Press Releases

Participation in Fishing Up for Second Straight Year
Topline numbers from Outdoor Foundation Report, as well as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fishing License Data show category growth

ALEXANDRIA, VA (May 21, 2018) – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) today announced participation in fishing has increased for the second year in a row. Topline numbers from the soon to be released Outdoor Foundation Outdoor Recreation Participation Report and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Historical Fishing License Sales Data both show growth in fishing participation.


Highlights –

  • Fishing participation rose 4% to 49.1 million total participants in 2017
  • Fishing license sales increased 1.3% in 2017, making for a 4.3% increase over the last 10 years

Youth participation –

  • 11.6 million youth (ages 6-17) participated in fishing
    • Up 5.4% from 11 million participants in 2016

Female participation –

  • Increased 3.1% to 17.1 million participants

First-timers –

  • 3.0 million participants had their first fishing experience in 2017
    • Up 21% from 2.5 million in 2016

Hispanic participation –

  • Increased 11% to 4.2 million participants in 2017


“As we continue to move closer to our 60 in 60 goal, news like this is incredibly encouraging,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “It’s obvious that the work RBFF and the industry are doing is working. More and more consumers are realizing the joys of fishing, and with fishing being the number one activity done from a boat, the entire industry has plenty to celebrate. Perhaps most importantly, all this leads to more funding for critical conservation programs across the nation.”

Set for release in the coming days, the Outdoor Foundation’s report highlights participation and trends across the entirety of outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking, biking and more. The 2018 Special Report on Fishing, which will be released in July and includes additional information on fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region, will be available for download in RBFF’s Resource Center, along with previous years’ reports. Additionally, the USFWS issues an update on license sales data each year, including tags, permits and stamps, as well as the gross cost of fishing licenses sold.

Stakeholders can utilize RBFF’s research, marketing and event planning materials to recruit more new participants, retain existing customers, and reactivate lapsed participants, helping keep this positive trend going.


About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation's aquatic natural resources. RBFF's recently announced 60 in 60 effort strives to attract 60 million anglers to the sport by the end of 2021. To help recruit, retain and reactivate participants, RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns creating awareness about boating, fishing and conservation, and educating people about the benefits of participation. These campaigns help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, and, feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

For further information: David Rodgers,, 703-253-7268