Fishing Industry Statistics

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

Click HERE for new 2023 Stats on women and fishing

Click HERE for latest stats on women and fishing posted in Nov. 2022

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

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.

American Sportfishing Association 2021-2022 new economic impact: The outdoor recreation economy is nearing $1 trillion in economic value. With roughly 50 million anglers across the United States, recreational fishing is an important aspect of outdoor recreation. The new U.S. data shows that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 1.9 percent ($454.0 billion) of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) for the nation in 2021. Women now represent 37% of anglers.

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.

New for 2022: Women now represent 37% of the nation’s anglers

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, dates of the info vary. Some of the statics may be from past years however they still are interesting. If there is any question of accuracy or updates needed, please contact the source.