Recreational fishing is a vibrant part of America’s outdoor tradition, promoting wellness, fostering bonding with family and friends, and forging a deep connection with nature, particularly amid COVID-19 related limitations. Whether fishing on lakes, rivers, streams, or seas; from shorelines, boats, or embankments; millions of Americans were united in 2021 by the love of fishing. Using 15 years of fishing participation data, the Outdoor Foundation and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) partnered to produce the Special Report on Fishing for the 12th consecutive year. This report provides a comprehensive look at overall trends in participation, as well as detailed information on specific fishing categories. Insights include motivations, barriers, and preferences of key groups. Special sections are dedicated to youth, Hispanic Americans, and females—populations we must engage, activate, and retain to ensure future growth.
Key findings from the report include the following:
- In 2021, 52.4 million Americans went fishing, up 4.5% over 2019.
- 12.9 million youth (ages 6-17) went fishing in 2021, up 14% over 2019.
- 4.7 million Hispanics fished in 2021, up 7% over 2019.
- 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up 8% over 2019.
- 86% of current fishing participants first fished before age 12, demonstrating the critical importance of introducing fishing at a young age.
- Americans primarily fished to enjoy the splendor of nature while escaping the usual demands of life.