Boating and Fishing Foundation says 2020 Banner Year for Fishing


Boating and Fishing Foundation says 2020 Banner Year for Fishing

It comes as no surprise during all the shutdowns that COVID-19 has caused folks to turn to outdoor activities. In fact, in a previous AllOutdoor article, 5 Ways to Beat the Covid Blues, I discuss how getting outside, especially during tough times like COVID-19, does your heart, mind and soul well. Fishing is one of America’s greatest outdoor activities. Just how many turned to this favorite past time during the 2020 shutdowns? In the following press release the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation reveals 2020 was a banner year for fishing:

Fifty-five million Americans age 6+ went fishing in 2020 according to preliminary data from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) 2021 Special Report on Fishing. Some 5 million new and returning anglers, who are younger, more diverse and live-in urban areas, represent 10% growth in fishing participation in 2020. In addition to overall participation gains, RBFF saw substantial gains in key segments for growth including youth, women and diverse audiences.

“Fishing, like all other outdoor activities, clearly benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the skillful execution of marketing campaigns pre-COVID has allowed fishing and boating to rise to the top of the consideration set for consumers looking for outdoor activities,” said RBFF Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Stephanie Vatalaro. “2020 was the perfect storm for fishing participation, and consumer sentiment is prime for continued growth in 2021.”

RBFF is releasing participation data early this year to help inform the industry’s efforts to engage and retain these new audiences.


  • Fishing participation rate rose to 18% of the U.S. population, the highest rate in over a decade
  • Youth participation in 2020 grew 53% to 13.5 million total participants
  • Hispanics participated at an all-time high with 4.8 million participants, a 13% increase from 2019
  • 19.7 million female participants represented a 36% of total participants, an all-time high
  • Nearly 1.8 million more women went fishing than in the year prior, with a 10% increase
  • First- time participants climbed to 4.4 million (up from 3.1 million last year)
  • Reactivated participants soared at 9.0 million (compared to 6.8 million last year)
  • 88% of current fishing participants fished before the age of 12

Preliminary data also identified a troubling three-year trend among lapsed anglers. In 2020, 8.8 million anglers lapsed out of the sport. This group is primarily made up of Americans age 55+ who cite lack of time, preference for other outdoor activities, cost, loss of interest and lack of access to waterways as the primary reasons they lapsed.

“As an industry, we need to plug our leaky bucket to realize our goal of reaching 60 million anglers by the end of 2021,” added Vatalaro.


Boating and Fishing Foundation

Our nation is still struggling with COVID-19. Even after this pandemic is long past folks will still be enjoying the great outdoors; I know I will. Fishing is one of the greatest ways to do just that. After all, feeling that tug on your line and reeling in a fish of any size just does a person’s soul well.

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Terry Nelson is currently a writer for AllOutdoor who has chosen not to write a short bio at this time.

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