Start asking anglers why they fish and you’re bound to receive multiple answers—the enjoyment of being outdoors, the thrill of competition on the water, hanging out with friends and just getting away from it all. Recently, a report from the American Sportfishing Association identified seven angler personas that comprise U.S. anglers. The study, in which more than 3,000 U.S. adults were surveyed, is broken down below.
“Fishing defines me. It’s my lifestyle. While I love all things fishing, I’m especially gratified to help pass fishing along to future generations.”
Primary motivations for people considered traditional anglers consisted of passing on their love of fishing to others, being part of conservation efforts and having fishing passed down to them. Traditionalists made up 11 percent of anglers and were found to begin fishing at a younger age—around seven year old—with a high rate of participation and are considered the most experienced of the anglers surveyed.
Traditionalists considered the opportunity to catch big fish and the abundance of fish two major factors when selecting a fishing site. More than 87 percent of this group had fished within the last year, compared to the 1.5 percent that had fished more than 20 years ago.
“I love the outdoors and fishing is OK, but I when I fish, stay outta my way!”
Occasional anglers have the highest preferences for catching only large fish, trophy fish, or a targeted species. However, compared to other groups, these anglers had the lowest preferences for enjoying the outdoors, having a relaxing time and spending time with friends and family.
Occasional anglers made up 13.2 percent of those surveyed with their top three motivations to fish being able to introduce themselves and/or family to something new, being fascinated by fish, and the thrill/challenge of fishing. These anglers listed lack of crowds and ease of access as two primary factors when selecting a fishing site. Unlike the traditionalist group, only 43.9 percent of these anglers had been fishing in the past year. However, while 36.4 percent of traditionalist anglers had fished more than 50 days in the past year, occasional anglers weren’t far behind with 32 percent having fished more than 50 days in the past year.
“I really enjoy spending quality time with my friends and family outdoors. Fishing is a great way to do so.”
When it comes to fishing-related purchases, only about half of the friendly fishermen had done so in the past year, unlike traditionalists, with more than 92 percent making a fishing-related purchase. Still, just over 53 percent of occasional anglers had made a fishing-related purchase in the past year.
The top motivations for friendly fishermen were to connect with family or friends, spend time outdoors and get away and relax. More than half of the respondents in this group were women with the majority considering themselves intermediate anglers comfortable with the rod, casting and tackle selection in some settings. Similar to the other groups, most of these anglers (74 percent) were introduced to fishing by an older family member, usually a grandparent or parent.
Almost 40 percent of this group listed lack of crowds as a key factor when choosing a fishing site while the scenic beauty came in a close second. The number one reason for these anglers not fishing within the past year was due to not having anyone to go with. At the same time, most of these anglers said an invitation from a friend or family member would encourage them to fish more.
“Fishing allows me to spend time relaxing outside while bringing home dinner.”
More likely to fish with live bait in freshwater, this angler group enjoys catching fish for food, spending time outdoors and uses fishing to get away and relax. These anglers have also started young, around nine years old, and while many of them fish because it was a tradition passed down to them they also hope to pass on their love of fishing to others. The majority (41.1 percent) consider themselves intermediate anglers and consider having a familiar site or location they already have access or permission to a main reason for selecting a fishing spot.
This group also cited that having an invitation from a friend or family member would encourage them to fish more often. Information and insights from local fishing experts was cited as the second biggest reason they would fish more often. When it came to fishing within the last year, only 14 percent had fished more than 50 days while the majority (18.8 percent) had only fished six to 10 days the previous year. Almost 90 percent planned to go fishing within the next year.
“My friends, family and I love to try new activities together! It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, spending time with each other is our goal.”
Because the social dabbler group was found to use fishing as an opportunity to be in a relaxed setting and spend time with friends or family they were the least likely to have purchased fishing equipment in the past 12 months. In addition to connecting to friends and family as well as introducing themselves and their family to something new, they also listing catching fish for food at a top three motivation for fishing.
At an average age of 39 years old, this is also the youngest angler group with the majority (38.8 percent) considering themselves beginners with very limited experience holding a rod and casting. Only 3.1 percent considered themselves very experiences in all settings. Like the other groups, most were introduced to fishing by by a grandparent or parent. East of access was a priority when it came to picking a fishing site.
More than half of this group expected to fish freshwater within the next year with just over 31 percent planning to fish saltwater. This make them the group with the largest number of saltwater anglers.
“While I do enjoy relaxing outside, what really motivates me is the challenge of a thrilling activity like fishing!”
The second largest group of anglers, at 17.6 percent of the angler market, these anglers are motivated to fish for the thrill and/or challenge as well as being fascinated by fish and wanting an outdoor activity that connects with them. They consider being able to enjoy the outdoors in addition to spending time with friends and family two key factors in a good fishing trip.
While about two-thirds of this group fishing fewer than 10 days per year, only the traditionalists spend more days fishing. Adventurous anglers are also the most likely to spend money on fishing equipment, right behind the traditionalist group. Adventurous anglers consider the opportunity to catch big fish a main reason for selecting a fishing site.
“Fishing offers me a chance to relax. Fishing allows me to disengage from the stress of everyday life.”
It may not come as a surprise that the zen angler’s top motivation to fish is to get away and relax followed by spending time outdoors and being fascinated by fish. Zen Anglers prefer solitude. However, while these anglers didn’t cite using fishing as a way to connect as a top priority, they did however fall in the middle ground of the groups when asked if having friends and family along made for a good fishing trip. Still, a majority said an invitation from a friend or family member to fish would encourage them to fish more often.
These anglers cited a lack of crowds as a main factor when selecting a fishing site. Just over 71 percent said they planned to go fishing within the next year with 44.4 percent having fished within the past year. Zen anglers made up the most of all the groups, just surpassing the adventurous anglers.
View the full report here