Editor’s Log: Fishing, By The Numbers - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Fishing, By The Numbers

During the first week in October I had the opportunity to attend a recreational fishing conference presented by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).  Held every year at rather ritzy locations (this one overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Miramar Beach, FL) around the country, the multi-day “ASA Summit” is where tackle manufacturers, retailers and outdoor media types gather to discuss the state of the recreational fishing industry in America.

While ASA is essentially a sportfishing trade association, it’s important to keep in mind that this particular industry can’t be successful without satisfied anglers getting every possible opportunity they can to fish; while it’s readily safe to assume all Americans will need insurance, pharmaceuticals or education at some point in their lives, for the recreational fishing industry to survive it’s critical that customers want to participate, buying more tackle to catch more fish.

I sat through hours of meetings about the sportfishing industry, and brought home a lot of valuable data.  Statistically speaking, these were some my favorite figures delivered by ASA in their 2023 Trade Insights & Market Report compiled by the Southwick Associates.  Based on survey data compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 40 million Americans went fishing in 2022 and they spent some cash in the process!

In terms of overall tackle sales in 2022, the total figure topped $8 billion which the folks at Southwick Associates broke it down as follows:

  • Rods & Reels                          $3.27 billion
  • Other                                       $1.30 billion
  • Lures & Terminal Tackle        $1.20 billion
  • Electronics                              $835 million
  • Line                                         $583 million
  • Fly Fishing                              $469 million
  • Apparel                                   $389 million

Roughly 80% of all retail sales in America comes from brick and mortar locations, and just 10% online (I think the missing 10% comes from me raiding my father’s tackle shed).  On the saltwater side, 28% of sales come from local shops and 28% of tackle is sold through outdoor specialty shops, whereas 21% comes from big box stores and another 20% from general sporting good outlets.

Another collection of statistics that I found very interesting last month was the breakdown of targeted fish species by American anglers.  On the freshwater side, the 2022 numbers for top five favorite species to target in the sweetwater weren’t too surprising:

Catfish                                                 35.3%
Largemouth/spotted bass                32.7%
Smallmouth bass                                27.1%
Trout                                                      27%
Panfish (crappie, bluegill, etc.)          22.7%

For saltwater anglers the top five most targeted species in American according to information shared at the ASA Summit were as follows:

Redfish, channel bass                        20.6%
Flounder (fluke)                                  15.2%
Grouper, snapper, sea bass               11.9%
Spotted trout or weakfish                   11.1%
Bluefish                                                  10.9 %

Yeah, I know what you’re wondering – where’s striped bass fit in?  Well, on the freshwater side it came up in the14% range right after panfish, while saltwater anglers tabbed striped bass as 11th in the list (8.7%) following snook, black drum, salmon, mackerel and perch.

It’s hard to think of anything else but striped bass right now, but even in The Fisherman’s own reader survey compiled annually shows fluke consistently ranking #1 with our readers (99% importance rate), followed by striped bass (98%), black sea bass (95%), weakfish (91%) and then bluefish (90%).

Despite statistics proving otherwise, as we head into the month of November at the Jersey Shore, striped bass is king of the hill right now.  So fish hard, and keep our national economy humming along!

NOAA Fisheries Opens Student Art Contest For Tuna

NOAA Fisheries is holding an annual art contest open to students from kindergarten through eighth grade to raise awareness about Atlantic highly migratory species (sharks, tunas, billfish, and swordfish) and their importance to healthy ecosystems. Winning artwork is featured in a yearly NOAA Fisheries calendar.

The 2024 Highly Migratory Species art contest will highlight Atlantic tunas with winning artwork featured in a 2025 Atlantic tunas calendar. All students from kindergarten through eighth grade from all U.S. states and territories in public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. Students may submit entries on their own or as part of a classroom, but must work individually.

Each entry must be composed of a piece of artwork and a title. All entries must meet the requirements below.

  1. Provide one entry per student.
  2. Create artwork on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, landscape.
  3. Use plain, white, non-glossy paper; do not laminate.
  4. Use any art medium (e.g., colored pencils, crayons, paint, markers).
  5. Hand draw all artwork.
  6. Ensure artwork is flat (e.g., no glued pieces or glitter) and able to be scanned.
  7. Do not include any personal information (name, location, or grade) on the front of the artwork.
  8. Write the student’s name, grade, school, and state on the back of the artwork in pencil.
  9. Avoid labeling items with any brand names, slogans, or in the artwork; limit text on the artwork.
  10. Provide a title for each artwork on the entry form.

Entries will be judged on the creativity, artistic presentation, and relevance to the art contest themes.  Download entry form and mail entry to:

Highly Migratory Species Art Contest

Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division


1315 East-West Highway,

Silver Spring, MD 20910

You can also attach high resolution JPEG, PNG, or TIFF (no larger than 18B) to an email sent to [email protected] (no later than December 15, 2023). Submissions become property of NOAA Fisheries.


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