Press Releases

RBFF Taps Avid Anglers To Expediate Participation Growth

ALEXANDRIA, VA (May 14, 2006) – The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has launched a new program called Anglers’ Legacy to help grow fishing and boating participation, and it is already getting an enthusiastic thumbs up from fishing and boating’s top companies, including intense competitors.

Anglers’ Legacy is all about motivating avid anglers to “take someone fishing.” The program will complement, not replace, the RBFF’s national Take Me Fishing™ mission. It is a simple plan that research says will work. RBFF president Bruce Matthews explains why.

“The Anglers’ Legacy message is an easy one: someone once took the time to introduce you and me to fishing, and now it’s time for us to return the favor,” he said. “Research shows an extremely high retention rate, over 90 percent, when avid anglers introduce someone to the sport. That’s because avid anglers have the personal knowledge, equipment and desire to deliver a quality experience. By inviting someone with whom they feel comfortable spending a day on the water, they are basically pre-qualifying who they are taking in the first place.  The ‘someone’ can be any acquaintance – friends, neighbors, coworkers – we all know somebody who’d like to go,” Matthews added.   

The RBFF-administered national Take Me Fishing advertising campaign will stay on strategy to target lapsed and occasional anglers, a sizeable audience at approximately 34.5 million, reminding them of the fun of fishing and boating. The new Anglers’ Legacy element will focus on reaching and motivating the country’s most avid anglers, estimated at 7.5 million, to invite former or non-participants to join them for a day on the water.

The dynamics of avid anglers playing a role in engaging non-participants surfaced when annual Take Me Fishing campaign evaluation surveys revealed the campaign was resonating equally well with avid anglers and the target audience. The discovery prompted a series of online surveys of avid anglers about their interest and willingness in contributing to the future of fishing by sharing their passion with someone they know.

Over 90 percent of the survey respondents said they believe mentoring others in fishing is a good thing to do and that they would be willing be do so if asked. Nearly 78 percent said they own boats, and 82 percent of them said they would welcome first-timers aboard.

The strategy of bridging the gap between the lapsed and avid target audiences has the fishing and boating community buzzing. Much of the excitement is coming from RBFF’s ongoing whistle-stop tour in which Anglers’ Legacy presentations are being made to top fishing and boating manufacturers. Nearly 30 companies have been met with to date and 100 percent pledged their support. Especially rewarding is the fact that so many major competitors are lining up side by side in unprecedented unity to support and advocate for the program.

Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association president and CEO, says he is not surprised by the response. “Anglers’ Legacy speaks directly to an audience that our members know and understand – the active participants,” he explained. “Avid anglers are going fishing more and spending more, so the logic of getting them involved in the recruitment of new participants makes great sense. We all know the potential for growth in this industry is remarkable. We are extremely encouraged by so many getting on board in support of the program right from the start,” Nussman said.

Thom Dammrich, National Marine Manufacturers Association president, agrees. “I’m pleased to see so many boat manufacturers already supporting the Anglers’ Legacy program,” he said.  “Fishing enthusiasts comprise a large and important segment of the boating market.  With such a high percentage of avid anglers saying they own a boat and that they would introduce people to fishing from their boats, Anglers’ Legacy not only will provide quality and positive introductory experiences to fishing, but to boating as well.  Anglers’ Legacy will effectively complement both Discover Boating and Take Me Fishing consumer outreach programs,” Dammrich added. 

Anglers’ Legacy was selected as the name for the program through a three-tier online survey of avid anglers and focus groups held in Tampa, Chicago and Tulsa, Okla.  In each case, Anglers’ Legacy was the preferred choice.

From the earliest concept of Anglers’ Legacy, manufacturers were deemed critical to the program’s success because of their leverage on everything from advertising to pro staffs to tournament sponsorships. Every Anglers’ Legacy presentation made to a manufacturer is concluded with the same two specific requests: permission to include their company names and signatures on the Anglers’ Legacy Declaration of Unity, and access to their pro staffs and various sponsorships for the purpose of message training.

The Declaration of Unity is a frame-quality document that is customized by magazine title and sent to each name on a long list of influential fishing and boating publications. Backed by 28 of the fishing and boating industries biggest advertisers, the Declaration is a formal ask of the endemic publications to run the Anglers’ Legacy print campaign as pro bono public service announcements for the good of all-industry.

Follow up to the mailing has just begun, but early responses from the magazines have all been very positive about cooperation.  “It is extremely gratifying to see the sincere interest by publishers wanting to join this industry-wide effort,” Matthews said. “We can’t say ‘thank you’ loud and often enough to express just how appreciative we are of their giving valuable space to help deliver the Anglers’ Legacy message ... we couldn’t do it without them.”

The PSAs are available in six creative executions: northern lakes, bass, coldwater fly fishing, saltwater flats, saltwater near shore, and Each features a montage of nostalgic fishing photos appropriate to the type of fishing and has the headline, “Picture a life without fishing.” The public service message is the same on each: “Give back what you’ve been given and take someone fishing.”

The publications that run the print materials will be recognized for their support at special luncheons held in their honor among peers and advertisers at both ICAST and IBEX. The magazines will also be given the opportunity to direct market to avid anglers that opt-in to receive promotional information at

Because fishing pros and celebrities have such a high degree of influence on avid anglers, they, too, have a critical role in the Anglers’ Legacy mobilization effort. Through manufacturers’ influences, pro and celebrity anglers are being asked to conscientiously and consistently deliver the simple message – take someone fishing – at every opportunity. As guidance for what to say and when, the RBFF developed the Anglers’ Legacy “Hymnal.”

The hymnal is a small, pocket-sized booklet with boating and fishing statistics, anecdotal suggestions and situational guidelines to help manufacturers’ highest-profile ambassadors deliver the three primary Anglers’ Legacy messages:

1.      Give back what you’ve been given – the gift of fishing

2.      Take someone you know out on the water

3.      Get connected to the cause by taking the pledge at

“The ultimate goal of the Anglers’ Legacy effort is to reach every avid angler in the United States who consumes any kind of fishing/boating media with the ‘take someone fishing’ message,” said Kirk Gillis, RBFF director of marketing and public relations. “We’ll be driving them to the program’s website, The website is to serve as the primary communication arm for Anglers’ Legacy participants,” he said.

At, avid anglers will be asked to take “the pledge,” a promise to take at least one new person fishing each year. Through a partnership with the shooting industry’s successful Step Outside program, the website provides avid anglers with proven tools and information on being a successful mentor.  The site also provides opportunities for avid anglers to identify and make contact with organizations in their community that provide fishing education and instruction. Community clubs and organizations are also being invited to list their organizations on, to help facilitate anglers and groups finding each other for mutually beneficial relationships. 

The Anglers’ Legacy program is built on simplicity in both form and function. The program leverages and unites assets already in place around a common and simple message that every industry, government and conservation organization can easily support and further empower through the use of their name or brand. The Take Me Fishing and Anglers’ Legacy programs will increase fishing license sales, increase tackle sales and increase boat sales. With increased participation, everybody wins.

“The fishing and boating community has good reason to be buzzing about what’s going on at the consumer level to increase participation,” Gillis said. “The Take Me Fishing ads are proving highly successful at creating awareness and interest among lapsed and non-participants, and the Discover Boating program is off to a very successful start. Anglers’ Legacy complements these national programs by providing opportunities for people to receive a positive introductory experience from someone they know.  Our stakeholders see the logic in the program’s simplicity and we are thrilled with their overwhelming support. By working together, we will move the participation needle and lot faster and farther.”

The RBFF was formed in 1997 by congressional action to address the trend in declining angler and boater participation.  For more information about the RBFF, Take Me Fishing and Anglers’ Legacy, visit, or call 703-519-0013.

Kirk Gillis


For further information: Stephanie Vatalaro,, 703-778-5156