Fishing Industry Statistics

Here are some fishing industry facts, national and Florida including statistics on participation by women.

Click HERE for our ICAST 2019 Powerpoint presentation on women and fishing

Facts about Recreational Fishing, New from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA)

Recreational fishing is the nation’s second most popular outdoor activity after jogging.

Nearly 1 in 7 Americans take to the water with rod and reel in hand each year.

Since 2011, freshwater fishing participation grew 11 percent and Great Lakes fishing grew 9.5 percent.

Spending for saltwater fishing ($14 billion) is more than twice what ($5.8 billion) Americans spent on services for their pets.

More Americans fish than play golf (23.8 million) and tennis (18.1 million) combined.

If sportfishing was its own corporation, it would rank #54 on the Fortune 500 List, ahead of Cisco Systems.

Over twice as many people fished in 2016 than attended every NFL game combined


There are more anglers in the U.S. than golfers and tennis players combined. – ASA

There are approximately 60 million anglers in the U.S. of which 46 million are estimated to fish in a given year. Recreational fishing has a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Overall fishing participation grew to 47 million in 2017, helping RBFF near its goal of “60 in 60” — having 60 million anglers over the course of 60 months. In the last five years, participation was up 8.2 percent, and in the last 10 years, it was up 20 percent. Soundings Trade Only Feb. 2018

47% of first-time fishing participants are female. ASA

There are 16.8 million boats in use on U.S. waterways.

Florida ranks number one in terms of numbers of adult anglers. Recreational fishing in Florida is so popular that 1 out of every 4 trips in the U.S. occurs in Florida (CCA). California and Texas rank second and third, respectively. 60% of recreational fish caught in the U.S. are caught in FL (NMFS)

Top 10 boat sale states are also the top 10 fishing states: FL, MI, TX, MN, CA, WI, LA, NC, NY AND SC.

Boating and Fishing Economics:

Recreational fishing contributes more than $115 billion to the U.S. economy, including $48 billion spent on fishing equipment, supporting 828,000 jobs in the U.S.

The nation’s recreational anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales and the $115 billion economic impact has created more than 800,000 jobs in the manufacturing, sale or provision of tackle and other fishing gear, along with the hospitality industry and boat builders. 2017 ASA/NMFS

If it were a “corporation,” sportfishing would rank #51 in the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest businesses in terms or revenue, placing fishing above Intel and Google.

In Florida, the fishing industry contributes more dollars to the state’s economy than the citrus industry (CCA).

Recreational fishing creates salaries and wages totaling about $35 billion, which is roughly equivalent to almost half of the United States’ military payroll.

Recreational fishing contributes $15 billion in federal income taxes, which equates to nearly a third of the entire federal budget for agriculture. The sport contributes $1.45 billion for fisheries conservation efforts.

Overall fishing participation grew to 47 million in 2017, helping RBFF near its goal of “60 in 60” — having 60 million anglers over the course of 60 months.Soundings Trade Only Feb. 2018


Women represent the largest emerging market within the fishing industry.

67% of anglers are male, 33% are female.

The top three reasons people fish are for relaxation, to be close to nature and to spend time with friends and family.

60 percent of recent boat buyers cite fishing as primary boat use.

Florida residents buy 1.9 saltwater licenses for each freshwater license sold, 1/3 of all licenses are bought by non residents. Anglers with household income 20% greater than national average are more likely to prefer saltwater fishing (License Analysis, ASA)

Women make up about 31 percent of the 6.5 million Americans who fly-fish, according to the most recent study by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. In 2016, more than two million women participated in the sport, an increase of about 142,000 from the previous year.

From Rob Southwick about value of new anglers: New anglers are expected to bring in $3,650 minimum in new tackle sales. This is kind of low as many new anglers will quit after 3-5 years. Those who stay for life bring in about 5x that amount. We don’t know the fresh vs saltwater split, but saltwater anglers spend about 10% more annually given greater need for boats and replacing gear in the salt air.

Please note: These statistics are provided by outside sources. If there is any question of accuracy or updates needed, please contact the source.