34+ New Sport Fishing Statistics

Sport fishing is a beloved activity with 52.4 million participants in the U.S. Men dominate the sport, but women and youth are increasing in numbers.

Success zander fishing. Happy fisherman with big walleye fish trophy at lake

Sport fishing is not just a recreational activity; it’s a cherished pastime enjoyed by millions of enthusiasts worldwide.

Whether casting lines in freshwater lakes, navigating the vast ocean depths, or fly fishing in serene rivers, anglers immerse themselves in a captivating pursuit that combines skill, patience, and a profound connection with nature.

Here are 35 new sport fishing statistics that shed light on the enchanting world of angling.

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Top 10 Statistics

  1. Outdoor Recreation is 1.9% Of U.S. GDP
  2. Sport Fishing Ranked 3 Out of 34 for NFA 
  3. Sports Fishing Equipment Has $18.2 Billion Projection
  4. 52.4 Million Americans Went Sport Fishing in 2021
  5. Most Anglers Are Men (60%)
  6. There Are 67.1 Thousand Fishing Businesses
  7. Americans Spent $751.38 Million on Fishing Licenses in 2021
  8. 80% of People Who Fish Are White
  9. 30% Of Anglers Started Fishing Due to Covid-19

35 New Sport Fishing Statistics

We’ve compiled 35 sport fishing statistics for you to take a look at below!

1. Outdoor Recreation is 1.9% Of U.S. GDP

According to new U.S. data and the American Sportfishing Association, the outdoor recreation economy made up 1.9% ($454.0 billion) of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, and recreational fishing is an integral part of that industry.

2. Sport Fishing Ranked 3 Out of 34 for NFA

Sport fishing ranked 3rd among 34 recreational activities across the National Forest Service in the U.S. in 1978, inventoried by the USDA Forest Service.

3. 10 Best National Forests for Cold Water Fishing Are All in the West

The 10 National Forests that ranked highest for cold water fishing in the U.S. are all in the West, and the primary fish caught are trout.

4. Sport Fishing Equipment Has $18.2 Billion Projection

The sports fishing equipment market worldwide is expected to reach 18.2 billion by 2030; as the number of participants continues to rise, tourism industries will boom, and there’s more technological advancement in the equipment.

5. 52.4 Million Americans Went Sport Fishing in 2021

In 2021, there were around 52.4 million people who participated in some form of sport fishing in the United States alone. That’s up 4.5% from 2019.

6. Most Anglers Are Men (60%)

According to a Statista survey from 2021, over 60 percent of anglers in the United States were men. There are various historical, cultural, social, marketing, and other reasons as to why this might be the case.

7. There Are 67.1 Thousand Fishing Businesses

In 2023, there were approximately 67.1 thousand fishing businesses in the United States, which is slightly lower than the total from the previous year. The number of fishing businesses reached its highest point in 2019.

8. Americans Spent $751.38 Million on Fishing Licenses in 2021

The gross cost of fishing licenses in the U.S. was around 751.38 million U.S. dollars in 2021, and it’s been steadily increasing since 2010. 

9. 80% Of People Who Fish Are White

According to the 2021 Statista survey, 8 out of 10 participants (80%) indicated that they were white. The second largest ethnic group was Hispanic, at only 9%.

10. 30% Of Anglers Started Fishing Due to Covid-19

In 2021, three out of 10 participants indicated that they decided to take up fishing due to other activities being closed because of Covid-19.

11. 40% Of American Anglers Practice Catch-And-Release

40% of U.S. fishing participants indicated in 2021 that they released their fish after catching it, which suggests a form of sport fishing called “catch and release.” This means they aren’t catching their fish to eat it, but rather, just for the fun of the activity.

12. Smells and Sounds of Nature Are Appealing for 57% of Anglers

57% of U.S. fishing participants said in a 2021 survey that they found fishing appealing due to the smells and sounds of nature. And 54% of these participants agreed that one of the best things about fishing is the ability to escape life’s usual demands.

13. There are 20,697 North American Fishing Events Annually

There are approximately 20,697 competitive fishing events across North America each year. This stat comes from a survey of fishery agencies in the U.S., Canada, the District of Colombia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Adjusting for non-respondent fisheries, there are actually an estimated 31,000 events annually.

14. There Are 2,000,000 Annual Catches in a Californian Pleasure Boat Fishery

The California Division of Fish and Game has been gathering data on the ocean sport fishery as part of its management program since 1936. As a component of this initiative, operators of pleasure fishing boats submit daily reports on the catches made by their passengers. On average, the annual catches in this fishery amount to 2,000,000 fish, weighing a total of 6,000,000 pounds.

15. Non-Native Fish Contributed Around $250 Million to Aquaculture Production Value

Non-native fish contributed at least $250 million in 2008 (63% of the total value of freshwater fish aquaculture) to the total aquaculture production value, according to the Fish and Agriculture Organization, perhaps due to market demand and product diversification. 

16. The Average Lagoon of Venice Angler’s Surplus is €1700/Year

A summer 2002 study about sportfishing in the Lagoon of Venice found that the average angler’s surplus is €1700/year, while a 50% improvement in the catch rate would result in €2800/year. 

17. There Were 62-63 Fishermen in Balbina Reservoir

According to a December 2001-January 2002, 47 fishermen in Balbina reservoir, Central Amazon, comprised 75% of the fishermen population at the time. The study was done to see how these fishermen were affected by the growing number of sport fishing activities.

18. Around 27% of Swedes Participated in Sport Fishing in 2000

In 2000, there were about 6.3 million people between the ages of 16 to 74 who lived in 

Sweden, and 1.7 million engaged in sport-fishing at least once a year in

recent years (Finfo, 2000).

19. There Are 8.7 Million European Recreational Marine Fishers 

In 2017, the total number of European recreational marine fishers was estimated at 8.7 million, including 5.9 million in the Atlantic region and 2.8 million in the Mediterranean region.

20. Norway and the U.K. Produced High Numbers of RMF in the Atlantic Region

The highest numbers of recreational sea fishers in 2017 were coming from Norway, and the U.K. in the Atlantic region, and the highest from the Mediterranean were coming from Italy. 

21. There were 80,000 Croatian Recreational Fishers in 2018

In 2018, the total number of sport and recreational fishers in Croatia was shown to have remained steady from previous years, at approximately 80,000 participants.

22. Croatian Yearly Economic Revenue of Sports Recreational Fisheries totaled 100 million euros 

The minimum calculated economic revenue of sport-recreational fisheries in Croatia in 2018 amounted to nearly 100 million euros annually.

23. MRF Is Responsible for 27% Of Total Northern European Sea Bass Removal

In 2017, MRF (marine recreational fishing) represented 27% of the total removal of northern European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax, Moronidae) and western Baltic cod (Gadus morhua, Gadidae) stocks.

24. 12.9 Million Youth Went Fishing in 2021

In 2021, 12.9 million youth between the ages of 6-17 went fishing, which was up 14% from 2019. Outreach, awareness, family traditions, social media, and an emphasis on outdoor activities due to Covid-19 may all play a role in this increase.

25. 86% Of Current Anglers Had An Early Start

Interestingly, 86% of current fishing participants in 2021 indicated that they first went fishing before age 12. This finding demonstrates the significance of introducing fishing at a young age.

26. 19.4 Million Women Went Fishing in 2021

The same 2021 study found that 19.4 million women went fishing that year, which is 8% from 2019.

27. Women Represented a Record-Setting 37% Of All Angler Participation

That was also 37% of all angler participation, which set a record for women participating in sport and recreational fishing.

28. 4.7 Million Hispanics Went Fishing in 2021

Also, in 2021, 4.7 million Hispanics fished that year – an increase of 7% over 2019

29. All but 1% Of Anglers in 2021 Planned To Continue Fishing in 2022

An outstanding 99% of the fishing participants in 2021 planned to continue fishing the next year. This high percentage speaks to the beauty and intrigue of this popular outdoor sport.

30. Fishing Started Consistently Trended Upwards in 2015

The positive trend of fishing began in 2015, and the stats have continued to rise ever since.

31. Fishing Tackle Sales Went Up 0.3%

According to the American Sportfishing Association, the overall fishing tackle sales from 2022 to 2023 have gone up by 0.3%. These are marginal gains but still a positive increase.

32. Durable Fishing Goods Sales Went Up By 1.5%

The durable fishing goods sales went up by 1.5%, suggesting that there is a sustained demand for high-quality, long-lasting fishing equipment and accessories among anglers.

33. Consumable Fishing Good Sales Rose By 1.9%

The consumable fishing goods sales went up by 1.9%, which might indicate a growing demand for replenishable supplies and consumables used in fishing activities, such as bait, lures, fishing lines, hooks, and other consumable products.

34. Soft Goods and Technical Apparel Sales Went Down By 2.1%

And finally, the only type of sale to go down was the soft goods and technical apparel sales – down by 2.1%.

35. There Were 890 Million Total Fishing Outings in 2021

In 2021, there were 890 million total fishing outings, with an average of 17 annual outings per participant.

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