More Anglers is Good News
Dr. John Woods 06.11.18
Recently as reported by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation, roughly 49 million Americans went fishing in 2017. That number is a rough increase of over 4 million folks doing some fishing over the past three years. That is really good news for states, license sales, and participation in outdoor activities.
It has long been known for nearly a decade or more that hunter numbers are way down, although some states have been showing slight upward trends in the past few years. Still, the ranks of hunters afield has been declining for some time with a resultant decline in license sales and taxes generated from related product sales.
It has also been known for a long time that there have always been more fishermen than hunters in this country, but honestly participation in the angling sports has slacked some, too. The fact that it appears more people have come to fishing in the past three years is a good sign and one we hope continues.
So, why has involvement in fishing and hunting basically declined over the last couple of decades and just now showing some renewed interest? Social scientists have been examining these issues as well as general participation in other traditional sporting activities like school sports, playing outside, getting outside, and back to nature, camping, and other outdoor recreational pursuits.
Much “blame” as it were has been put on the current use of indoor gaming, I-phone use, a more sedentary lifestyle by all age groups, family structure including single family households, income constraints, time management issues and all else. All of these factors have contributed some to the decline in all outdoor activities.
However, a number of programs and initiatives have been working to turn this around and it appears their impact is beginning to show some positive results. Such private ventures by companies like Bass Pro Shops, and Cabalas (now under the same umbrella) have sponsored events to get kids fishing with in store and outside events. When kids get involved, the parents always follow to some extent. Such initiatives are helping.
National Fishing Day and programs by parks and recreation city agencies across the country have also sponsored events to get people outside to play, walk, hike, camp, fish and sometimes hunt. State wildlife agencies are very active in free fishing events, free fishing days for everyone, special licenses, and other promotions. Mississippi has its Super Hunt for special needs individuals. State Wildlife Federation affiliates have fishing rodeos, youth hunts, and other outdoors events to engage adults and youth in the great outdoors.
So, it is good news that more people are fishing. More hunt in some states. Let’s hope these trends continue.