Study shows millions turned toward fishing and boating in 2020

A new report found millions of people have taken up fishing and boating during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The study, titled Who’s on Board: Keeping New Anglers & Boaters Hooked, was conducted by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation to support its Take Me Fishing brand. It is a comprehensive look at who took to the water this year and how Covid-19 is impacting outdoor recreation.

“Social distancing has undoubtedly made many of our routine leisure activities inaccessible, but it also led many of us to discover new ways of enjoying our free time and practicing self-care during the pandemic,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for RBFF. “With all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, fishing & boating provide a host of benefits including peace and relaxation, quality time with family and loved ones and even simply the calming effect of nature.”

The 104-page study came away with some interesting facts about new anglers and boaters this year. Below we’ll go over them in more detail.

The first and most important fact is the millions of new and returning anglers and boaters drove growth in both industries as Americans took up the activities during the summer of 2020.

New anglers and boaters are changing the face of the sports. The study found people were fishing for relaxation and family time. They are highly social both in-person and online. They tend to be younger, more urban, and more diverse. And they are also bringing their children along with them.

There were some key reasons why people started participating. They were inspired by friends, family, and kids. Usually there was nearby urban fishing access. They had a lot of additional free time. People were also motivated by media and advertisements along with childhood experience.

Once new anglers and boaters hit the water, they really liked it. Participants in the study said they enjoyed quality time with kids and loved ones; the peace, relaxation, and mental health benefits fishing can bring; and the sport provided built-in social distancing.

Key benefits of fishing and boating listed by participants were the social connection they felt, the challenge of the sports, and the connection to nature.

Newcomers can get competitive and social at the same time when they sign up for Connect Fishing League. Our mobile app gives people the ability to log catches in areas of limited or no service. It will then upload as soon as people are back within data coverage.

Joining the Connect Fishing League lets people join and compete in online tournaments. There can be prizes at the end of the tournament or just the pride of competing against others and winning. It’s easy to sign-up and cost effective for competitive anglers.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many new anglers and boaters overcame previous barriers that would prevent them from trying out the sport. Some of those barriers included people having other priorities, no experience, expecting not to like it, didn’t have the equipment, were unaware of affordable equipment, and had no companions.

When asked if they plan to keep participating in fishing and boating when the pandemic is over, 90 percent said they would keep fishing while 94 percent said they plan to keep boating.