In the United States, the fishing industry is a major institution of economic power. There are 60 million people who say they participate in the sport of fishing each year. That’s more than the number of people who play tennis and golf combined. Over 50% of the people who say they go fishing prefer bass fishing, which means the U.S. has about 30 million active participants in the sport.
That creates an industry which is worth $60 billion. 20% of Americans say that they have gone fishing at least once in the past year, with 43% of fishermen saying that they were pursuing black bass during their trip.
In the United States, the typical freshwater angler seeking bass is 42 years old, earns a household income of $60,000 per year, and is married. They own 14 rods/reels, a bass boat, and spends more than $2,300 on the sport each year.
Important Bass Fishing Industry Statistics
#1. The economic impact of bass fishing in the United States, including economic output and indirect contributions, is more than $115 billion each year. (Bassmaster)
#2. In California, there are more than 64,000 anglers who spend over $54 million each year in the state. (Bassmaster)
#3. Over 828,000 jobs are directly supported in some way by the bass fishing industry in the United States. Anglers also generate over $48 billion in retail sales because of their fishing activities. (Bassmaster)
#4. Since 1980, the price of a bass fishing license in the U.S. has risen from $5 to $47. As a consequence, the number of fishing licenses which have been issued has dropped by 55% over the same time period. (Bassmaster)
#5. Since 2006, the number of anglers who say that they are going bass fishing has risen by 11%. (Reel Adventure Fishing)
#6. More anglers are in Florida than in any other state. Over 3.1 million people say that they go fishing, which creates a total spending of $4.95 billion each year. Over 80,000 jobs are created in Florida alone thanks to fishing activities. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
#7. 12% of American households say that they partake in fishing or hunting activities regularly. (Statista)
#8. There are 11.6 million youth participants who go fishing at least once per year in the United States. (Statista)
#9. 29.7 million paid fishing license holders are counted in the U.S. each year, which is notable because that means 1 in 2 people who say they go fishing may be doing so without the proper license. (Statista)
#10. 20% of Americans bought either fishing gear or hunting gear in the last year, with the average annual expense for the gear totaling $52. (Statista)
#11. 21% of anglers who take fishing trips say that they do so alone. (Statista)
#12. 52% of Americans say that they fish at the shoreline. About 1 in 3 anglers will go fishing between 4-11 times over the course of the year. (Statista)
#13. 42% of anglers say that they released a fish that they caught during their fishing trip. (Statista)
#14. 24% of fishing participants say that being close to nature is one of the most appealing aspects of going on a fishing trip. (Statista)
#15. In 2010, sportfishing tackle excise taxes accounted for $390 million in revenues within the United States. Another $403 million in private donates, along with $657 million contributed through licensing fees, allowed for about $1.5 billion in funding for fisheries and conservation efforts. (American Sportfishing Association)
#16. To support their bass fishing habits, the average angler spends over $1,400 on fuel, hotel rooms, and restaurant meals over the course of the year. In 2011, that led to the indirect support of more than $35 billion in salaries. (American Sportfishing Association)
#17. Florida is the top state as a non-resident fishing destination, supporting 1.2 million non-resident anglers per year. Michigan is the next popular destination, with 347,000 non-resident anglers. These states are followed by Wisconsin (336,000), North Carolina (328,000), and Alaska (327,000). (American Sportfishing Association)
#18. If fishing were its own company, the amount that is spent by anglers each year would rank it 51st on the Fortune 500 list. (American Sportfishing Association)
#19. Fishing generates more revenues that Google, Chrysler, or Lockheed Martin per year, according to 2011 figures that were released. (American Sportfishing Association)
#20. The FLW Outdoors College Series has over 700 registered bass clubs today, up from just 90 a few years ago. There are 8,000 student anglers who compete in 17 annual events within the organization, which includes a national championship. (Gear Patrol)
#21. The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series has another 235 registered clubs and over 1,100 registered student anglers. (Gear Patrol)
#22. About 1% of the 8,000 anglers which participate in college bass fishing events will eventually make it into the professional leagues. Money is one of the biggest obstacles that student anglers face. You need a boat, your own equipment, and the financing necessary to get to and from tournaments. (Gear Patrol)
#23. In 2016, the 9 pro Bassmaster Elite Series events had a $658,000 purse. Winners got to take home $100,000. Every angler placing through 52nd place won at least $10,000 from the event. In total, there are 111 fishermen that are currently active in that series. (Gear Patrol)
#24. The top 50 in the Bassmaster Elite Series earn between $80,000 to $100,000 annually. Many are struggling weekend fishermen who max out their credit cards to pay the entry fees. (Gear Patrol)
Bass Fishing Industry Trends and Analysis
The bass fishing industry is one of the strongest sports-related industries in the United States. Although the number of issued fishing licenses is going down, the number of people who count themselves as anglers is going up.
To offset the cost of fishing licenses for some families, some states in the U.S. have begun to issue free fishing days, weekends, or weeks to encourage more local outdoor activities. Although anglers don’t need to pay for the license during these free periods, they are still required to document whatever fish they catch per local laws. Not doing so can incur a fine, which may still keep some anglers away.
There is one issue of concern for the industry. The average age of an angler continues to rise. Although 1 in 6 anglers is a minor, the number of children aging into adulthood that maintain their love of bass fishing is declining. If that is a trend which continues, there could be millions of dollars in losses and thousands of jobs cut out of the economy.
For the next 5 to 10 years, however, expect the bass fishing industry to continue growing at the 2% to 4% pace that it has experienced for the past decade.