NATIONWIDE—The nation’s 49 million anglers spend nearly $50 billion on fishing gear and trips, according to a report recently published by the American Sportfishing Association, or ASA.
The $49.8 billion spent on fishing gear and trips is more than Americans spend on Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day combined, according to the ASA report. Anglers outspend those three holidays by $4.4 billion.
ASA’s report hailed the nation’s 49 million anglers as a “formidable economic force” and a population showing no signs of slowing down.
Anglers, in 2016, spent an average of $130 per fishing trip.
“While the $49.8 billion spent annually by anglers is impressive, it’s only part of the economic picture painted by anglers,” the ASA report stated. “When recreational anglers spend money on goods, retailers need to restock their shelves to replace the items purchased. Wholesalers respond, and manufacturers then produce more product.
“This economic activity multiplies the effect of anglers’ spending,” the ASA report continued. “In the end, the billions of dollars spent by anglers changes hands over and over and, in the process, supports a wide variety of jobs and generates tax revenue for localities, states and the federal government. From people working directly in the fishing industry, such as tackle shop employees, guides and boat builders, to people who may not even know they benefited from recreational fishing, such as truck drivers, store clerks and hotel staff.”
The ASA report added the lives of more than 800,000 people were “enhanced by recreational fishing.”
Fishing and boating, according to the ASA report, are the “second greeted contribution to the outdoor sector. The report also stated consumers spend more on outdoor recreation than pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and other major product categories.
Freshwater fishing appears to be the most popular venue for anglers, according to the ASA report. The report found 84.1 percent of anglers went fishing in a freshwater lake or river. Nearly 1 in 4 anglers (24 percent) went offshore (saltwater) fishing. Fishing in the Great Lakes accounted for 5.1 percent of anglers, according to the ASA report. Clearly there were some anglers who were both freshwater and saltwater enthusiasts.
ASA also looked at the individual expenditures of the U.S. angler and found $21.7 billion was spent on travel expenditures (food, lodging, airfare, bate, ice, basic boat expenses). The next largest category was special equipment purchases for fishing ($13.5 billion). Cabins, canoes, 4×4 vehicles, boat trailers, hitches and campers were among the expenses included within this category.
Fishing equipment expenditures ($7.4 billion) was the next category where anglers sponge money. Included within this category were rods, reels, lines, leaders, hooks, sinkers, tackle boxes, bait buckets, depth finders and ice fishing gear, among other items.
Anglers also spent $3.4 billion on camping gear, binoculars and special clothing. Fishing licenses, books and magazines, tags, permits and other miscellaneous expenditures accounted for $3.5 billion.
All the categories combined for $49.8 billion of expenditures.
Random Facts About U.S. Anglers
Factoids and Numbers
49 million Number of anglers nationwide
39.5 million Estimated population of California, largest U.S. state
35.8 million Number of anglers nationwide, age 16 and older
23.8 million Number of golfers
18.1 million Number of tennis players
$14.8 billion Spending on Saltwater fishing
11 percent Growth, freshwater participation since 2011
3.8 percent Growth, outdoor recreational economy (2016)
2.8 percent Growth, overall economy (2016)
Jogging Outdoor Activity More Popular than Fishing
Source: American Sportfishing Association