Woman fishing
Photo credit: Revant Optics

Diversity Growing Among Anglers, Report Finds

A new report from the Recreation Boating and Fishing Foundation’s 2019 Special Report on Fishing finds that diversity continues to climb within the ranks of anglers.

The latest news out on the demographics of anglers shows that 49.4 million people fished in 2018, staying pretty steady with a slight increase of about 300,000 people. But the diversity within those numbers is changing.

In total, Americans went fishing 883 million times last year. That’s an average of 17.9 annual fishing days per person.

While this average number is down by an average of 2.1 percent over the past 3 years, the people doing the fishing look more diverse than ever.

Diversity Growing in Fishing

The report shows that a growing number of women are interested in fishing. In 2018, 17.7 million women participated in fishing. But there are a lot of opportunities to build the sport with female participation. In 2018, 10 percent of non-participating females considered trying fishing. But a very small percentage of females actually tried fishing for the first time. Just 0.8 percent of female participants were first-timers in 2018.

Hispanics are also coming to fishing steadily, with 4.4 million having fished in 2018. And the typical Hispanic angler got out more than anyone else, averaging nearly 22 days on the water.

“It’s often assumed that all anglers look alike,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, RBFF’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “Our mission is to welcome everyone to the water — because if you want to learn to fish, you should have that opportunity no matter who you are. And while our work isn’t over, it’s clear from these results that the tides are changing.”

And beyond the rise in diversity, the report finds a connection to conservation. Three out of four anglers report that part of their motivation to fish relates back to environmental benefits.

Interestingly, while fly fishing has the fewest participants of any style of angling, it is the fastest-growing at 4.5 percent.

Curious about other facts and figures related to the sport of angling? You can find the full report here.

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.