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Tuesday
Oct062015

Angler Drop-Out Rate Lower in Midwest, Northeast

Anglers in the Midwest and Northeast have a lower drop-out rate than anglers in the Southeast and West, according to a new report about recreational fishing.

This and other findings related to fishing participation are explained in "A Snapshot of the U.S. Angler Population by Region," the second in a series of studies produced for American Sportfishing Association (ASA) by Southwick Associates, which sheds new light on anglers’ fishing habits and loyalty to the sport. 

The study reveals that close to half of all fishing license buyers in any given year do not renew their licenses the following year.  But overall number of participants remains stable from year to year, at around 46 million, because about the same number of people both drop-in and drop-out of the sport from year to year.

“The new report underscores some of the challenges we already know about, but it also gives us more specific information to help pinpoint factors that keep people fishing, and that’s what we need going forward,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman.  “What keeps anglers fishing in the Midwest and not in the Southeast is information we can use to improve our marketing efforts to anglers who tend to lapse more.” 

Using this information, state agencies and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation plan to use a strategy called “R3” for targeted marketing to recruit, retain, and reactivate anglers. The overall goal is to reduce the amount of “churn,” a term that refers to anglers’ transitioning in and out of the sport from year to year.

What’s new?
The analysis includes a closer look at sportfishing participation, churn rates among various demographic groups, and fishing license purchasing habits among recruited, retained, and reactivated anglers.  

While  some significant differences exist among regions, findings in each region  were consistent with what was found nationally:  women, young people, and those who live in urban communities are more likely to lapse in their fishing from year to year.

Report highlights

Participation is growing slightly in about one-third of the states.  Between 2004 and 2013, 17 states experienced growth in the number of licensed anglers while the rest showed reductions.  Most of the states showing growth are in the West and Southeast. 

The West attracts the most non-resident anglers. Nonresidents comprise as much as 29 percent (West) and as little as 19 percent (Midwest and Southeast) of the licensed angler population (it’s 20 percent in the Northeast). Regardless of region, roughly 70 percent of all licensed non-resident anglers will buy a license in the same state in just one out of five years, though they may buy in other states in these other years.

Anglers are more avid in the Northeast and Midwest. More than 20 percent of anglers purchased a license five out of five years in the Northeast and Midwest—compared to just 8 percent and 16 percent of anglers in the Southeast and West, respectively.

The annual churn rate is highest in the Southeast and lowest in the Midwest. In the Southeast, the average annual churn rate is highest, at 53 percent, while its lowest, 28 percent, in the Midwest, considerably less than the national rate of 46 percent.  The rate is 39 percent in the West and 33 percent in the Northeast.

Regardless of region, the churn rate is highest among younger anglers.  The average annual churn rate is highest, with a range of 37-63 percent across all four regions, among licensed anglers between the ages of 18 and 24.  Licensed anglers aged 55 to 64 years old have the lowest churn rate of all age groups, with a range of 22-46 percent across all four regions. Nationally, annual churn rates by age group fall within these regional ranges.  

Regardless of region, the churn rate is higher among women.  The average annual churn rate among women is highest in the Southeast, where 64 percent of female anglers lapse in their fishing license renewals from year to year.  It’s lowest among women in the Midwest, at 41 percent.  The rate is 48 percent in the Northeast and 50 percent in the West. Nationally, the rate is about 55 percent—about 13 percent higher than the churn rate for men. 

Regardless of region, urban anglers have a higher churn rate. The churn rate ranges from 34-60 percent for urban anglers across all four regions, from 30-55 percent for those residing in suburban communities, and from 24-46 percent for those in rural communities. The national churn rate in urban communities falls within this regional range; however, rural anglers’ churn rate ranges lower than the national rate in the Midwest, Northeast, and West.     

Southwick Associates compiled and studied fishing license data over a 10-year period, from 2004-2013, and a five-year period, from 2009-2013, from 12 states (CO, FL, GA, ME, MI, MN, MS, MT, NH, NY, UT, and WI) to provide a regionally and nationally representative portrait of anglers for this and future reports in the series.  Three states were selected from within each of the four geographic areas of the country—the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, and West—to provide regional representation. 

Monday
Oct052015

Millions of Kids Want You to Take Them Fishing

Most who fish started as children younger than 12. That's confirmed by a "2015 Special Report on Fishing" from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation that pegs the number at "more than 85 percent."

More often than not, a parent, grandparent, or some other relative took them, not once but regularly. They developed passion for the sport because it was fun, as well as a challenge. It was  a connection to a mysterious underwater world inhabited by wondrous creatures. But they also embraced it because they shared those experiences with loved ones and, over time,  wonderful memories accumulated.

Of course, there are exceptions, and I am one of them. No one in my family fished. But at age 8, I went with my Cub Scouts pack on outing to a farm pond. I didn't catch a fish, but I was hooked for life. Two years later, we moved to a subdivision near a small lake, and the first thing on my wish list that Christmas was a rod-and-reel set that I saw in a comic book ad. I can't help but wonder, though, if  I would have found my way to fishing if we had not made that move. And what about other kids on other Cubs Scouts trips who never had a second opportunity to wet a line?

On the other hand, I made it a point to take my nieces fishing when they were young, yet none of them have much interest in the sport today. Either we embrace the sport, or we don't, for a myriad of reasons. But the more opportunities that we provide for participation, the better the future of fishing will be for all of us. As the study suggests, starting when kids are young is the best strategy. But we're also finding other ways, including high school and college fishing programs, such as those sponsored by B.A.S.S., and how-to classes, such as the Discover Nature series offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation. These activities benefit not just children who grew up fishing with family but those like me, who hunger for mentors to fish with them and share their knowledge of the sport.

And I'm not just saying that. The report reveals that 4.3 million kids want to try fishing.

Trevor Lo, meanwhile, is someone who learned young from his father, but was hungry for more. "I started competitively fishing local tournaments around the age of 14. I got involved in a local tournament trail hosted by other Hmong fishermen."

Later, he joined the University of Minnesota bass fishing team "in hopes of learning more about fishing different parts of the country, as well as seeing how I could do against other fishermen around my age."

Laura Ann Foshee

And it's not just boys who want more opportunities to fish either. The study reveals that half of first-time anglers are female, which is not a surprise to Laura Ann Foshee or Allyson Marcel.

Foshee helped start the Gardendale Rockets Bass Fishing Club in Georgia after seeing a high school competition at Smith Lake. "We had 60 people to show up at our first information meeting and ended up with a team of 18 anglers," said the only female member of the Bassmaster High School All-America Fishing Team.

"I love the challenge and the rush I get when I hook into a bass," she said. "In fishing, you are constantly trying to figure out the ever-changing patterns of the fish and learn new lakes, seasons, and techniques."

Thanks to her father, Marcel started fishing as soon as she was old enough "to hold a pole," and she was a charter member of the Nicholls State University's bass fishing team in Louisiana.

"I just love being on the water," she said. "There's no place I would rather be.

"Usually I fish with my Dad, brother, or boyfriend so not only am I doing something I love, but I'm doing it with someone I love."

And what do young anglers say is the best way to grow the sport?

"I would encourage parents to take their children fishing, as well as educate them in regards to wildlife and the outdoors," said Lo, who also urged students to join fishing clubs.

Foshee added, "When it comes to girls getting into fishing, I think the biggest obstacle isn't physical strength . . . but a perception that fishing is a boys sport . . . I can't tell you how much of an inspiration it is to see female anglers like Trait Crist catching the big bass in the Open and Allyson Marcel win the College National Championship. My dream is to be the first to win the Bassmaster Classic!"

(This column appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Friday
Oct022015

Better Bass Fishing Provides a Look at the 'Big Picture' of Bass Fishing

In addition to how-to information, it reveals secrets for becoming a better bass angler through scientific knowledge on bass biology and the effects of weather, as well as helpful logistical instruction on equipment and techniques. Better Bass Fishing encourages a thoughtful approach to fishing and the realization that success is tied to more than just using the right bait.

 

Senior Writer Robert Montgomery credits the opportunities and experiences provided him by BASS for much of the angling expertise that he shares with readers in his new book, Better Bass Fishing --- Secrets from the Headwaters. “I’ve learned from the best,” he says of his 25 years as a senior writer for Bassmaster magazine.

In addition to revealing information provided him by the pros and some of the country’s best guides, Montgomery also offers tips and insights from some of BASS’s own, including founder Ray Scott.

Scott details the power of provocation for angling success, while Dave Precht, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster, reveals the importance of determining the proper retrieve.

In the Biology and Behavior chapter, Montgomery says that Bassmaster and BASS Times “provide the most up-to-date information on bass biology and behavior, as well as new strategies for catching them (bass).” He adds that many of today’s young pros say that they grew up reading Bassmaster, “and the knowledge they gained from the magazine was critical to their success.”

Thursday
Oct012015

TrophyCatch Boasts Nearly 3,000 Entries as Season Three Ends

As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  wraps up season three of TrophyCatch, nearly 3,000 trophy largemouth bass heavier than 8 pounds have been caught, documented, and released in Florida.

Thanks to TrophyCatch’s corporate partners, led by Bass Pro Shops, Phoenix Boats and Experience Kissimmee, anglers  reap rewards for taking time to document and release these fish so they may be caught again, as well as help FWC learn more about enhancing and sustaining the most popular fishery in the world.

Each angler who catches a bass weighing more than 8 pounds, documents the weight, and releases it alive is eligible to earn prizes, starting with $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, a custom certificate and decal, as well as other prizes. Check out TrophyCatchFlorida.com  to register, submit catches and review the rules and prizing details, which increase in value for larger bass. For most anglers, qualifying is as simple as taking a photo of the entire bass, head-to-tail, on a scale, so the weight can be seen and submitting it to the website. Tournament anglers also may participate by providing a link to official published results.

*               *               *               *

Texas' ShareLunker Program begins 30th season

*               *               *               *

“In season three alone, we documented more than 1,700 trophy-size bass caught and released in Florida to continue growing, spawning, and challenging anglers,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

Included were 14 Hall of Fame bass, each weighing more than 13 pounds. Each of those 14 anglers will receive a hand-painted replica of his catch (a $500 value), as well as $200 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, and other prizes.

Although all bass must have been caught between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sep. 30, 2015, to be included in the season three competition, anglers have until Oct. 15 to get their catches submitted and approved. The annual champion will then be announced and the Championship Ring, provided by the American Outdoors Fund, will be presented. The current leader is Seth Chapman, who caught, documented, and released a 15-pound, 11-ounce Florida largemouth on March 15 in Kingsley Lake, Clay County. This is the same semi-private lake in Florida that yielded the season two champion bass.

Every angler who registers, free of cost, at TrophyCatchFlorida.com  is entered into an annual drawing for a $40,000 bass boat package. Phoenix boats donated a 619 Pro, powered by Mercury Marine, and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system. In addition, every time an angler has a TrophyCatch verified and approved, he or she earns 10 more chances to win the boat.

Check out Facebook to see who the finalists are for this year’s random drawing and to learn when and where the boat will be given away.

“TrophyCatch has caught on with anglers from around the state and the world,” said K.P. Clements, TrophyCatch director. “We still have trophy bass that were caught and released but not documented because anglers did not have a suitable scale or camera to verify the weight, failed to get the required photograph, or didn’t yet know about the program. But we are finding out that more and more anglers are making sure they’re ready to document and submit their catch when they land a TrophyCatch-size bass.”

All of this activity helps achieve TrophyCatch goals, which are to preserve these valuable trophy fish, learn how to enhance their abundance, and promote recreational fishing.

Wednesday
Sep302015

Dead Fish, Dry Reservoir Show What Lies Ahead for California, Florida

Thousands of fish died suddenly when Mountain Meadows, a Northern California reservoir, "ran dry overnight."

"Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight," reported CBS Sacramento.

Yes, some specific act--- possibly someone opening the dam--- drained the impoundment managed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company. But in truth, Mountain Meadows and many other California fisheries have been on the inevitable path to drying up for decades because of the state's unsustainable demand for water. And it's only going to get worse.

The same thing is going to happen in Florida, where unchecked development and growth soon will outweigh that state's finite supply of freshwater.  Yes, that state is surrounded by water on three sides, but it's salt water.  The lower half of the state is arid, as is the case for California, and far too many people require far too much water. They waste much of it too. For example, millions of gallons go to water grass, which never would there naturally.

"Waterfront" property in Clermont Chain in 2013, before lakes started to refill.

In Florida, the Clermont Chain provides a prime example of what is to come for the rest of the state. Right now, this central Florida waterway is back to near normal water levels.  But until this 15-lake system started to refill in the fall of 2014, the water level sank lower and lower for years. Local officials tried to blame drought, but residents, many of whom had lost their "waterfront" property, weren't buying that.  They blamed too many diversions, both legal and illegal.

“Clermont Bait & Tackle that was here for generations is gone now,” said Dave Burkhardt, who has lived on Lake Crescent for 27 years and is owner of Trik Fish line company.

“Guides are gone and so are marinas and boat businesses. Hundreds of people who are paying taxes for waterfront property don’t have water anymore.

“And yet this is supposed to be a highly protected system (officially designated an Outstanding Florida Water).”

Adding to the insanity in the Sunshine State, Florida Defenders of the Environment and other environmental groups continue to press for destruction of Rodman Reservoir, one of the state's top bass fisheries and most diverse ecosystems, because they hate the idea that it was manmade. It also happens to be one of the few impoundments in the state that could be used for water storage.

With a year of abundant rain and some of those diversions reportedly shut off, the Clermont Lake is back to near normal. But for how long? In Florida, developers still can basically do what they want when they want, meaning they can keep building more and more houses in areas where the water supply simply cannot sustain unlimited growth.

And which reservoir in California will be the next to run dry overnight, with thousands more fish dying, because of too many people, too many cities, too many farms and too little water?