June 5-13 is National Fishing and Boating Week
Fishing is a big sport.
As of 2018, 49.4 million Americans fished, spending 883 million days fishing. Freshwater fishing represents the largest segment, with 39 million participants. With some overlap, 12.8 million saltwater fish.
Anglers spend $49.8 billion on fishing trips, with the average cost per trip of $1,290 in 2016. The biggest segment costs are bait, boat rental or purchase, guide and land-use fees. That is more money than was spent on either birdwatching or hunting, which are also huge sports.
What do these anglers catch?
Top three freshwater fish caught:
The top three saltwater fish caught:
- American red snapper
- Scamp grouper
Men, women and fishing
While fishing was once a male-dominated sport, about 45 percent of new anglers are female. Half of these are girls ages 6 to 12. When you look at the overall fishing population, women represent about 35 percent of the total.
When you ask a man why he fishes, he usually answers, “To catch fish.” When you ask a woman, she typically says, “To relax and unwind.”
While the differences and similarities are fascinating, two stand out: Considerably more men than women will ice fish; women get their fishing information from the newspaper and men watch fishing shows!
Much is behind the allure of fishing
Fishing is popular for different reasons, but all of them are compelling.
Fly fishing requires an intense concentration on currents, food sources and the technique of presenting the right fly at the right place at the right time. In these moments, while standing in a beautiful stream or lakeshore, you are immersed in nature and not thinking about the mundane and sometimes unpleasant realities of your job, mortgage or pressing home repairs. You have a simplified life.
Boat fishing attracts people who love to study where the fish hang out depending on currents, water temperature and bottom structures. Catching fish can be as simple as having a cane pole and bait, or as gear-intensive as having a motorboat with an outboard or inboard, a trolling motor, sonar, bait and fish wells, expensive rods and reels and GPS tracking.
Fishing is a sport that attracts both introverts and extroverts. You can fish alone or make it a social outing. But in all cases, the goal is to be outside in nature and outsmart the fish, which are plenty smart themselves, and either catch and release or bring home a fresh fish dinner.
Some helpful fishing resources
Ready to wet a line? Here are resources to help you out: