Every month or so a copy of a magazine, Fishing
Tackle Retailer hits our mail box. It is published
by ESPN. Quite often the magazine will feature new
products we haven't seen and the magazine's editor,
Deb Johnson seems to keep an eye out for legislation
which impacts fishing and hunting too. Keith Jackson,
Port Townsend, WA who posts on the Bulletin Board here
is a Senior Writer for the magazine as well.
The February issue has an interesting editorial, entitled
"Losing Ground, And No Wonder." Losing ground refers
to the dropping numbers of fishing licenses with
numbers given from 2001 to 2002. A couple years
lag it appears, but I have no argument with the
premise of dropping numbers of anglers.
In the editorial, according to Don Gabelhouse at
the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission the reasons
not only include drought, but "poor economic times,"
an increase in license fees, and pointed out the
largest decrease (2/3) came from the counties with
the largest and fastest-growing populations. He
says, "In urban areas, it is easier to find things
to do other than go fishing."
While you are pondering that, the Kansas Dept of
Wildlife and Parks also raised license fees and
saw a drop in licensees sold as well. (Well,
somebody has to pay the bills, so raise the prices
to those who still fish! Same thing here in our state
Editor Deb Johnson says, "Natural causes - be it
drought one year, flood the next - mask the fact
that fishing isn't as popular as it used to be."
She goes on to comment that, "Millions of dollars
in Sport Fish Restoration funds are being spent each
year on the Water Works Wonders program to raise
public awareness of sportfishing and boating." She
wonders if, "would we have taken a much larger hit
in license holders without the promotional efforts?
Possibly: I don't have an answer to that question,
and I don't know of anyone who could honestly say
one way or the other."
She strongly urges retailers to use the free materials
available through the Water Works Wonders program
(http://www.waterworkswonders.org), because "we don't
have a better chance of reversing the negative
I have several concerns. We were contacted several
years ago by the RBFF (Recreational Boating and
Fishing Foundation) and asked to bid (with a complete
proforma) on the website for the Foundation. We
declined. They are, I believe, now on the 3rd
re-design of the website. I wonder how much that
cost. While the money which funds the Foundation
comes from boating and fishing, it is our/your
excise tax money paid on everything for fishing or
The current Water Works Wonders campaign is a series
of ads in magazines, some on television (which we
haven't seen) and some banners for websites, and even
bill board ads. Of the current series, all but one
have a boat in the photo. Some of those images are
used in this article.
I thought about the editorial for several days, went
through the Water Works Wonders website, and finally
sent her a respectful email.
I explained my concerns about the program as it exists,
and the fact that the changes in American families may
have more to do with the perceived problem than anything
With the divorce rate at 50%, the number of single
parent families is staggering. Single dads may take
a kid fishing, but how many single mom's are going
to buy a boat to take their kids either boating or
fishing? The money simply isn't there.
Grandpa and Uncle are no where to be seen - the 'extended'
families are now spread across the world - not across the
street or town. Fishing, or fly fishing specifically
is just not part of the family corporate memory of the
majority of American families.
I personally believe our best bet to get kids into
fishing is through the schools. There are some
programs with decent funding - more on that another
time, and we've been involved with a few individual
teachers who have set up classroom programs and have
had great success. Perhaps we need to find a way
to do more of exactly that. Kathy Scott in Maine
has a success story which she shared with us here:
of Fingerlings. She has offered to help others
wishing to start such programs.
What do you think the RBFF should be spending your
money on? How would you bring new people into fishing
(not just fly fishing). Is there something which has
been done in your local which works? What do you see
as the future of our sport?
These are serious questions. I hope you will take some
time to ponder them, and post your thoughts on the
Bulletin Board. ~ The LadyFisher
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!