Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 16, 2020—With COVID-19 transforming Americans’ recreational habits, a new study from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has found that millions of new or returning participants have taken up fishing & boating. Particular increases were seen among nontraditional participants, signaling the activities’ increasing appeal among new audiences.
Titled Who’s On Board: Keeping New Anglers & Boaters Hooked, the study is a comprehensive look at America’s newcomers to the water and how COVID-19 is influencing the future of outdoor recreation. It was conducted by RBFF to support its Take Me Fishing brand.
Several factors were listed when it came to individuals becoming new boaters and anglers. Among the reasons listed for trying boating or fishing were limited entertainment during the lockdown, additional time and moving closer to the water. Some individuals also reported buying a boat with canceled vacation funds.
The study calculated there were more than 17 million new or reactivated anglers and boaters in 2020 with more than seven million were new anglers and just over five million were new boaters. Males make up the majority of new anglers at 59 percent but the number of new female anglers isn’t far behind at 41 percent. Among all new anglers, 73 percent are married.
About two out of three new anglers stated they had an interest in fishing but hadn’t acted on it yet with TV ads, social media, magazines and blogs being major factors in trying fishing. Out of those that started fishing for the first time, 76 percent purchased a fishing license and three percent spent over $1,000 to fish, not including gear purchased.
Saltwater fishing made up 33 percent of the type of fishing done by new anglers. For new anglers, returning anglers and established anglers, relaxation and peacefulness were cited as top reasons to be on the water.
“Social distancing has undoubtedly made many of our routine leisure activities inaccessible, but it also led many of us to discover new ways of enjoying our free time and practicing self-care during the pandemic,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for RBFF. “With all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, fishing & boating provide a host of benefits including peace and relaxation, quality time with family and loved ones and even simply the calming effect of nature.”
Key findings from the report include:
- Millions of Americans took up fishing or boating as new or returning participants during summer 2020.
- New anglers and boaters are younger, more urban and more diverse. They are also highly socially connected.
- Common reasons for getting started included canceled vacations and summer plans, more flexible schedules while working from home and inspiration from family and friends.
- New anglers overcame a variety of barriers including inexperience, lack of equipment and not having a fishing companion.
- Benefits people liked most about fishing & boating included the calmness of nature, enjoyment and mental wellness.
- Newcomers overwhelmingly plan to continue fishing & boating. Among boaters, 94% say they’ll continue, and among anglers, 90% plan to continue in the future.
- Personal motivations for continued participation include three key elements of fishing & boating: social connection with loved ones, the challenge of the activities and the connection to nature they offer.
For the full report, visit takemefishing.org.