Occasionally something shows up in the snail
mail which really is interesting; mostly getting
any mail at all is in itself interesting, small
towns can be fun.
This week brought a six-year report on American
Recreation Participation from the Outdoor
Industry Association. The lead paragraph of
the report, "Reaching 145.7 million Americans, the
outdoor recreation population has grown larger,
younger, and become more dedicated over a six-year
Still quoting, "An analysis of outdoor recreation
behavior in 21 human-powered activities performed
by Americans 16 and over, the Study focuses on the
growth of casual "participants" as well as devoted
"enthusiasts" since 1998.
Adding 16 million new faces since 1998, outdoor
"participants" now compromise two-thirds of the
national population. Within that group, outdoor
"enthusiasts" have surged more than 25 percent to
46.8 million people, indicating a shift toward
more frequent and more dedicated outdoor use."
The total report, 267 pages in length, covers
everything from bicycling to rafting and nordic
Some of the interesting items which are relative
to our sport - it has been pretty much 'flat' for
the last two years, figuring a downturn in the economy
and 9/11 travel for fishing was down for last year
as well. The good news is travel to fish and for fishing
vacations is up. Which perhaps indicates a comfort
level with the current terrorism threats.
The study considers "participants" as people who
went fly fishing at least once during the year
(13 million). "Enthusiasts" as those who went
15 times or more (2.5 million). Both based on
over 16 year olds.
The study claims 26% of fly fishing "participants"
are female, with about 5% being "enthusiasts."
From my personal experience, observation and the
stat programs on FAOL, the numbers of total female
participating in fly fishing is closer to 8%.
This seems to be the only area where we are
divided on our data.
The study also shows households with children at
about 50% in fly fishing which the study projects
as an indication of a fertile future for fly fishing.
I sure hope so, but the competition with TV, Internet
and Video games is so blatant in their face, it is
going to take some real work to get the kids out of
the house. And in my opinion, the millions spent by
the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation
(your excise tax money) has been mostly wasted.
Something very surprising - the greatest majority
of fly fishers live in the south, followed by
the west! In the South, participants 35%,
enthusiasts 34%. The common and popular assumption
is that all the 'serious' fly fishers are in the east.
The figures for the Northeast? Participants 20%,
enthusiasts 17%. Just so you don't feel felt out,
Northcentral: Participants 20%, enthusiasts 24%.
In the West, Participants 25%, enthusiasts 26%.
Those numbers should be of particular interest
to fly fishing manufacturers and where they are
directing their marketing.
Looking at the report from the fly fishers view,
things are stable but the number of folks fishing
is about what it was in 2001. The number of people
involved in outdoor recreation is up - I mentioned
adventure/sports travel which took a nose drive
following 9/11 - that is up 14% in 2002 and up
39.1% since 2001.
Having two-thirds of the American population
involved in any outdoor activity means more
people are aware of the world around them and
we hope that translates into doing the right
thing in being stewards of the environment.
As often happens, technology from one sport
translates into new products in other sports
as well. Who knows what neat goodies will appear.
We do need new people in fly fishing. The age
of the "enthusiasts" is 50% over 40. 12% are
over 60. Our stats show the average age of folks
coming into fly fishing at 45. (It was 47 when
we started). We try and make the transition from
spin to fly fishing as easy as possible with our
Fly Fishing 101 section, and those new folks
who find our Bulletin Board are generally treated
with care and respect by the other readers.
Unfortunately that isn't always true on other
websites where the trout elite rule. They may
be very shocked to learn they are in the minority!
I've just scratched the surface on this report - I
will get back to you when I've absorbed more.
At the very least, it sure is interesting... ~ DLB
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!