Study Paints Portrait of the Occasional Angler; Access, Fishing Quality and Convenience Must Improve to Keep Them Coming Back Year After Year


From Southwick Associates:

Young anglers, female anglers and fishermen in urban areas are most likely to go years without fishing regardless of where in the country they live, a follow-up report commissioned by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has revealed. The report, developed from a study on angler churn rates performed by Southwick Associates, does however highlight some regional differences in today’s anglers.

•    Fishing participation is growing in roughly one-third of all states. Between 2004 and 2013, 17 states saw angler numbers climb, while the rest experienced declines or remained steady.
•    More people travel to the West to fish, with 29 percent of non-resident angling licenses sold.
•    Anglers in the Northeast and Midwest are more likely to remain active, with more than 20 percent of anglers buying a license 5 out of 5 years.
•    Regionally, the rate of not renewing fishing licenses is highest in the Southeast (53 percent) and lowest in the Midwest (28 percent).

“We know the primary reasons why people fish is to have fun with friends and family in an outdoor setting,” Rob Southwick, Southwick Associates’ president said “This latest research shows that, with some regional differences, younger anglers, women and urbanites are more likely to find other ways to achieve these benefits besides fishing.  If fishing participation is to grow, we need to ensure fishing provides these benefits conveniently and competitively.”

By identifying those groups most apt to sit out of fishing for a year or more, the opportunity exists to craft programs to get them re-engaged with fishing and/or improve their fishing experiences.

“I think the most important thing we’ve discovered is that our challenge may not be as much about getting people to take up fishing as it is keeping people fishing from year-to-year,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. He noted that after buying a license one year, approximately 15 million people-almost half of all anglers-do not buy one the following year. Nussman noted how important it is for game and fish agencies, as well angling organizations, to work together to improve access, fishing quality and convenience in order to entice more anglers to buy a license every year.

In developing their findings, Southwick Associates examined 12 states across the country, selected for their regional representation, and looked at license purchase data over a 10-year period from 2004 to 2013 and a 5-year period from 2009 to 2013. The states selected to create a nationally representative portrait of anglers included Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Wisconsin.

For copies of the executive summary or the full report, visit

About Southwick Associates:  Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets.  Celebrating 25 years in 2015, Southwick Associates is renowned for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics assisting business and strategic decisions across the entire outdoor industry; from government agencies, industry associations and non-profit organizations, to affiliated businesses and manufacturers.  Aside from custom market research, and economic impact studies, Southwick also provides syndicated participation, media consumption, and equipment purchase tracking studies utilizing their three proprietary sportsmen panels.  Visit for more information.


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