Economic Impact of Sportfishing
Thursday, August 27, 2009
By wowmynews

As anglers, I doubt we even realize the impact we have on our nations economy. Hopefully this will give you some insight on the positive cash flow we create by just doing what we are so passionate about.

In the past I’ve designed a couple of websites for tournament anglers and in the process I wanted to collect data to present to potential supporters and sponsors to make them aware of impact and participation. I recently “re-discovered” that data and thought you might find it interesting. So below is some of the numbers I collected from various sources that paint a pretty good picture of how fishing has evolved in to a money making, national past time.

Right now, the only ripple of interest to your angling friend is the one made by the fish as it surfaces at the end of the line. But all around, the money spent to buy tackle, gas for the boat and film to record the one that didn’t get away, is having a tremendous, positive impact on the economy. On average, an angler spends over $1,200 every year on the sport. Hidden, but none-the-less real, is a multiplying factor that effectively triples what you spend as the initial expenditure ripples through the economy. Take for example the $10 plunked down by an angler for a new a lure. It spreads outward just like the ripples made after the lure hits the water. That revenue helps the store’s owner pay her rent, bills and employees. These individuals then use part of that money for other goods and services and the rippling effect further spreads and repeats. Of course, ten dollars isn’t very significant by itself, but when 44 million anglers spend $41.5 billion in a year, the result in jobs, wages, and other economic effects is an extraordinary pillar of America’s economic health. More focused on playing the fish at the end of the line, your typical angler gives little thought to how his hobby is helping provide his fellow Americans a boatload of benefits. The 1.1 million jobs, $7.3 billion in tax revenues, and $30 billion in wages generated by recreational fishing are many times greater than those created by corporate giants like Ford, Microsoft or Nike. Generating more than $116 billion in total output, this remarkably simple activity of dipping one’s line in the water provides nine times the economic benefit of commercial fishing. ‘

“I like to fish because it is totally relaxing. I love the water. I can concentrate and forget all my worries. I count my blessings while fishing.’ George Bush, president.”


44.4 million Americans ages 7 and older fish2 (An estimated 50 million fish including all age groups). One out of every six U.S. residents 16 and older fish. 1 25 percent of U.S. males fish, and 8 percent of U.S. females fish. 1 Excluding those who fished the Great Lakes, freshwater anglers account for 82 percent of all anglers. Anglers spend an average of 16 days fishing and take an average of 13 fishing trips annually. Anglers 16 and older took 365 million freshwater fishing trips in 2001 totaling 467 million days. Including saltwater anglers, 437 million fishing trips totaling 557 million days were taken. From 1991 to 1996, freshwater fishing days rose 13 percent. The average number of freshwater fishing days per angler increased from 14.3 in 1991 to 16.7 in 1996. Between 1980 and 1995, the number of Americans who fished increased 16 percent. Residents of the South provided the biggest increase in fishing (21 percent) in the United States between 1980 and 1995. The number of males fishing increased 14 percent from 1980 to 1995.


Fishing ranks as the 4th most popular participation sport in the nation. It ranks ahead of bicycling, bowling, basketball, golf, jogging, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, football and skiing. Only walking, swimming and camping are more popular. More Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined. More Americans fish than play soccer and basketball. The number of youths ages 12 to 17 who participate in freshwater fishing increased 10.9 percent since 1991 to 4.5 million. During the same period, the number of youths ages 12 to 17 who play baseball decreased 15.4 percent to 4 million. Basketball, softball, tennis and volleyball participation declined between 2 and 46 percent. Fishing ranks as the 2nd most popular water-related outdoor sport in the United States. Swimming ranks 1st. Freshwater fishing ranks as one of the top-five participation sports in 7 states. Fishing in general (both freshwater and saltwater) ranks as one of the top-five participation sports in 18 states. Fishing is the No. 1 participation sport in Minnesota, Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Women and Minorities:

11.9 million women 7 and older fish. That’s more than the number who participate in jogging, basketball, volleyball, softball, golf or tennis. Freshwater fishing is the 10th most popular participation sport among women. 2 26.8 percent of all anglers are female 2 (representing 8 percent of the U.S. female population). 5 percent of all anglers are black (representing 7 percent of the black population). 5 percent of all anglers are Hispanic (representing 7 percent of the Hispanic population). The number of women fishing increased 19 percent from 1980 to 1995 compared to 14 percent for males. The region that experienced the largest increase in the number of females fishing was the Northeast. Women spend on average $246 per year for trip-related fishing expenses and $70 per year on fishing equipment for a total of $3 billion. Hispanics fish at lower rates than African-Americans and women, but they spend, on average, more money – $434 per angler for trips and $154 for equipment. Hispanics spent a total of $696 million per year on fishing trips and equipment. Fishing equipment expenditures among African-American anglers increased 43 percent between 1991 and 1996. African-American anglers spend on average $324 per year for trip-related fishing expenses and $128 per year on fishing equipment for a total of $814 million. African-American anglers spend more days fishing (22 vs. 18) and take more trips (18 vs. 14), on average, than all anglers. 64 percent of African-American anglers live in the South compared to 39 percent of all anglers. 43 percent of female anglers live in the South. 16 percent of African-American anglers live in the Midwest. 26 percent of female anglers live in the Midwest. 43 percent of Hispanic anglers live in the South. 38 percent of Hispanic anglers live in the West compared to 20 percent of all anglers. The number of days fished by African-American anglers increased 72 percent between 1991 and 1996 compared to 22 percent for all anglers. The number of days fished by female anglers increased 15 percent between 1991 and 1996. The number of days fished by Hispanic anglers remained constant between 1991 and 1996, but fishing trip expenditures increased 50 percent during the same period. 1.9 million persons 16 and older with disabilities took 33 million fishing trips in 2001, fishing for 41 million days.

Why People Fish:

33 percent of anglers fish to relax. 25 percent of anglers fish as a way of spending time with family and friends. 65 percent of non-anglers and 88 percent of anglers say that being asked by a child would make them want to go fishing or make them want to fish more often.

What People Fish For and Where They Fish:

Bass fishing is the most popular type of fishing in the United States. 38 percent of all freshwater anglers in the United States fish for black bass. 28 percent of freshwater anglers fish for trout. 28 percent of freshwater anglers fish for panfish. 27 percent of freshwater anglers fish for catfish. Bass are sought on 36 percent of all freshwater fishing days. 92 percent of freshwater anglers fish in their state of residence. 23 percent of freshwater anglers fish out of state. 85 percent of freshwater anglers fish in flat water, including ponds, lakes and reservoirs. 44 percent of freshwater anglers fish rivers and streams.

U.S. Anglers by Age Group:

17 percent of 16-to 17-year-olds fish, comprising 4 percent of all anglers. 13 percent of 18-to 24-year-olds fish, comprising 9 percent of all anglers. 19 percent of 25-to 34-year-olds fish, comprising 19 percent of all anglers. 21 percent of 35-to 44-year-olds fish, comprising 27 percent of all anglers. 17 percent of 45-to 54-year-olds fish, comprising 20 percent of all anglers. 16 percent of 55-to 64-year-olds fish, comprising 12 percent of all anglers. 8 percent of 65+ year-olds fish, comprising 9 percent of all anglers. Fishing among 35- to 44-year-olds increased 60 percent between 1980 and 1995. It was the largest increase of any group.

Economic Impact of Fishing:

Anglers spent $35.6 billion in 2001 to pursue their sport. They spent $14.7 billion for fishing trips, $17 billion for equipment, and $4 billion for licenses, stamps tags, land leasing and ownership, membership dues and contributions, and magazines. 1 If hypothetically ranked as a corporation, this revenue figure would put sport fishing at 32nd on the 2002 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies. Total economic output generated by freshwater fishing in 2001 exceeded $74 billion, including the impact on retailers, suppliers of goods and services to retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, plus the indirect and induced impacts resulting from these activities. Including saltwater fishing, economic output reached $116 billion. The average angler incurs $1,046 in fishing-related expenses. Freshwater fishing expenditures in 2001 generated more than $19.4 billion in wages. Including saltwater fishing, $30.1 billion in wages were generated (up 23 percent since 1991). 683,892 full-time jobs exist due to freshwater fishing. Including saltwater fishing, the total exceeds 1 million (up 16 percent since 1991). $2.07 billion was spent on fishing tackle in 2001. Fishing tackle ranks 4th in terms of consumer expenditures for non-team sports equipment. Golf equipment ranks first followed by exercise equipment and firearms for hunting. Florida anglers spend more than $4 billion annually on fishing and related equipment. California and Texas anglers spend more than $2 billion. Angler expenditures exceed $1 billion in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Economic Impact of Fishing:

U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-associated Recreation. National Sporting Goods Association. Sports Participation in 2001. Future of Fishing project conducted by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va. American Sportfishing Association. The 2001 Demographics and Economic Impact of Sport Fishing in the United States. Participation and Expenditure Patterns of African-American, Hispanic, and Women Hunters and Anglers. Addendum to the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Black Bass Fishing in the U.S. Addendum to the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. 1980-1995 Participation in Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Watching. National and Regional Demographic Trends. Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Web site,

Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff Writer BASSonline) / 888-829-BASS