The Outdoor Foundation and its partner, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) unveiled new research showing fishing remains a top gateway activity, spurring involvement in other outdoor pursuits.

The 2010 Special Report on Fishing and Boating, conducted by The Outdoor Foundation and RBFF, details information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. The Report revealed that of the 48 million anglers in the United States, 41 million are participating in freshwater fishing, an increase of two percent over last year. Other key findings include:


  • Fishing is recognized as the top “gateway” activity, spurring involvement in other outdoor interests; 

  • Nearly 10 million outdoor enthusiasts are considering boat ownership;

  • 'Next-gen' anglers, those under 18 years of age, make up more than 23 percent of all fishing participants.

“The future of any sport lies in engaging its youngest members, so reaching individuals in their early years is critical,” said The Outdoor Foundation Executive Director Christine Fanning. “The Special Report includes some important insights to motivating not only youth, but also adult participation in fishing and boating.”

Additional Key Findings:

  • 7.3 percent of all Americans over age 16 (approximately 20.5 million) own a boat. 

  • In 2009, more than 50 million participants (17.9 percent of Americans) age 16 and older went boating. This resulted in a total of 705 million boating days in 2009, with 21 average annual days spent on the water.

  • In 2009, fishing participants made 996 million outings (down slightly from one billion in 2008).

“Although overall participation is down slightly from 2008, we're delighted to see that freshwater fishing, which is by far the most popular type of fishing in the U.S., has been able to reverse a two-year downward trend into a one-year positive increase in participation,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “This Special Report is full of valuable information to help stakeholders shape their future marketing and education programs.”

The methodology and full study is available online at