers and overall anglers, continue to rise,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “Working closely with our industry and state agency partners, our collective effort is yielding well deserved results. Increased participation, in both fishing and boating, leads to increased license sales, and boat registrations, key sources for funding state fish and wildlife conservation programs.”

“Fishing and boating are among the most important ‘gateway’ activities that often lead people, especially youth, to pursue other recreation experiences,” said Christine Fanning, Executive Director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We’re thrilled to partner, once again, with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation on this important research project.”

The fifth annual report details fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography.


Fishing Participation

  • In 2012, 47 million Americans went fishing (an increase from 46.2 million in 2011).
  • While 9.4 million people stopped fishing, 10.2 million new or returning anglers participated in the sport, netting a gain of more than 870,000.
  • Americans made one billion fishing outings in 2012, averaging 21.3 fishing days per person.
  • Forty-one percent of first-time fishing participants were female, bringing the total of female anglers to 34.4 percent.
  • Adults 18 and older with children in their households participate in fishing at higher levels than adults without children.
  • Fly fishing had the highest rate of first-time participants with 20.5 percent.

Hispanic American Fishing Participation

  • In 2012, 2.8 million Hispanic Americans went fishing – a slight decrease from 3.1 million in 2011.
  • Freshwater fishing is the most popular type of fishing among Hispanic Americans.
  • Hispanic Americans fish the most often of all ethnicities, averaging 21.6 fishing days per year.

Youth Fishing Participation

  • Fishing participation for children peaked between the ages of six and 12, then decreased during the adolescent years of 13 to 17.
  • In 2012, 81.8 percent of youth anglers ages six to 12 were introduced to outdoor activities by their parents.
  • Participation declined among females ages 13 to 17 more sharply than among males of the same age.
  • More than 45 percent of youth fishing participants ages six to 17 also participated in boating.

The full study is available online at

About The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
Celebrating 15 years in 2013, RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ campaign to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing helps boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign website,, features tips and how-to’s that can be used all over the country, tools to compare different styles of boats, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.