ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With more women working in C-Suites, heading military installations and holding political offices, it should be no surprise that according to the 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, 41 percent of the nation’s first-time fishing participants are female, and 46 percent of women are interested in trying the sport.
The research, published by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation in partnership with the Outdoor Foundation, shows in 2012, Americans made one billion fishing outings and 805.5 million boating trips, increases for both sports.
“This is an important time for the sports of fishing and boating,” said RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson, whose organization is at the helm of the initiative driving national participation,
“We are particularly excited to see interest and participation higher among women, who are traditionally underrepresented in the sport.
“And, the rising tide of people fishing and boating means more funds for protecting, conserving and restoring our nation’s aquatic natural resources from fishing license sales and boat registrations,” he added.
In 2012, fishing added nearly 800,000 more participants to the sport, bringing the number of Americans casting a line last year to 47 million.
The average participant spent 21 days fishing, whether close to home or on extended trips. Freshwater fishing remained the most popular type of fishing, accounting for 667 million of the one billion outings to our nation’s lakes, ponds and rivers.
Saltwater fishing is the second most popular with 200 million outings, followed by fly fishing with 94 million outings.
With 41 percent of first-time fishing participants being women, the total number of female anglers has now reached 34.4 percent of the overall.
Other recent reports are echoing this jump. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, female participation in fishing has grown twice as fast as male participation over the past five years.
And, in the past three months alone, the female audience of Take Me Fishing’s Facebook page has grown twice the rate of the male audience.
These numbers show that not only are female anglers hitting the water, they are hitting social media and engaging in digital conversations about the sport.
“There is no hard data to help us understand why the number of female anglers is on the rise,” said RBFF director of communications and female angler Stephanie Vatalaro. “But with the nationwide movement to be active and enjoy the outdoors, more families, including ‘Mom,’ may be hitting the water to enjoy fishing and boating.
Boating participation is also on the rise with more than 88 million Americans participating in boating in 2012 according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Additionally, fishing from a boat remains the most popular activity while boating, in fact it’s the highest it’s been in eight years, with 63 percent of people trying to hook a big one from their vessel.
Among America’s youth, fishing participation rates are highest among those ages six to 12, accounting for 6.4 million children, who are most likely to be introduced to the sport by their parents. Seventy-eight percent of fishing participants are Caucasian, with the remainder split among emerging majorities including African Americans (8.2 percent), Hispanics (5.6 percent) and Asians (4 percent).
When it comes to future growth of the sport, it is no surprise that RBFF is hoping to expand its allure among new and diverse populations.
“The 2013 research shows, for example, that Hispanic-Americans spend time enjoying cross-over outdoor, fitness activities such as camping, running and biking,” said Peterson.
“We want to communicate how fishing and boating are cool, relaxing and a change from routine, three top reasons why research says Hispanics participate in outdoor activities.