There was a recent survey/study regarding African
American and Hispanic participation in/and their
attitudes towards recreational boating and fishing.
The study was commissioned by the The Recreational
Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), your tax
dollars at work (you know that extra tax we all pay
on sporting goods). The idea is there is a growing
number in minority groups, especially Hispanics,
(which now outnumber the African Americans in the
US), and in order to market recreational boating and
fishing (all fishing, not fly fishing in particular)
to these groups the RBFF wanted to find out the
existing attitudes of these people toward boating
and fishing. Yes, in our touchy-feelie,
politically-correct world, we want to know attitudes
instead of causes.
Surveys and polls can be slanted to produce nearly
any preconceived result wanted, so I was very interested
in the questions asked. Here they are:
Words or Phrases That Describe Fishing
Unfortunately I don't have access to the number
of people who took the survey, nor the regions
where they lived. Both of which would seem to
have a substantial influence on the results.
Fun for men
Something to do with friends
Something to do with family
Gives people first hand experience of the outdoors
Educates children about the outdoors
One of the best outdoor activities
Promotes concern for the environment
Fun for women
Protects fish and wildlife
Takes too much time
Cleans up water pollution
The concern by the RBFF is there aren't enough new
people coming into boating and fishing. Since we
are part of the fly-fishing world the concern of
fly fishing manufactures is we have an aging group
of fly fishers - and if we don't attract young folks
to fly fishing eventually it will die off. Below
are the results of the survey.
It would seem to me there are multiple problems in
attracting new people to either boating or fishing.
The fly fishing industry certainly has made serious
attempts to bring women to fly fishing, and for the
most part the marketing directed at women has not
worked. Our demographics for FAOL show about 8% of
our readers are female. I'll leave why women don't
fly fish for another time, but it has been my experience
that most women who are active fly fishers were introduced
to it by a family member when they were young.
Back to the survey. Why do you fish? How many of the
questions on the survey relate to you? How would you
personally describe fishing?
The people who ran the survey also correlated the responses
and produced the 'answers.' Things like "The top association
made by both African-Americans and Hispanics is that
fishing is fun for men. On the other hand, both groups
doubt that fishing is something that is fun for women."
...and "Agreement with the idea fishing protects fish
and wildlife is low - just four out of ten Hispanics
and one out of three African-Americans say this phrase
describes fishing. Less than one-third believe fishing
cleans up water pollution."
So much for stewardship.
I suggest you read this study yourself - at:
I've had many conversations with folks concerned with
declining numbers in fishing. The reasons for the
decline vary from loss of fishing opportunities (as
the salmon here in the NW), high cost of equipment
and licenses, lack of access to water and lack of
When most of today's Baby Boomers were growing up, mother's
were at home. Divorce was not as prevalent, single-parent
households and latch-key kids were rare. Just how much
spare time, or money is available in single-parent
households today? Even two-parent households are
stretched to the breaking point financially and
time wise - and 99% of the mothers are working too.
(Thanks to out-of-control taxation most don't have a choice.)
In the African-American group 80% of the children being born
now are into single parent households.
Go fishing? Or boating? Who's got the money to buy a boat?
The granddads who may have taken their grandchildren
fishing in the past - the 'extended families' are
spread all across the country - or world. The
families are lucky to get together for Christmas.
Now we 'get together' by email, instant messanger and cell phone.
For those who have never fished, there may not be
any opportunities at all! No place to fish and
no one to teach them if they wanted to learn.
The idea that the RBFF is charged with, promoting,
marketing and bringing more people into boating and
fishing, certainly is admirable - but unfortunately
until there is real change in this country the best
bet isn't in recruiting minority groups or women.
It is teaching kids through the schools.
The RBFF has started a new program in 2003 which may
be the best way to bring new people to fishing - it
is grants to schools wanting to start
fishing programs. I could not find anything on this
on the RBFF website, even though it was part of the
"Stakeholder Survey" I received this past week. If
you are a teacher or school administrator I would
suggest you contact the RBFF directly, before the
money is gone:
601 N. Fairfax St., Suite 140
Alexandria, VA 22314
Restoring fishing to the popularity it had in years
past, where a constant growth rate was assured
and people passed their knowledge on to the younger
family members may be impossible. It is a different
world. There are however, deeper intrinsic values
to fishing which anyone's survey, no matter how carefully
crafted cannot measure. Those are the values we are
in danger of losing as the numbers of active anglers
Fly Anglers OnLine will continue to bring you the best
information we can. It is our way of keeping on. Your
assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to pass it on! ~ 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!