Say Goodbye to the Old Boys’ Club

High female fishing participation marks a solid fishing year in 2012.

September 9, 2013
Female Fishing Participation

Female Fishing Participation

Ashley Knight caught this tasty summer flounder on a live shrimp in Fort Myers, Florida with Capt. Jimmy Nelson. Jimmy Nelson

The number of people fishing was up last year — with women and kids leading the way — according to a 2013 Special Report on Fishing and Boating by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and The Outdoor Foundation.

In total, more than 47 million people fished in 2012. Of those, 4.5 million tried fishing for the first time, a significant increase from 2011. Forty-one percent of all first-time fishing participants were female. That’s the highest number of new participants ever recorded.

“We’re extremely pleased to see the number of first-time anglers and participation overall continue to rise,” said RBFF President Frank Peterson. “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.”


The report provides information on fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography. Some details worth noting:

  • While 9.4 million anglers stopped fishing in 2012, almost 10.2 million new or returning anglers participated. That’s a net gain of more than 870,000!
  • Females make up a good chunk of all U.S. fishermen, totaling about 34.4 percent.
  • Americans made one billion fishing outings in 2012, averaging 21.3 fishing days per person.
  • Adults 18 and older with children in their households participate in fishing at higher levels than adults without children.
  • Fly fishing has the highest rate of first-time participants with 20.5 percent.
  • In 2012, 2.8 million Hispanic Americans participated in fishing.
  • Fishing participation for children peaks between the ages of six and 12, then decrease during the adolescent years from 13 to17.
  • Participation declines among females ages 13 to 17 more sharply than among males of the same age.

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation spoke with Orvis Merchandise Coordinator Christine Penn to see how the uptrend in female fishers is affecting new products directed toward women.


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