AT Survey: Do We Really Want to Grow Angler Numbers?


10_15_grown#sOne of the points of discussion at the AFFTA summit (and one that comes up regularly, including in a feature we ran in the October print issue of Angling Trade) is what we, as an industry, are doing to “grow the sport?”  In other words, what are we doing to attract new participants to the sport of fly fishing?

But maybe we should ask first whether or not we really want to grow the sport.  Have you floated through the drift-boat traffic jams on a famous river recently.  Of course, with an aging demographic, fly fishing does need to recruit newer, younger blood.  But if and when we were able to increase overall participation numbers, would that be good?  Or would we be better served to do more with the faithful audience we have, and sustain the sport at present levels?

We’re asking YOU…

Do you think the industry, as a whole, should invest more time and dollars into recruiting new participants to the sport of fly fishing?

AT Survey: Do We Really Want to Grow Angler Numbers?

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  1. There seems to be such a heavy focus on bringing new anglers to the sport. I wonder if a wider emphasis should be on retention of anglers. I would be very curious to see data relevant to license renewals vs. first time buyers as well as any other relevant data points that might give us a glimpse related to angler turnover. Tough to grow the sport when so many do not participate with regularity or stop fishing all together.

  2. More anglers with ethical training. Not Joe beer slammer who leaves his crap laying all over the banks. More anglers but better management of our rivers and lakes. Maybe do a permit system where only a allowable number of anglers can fish a particular stretch of water at a time, sorry to say, this is the only way you will be able to control numbers.

  3. Jim Dushin on

    I started fly fishing by my dads side when I was six years old back in 1958 on the Amawalk in New York. My question is why do we have to grow it, and more importantly for what purpose are we growing it? Is the reason for growing it to allow more people to make money off it? Or is it to have more money in the pot to help safe guard the resource?

    I guess for me, if you are really asking the question, then we probably know that we are quickly approaching the point where the experience is being seriously compromised, other wise you would not ask the question. Unfortunately, when you make money the main driving piece of any equation, you will consistently get the wrong answer.

    Last Saturday afternoon on the Missouri – I counted 40+ boats between Wolf Creek and Craig – seriously it is the end of October not June or July. This will be the first year in last 30 years that I will not hit 50 visits to the Missouri River. Mainly because I gave up fishing in July and August – too crowded.

    You have to be careful about growth it can be a tricky game. I agree whole heartily with John and Adam in their statements above. We should be working harder to retain the people we have and teaching ethics to the new group.

  4. Paul Martini on

    The survey asks a wrong or incomplete question. It’s not about adding more anglers. It’s about adding more angling opportunities. Continuing conservation focus on issues like habitat rehabilitation and enhancement provide more and new places to fish. As an industry, we can champion targeting broader fish species opportunities (who fly fished for carp 10 years ago?). Through our multiple volunteer wildlife advocacy groups and with industry support, we can present more opportunities for anglers. This is the growth opportunity for the business.

  5. I believe that we are beginning to reach a point where the quality of the angling experience is being compromised by crowding in places that are accessible to weekend warriors…the very people that we’re trying to bring into the sport. This is a multi-faceted issue that sees a great deal of its roots in the social media world, where anglers and shops are promoting fisheries in real-time to legions of followers hoping for business benefits that really aren’t tangible.

    I’ve seen the quality of experience go downhill considerably in many places I frequent, both near and far, over the past 5 years – and most of my fishing partners say the same thing. Places that used to be “locals only” or “under the radar” have become almost as widely publicized and pressured as perennial hot spots. This year I’ve curtailed my fishing to probably less than 50 days, whereas in the past I would hit 125+ easily. Lets face it – fishing is not an experience that is improved by having more people surrounding you.

    The industry needs to focus less on bringing in more and more people to utilize resources which are rapidly diminishing, and instead focus on retaining the current group of anglers – providing new experiences and learning opportunities to those individuals. You’re losing people that have been dedicated to the sport for 20+ years in favor of people that are chasing fads – not a great long term plan for success.

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