Fishing Participants are Changing

Forestville, WI – National Professional Anglers Association members learned how to turn their passion into their profession at the organization's recent annual conference in Wisconsin Dells Jan. 8-10. They heard from numerous industry experts at dozens of sessions, including keynote speaker Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.

Nussman focused on the passion of the professional anglers at the conference. He speaks from a position of strength as the leader of the recreational fishing industry's trade association. The ASA hosts the largest tackle trade show drawing 13,000 people from 70 countries annually. The ASA partners with a number of organizations including NPAA, to work towards improving fishing, better fisheries management on the state and federal levels and helping to ensure access to fishing waters.

"Most people don't know that the 10 percent excise tax paid on fishing tackle and fishing licenses sold amounts to $1.2 Billion each year. These monies go to help fund state fisheries programs," he said. Fishing ranks second to running as the most popular outdoor activity, with biking, camping and hiking the top five outdoor pursuits. Over the past 40 years, annual fishing license sales have averaged between 27 and 31 million.

However, despite the numbers, he said, "We as a sport are changing. We need to broaden our appeal and reach all ethnic groups." Anglers are 95 percent Caucasian and 95 percent male, but Nussman said in 35 years, only 50 percent of the United States population will be Caucasian. "We have the opportunity to attract so many more people, and we all need to work together to do this," he said.

The percentage of 6 to 15 year-old kids now fishing dropped from 40 percent in 1990 to 26 percent today. "Kids don't have to go outside to be entertained. We all know why that is. We are not allowing our kids to experience the outdoors," he said. He applauded the NPAA Future Angler Events, which attracted 14,420 youth and 6,846 parents last year. They received t-shirts, rods and reels, educational materials and valuable fishing lessons.

Educating and attracting the next generation to fishing will take an immense amount of work, but the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), with ASA's involvement and support, has developed a strategy called the "3Rs" which are recruitment, retention and reactivation of fishing license holders. Research shows that 46 percent of new anglers this year will NOT fish next year, and 49 percent of anglers purchase a license only once every 10 years. Most amazing, statistics show only four percent of anglers bought licenses each of the past 10 years. These three areas are a key focus area for ASA, and Nussman said organizations like the NPAA are poised to assist the cause. "The passion exhibited by conference attendees will make a difference," he said.

For recruitment, he said ASA cannot do it alone. Other national organizations such as RBFF will take the lead. "Everybody will have to take part," he said. That includes tackle and outdoor industries, state fisheries agencies, angler groups and individuals. He said, "We must create a machine to recruit new people to the sport, and the research so far has shown that longer-term camps and schools really immerse youngsters into the sport. These young anglers become proficient and capable of striking out on their own after these events."

For the retention and reactivation components of the strategy, Nussman said, "People have been trained to expect fast and easy in everything they do. Why can't license sales be as easy as ordering a book from Amazon?" He continued, "Why can't fishing licenses be automatically renewed like so many other pieces of our lives? The world is changing; we need to keep up with it for the good of the sport."

Pat Neu, NPAA executive director said, "We have barely scratched the surface of what we can do. With our goals of attracting more members and more supporting partners, and continuing our efforts to work with the ASA, we can help attract and educate more anglers of all ages."

The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) is a non-profit, member-based association dedicated to sportfishing. Its membership is composed of professional guides, tournament anglers, angler educators and sportfishing/marine industry professionals who are passionate about the sport. Many NPAA member anglers have taken their passion for sportfishing to a level where passion has evolved into a profession.

The NPAA's mission is: "To increase the professionalism of our members as we work to grow and protect sportfishing." More NPAA conference, partner, member and industry news can be viewed at .

The NPAA is proud to have the following fine companies as Supporting Partners: Advanced Tex Screen-printing, Cabela's National Walleye Tour, The Walleye Federation, Evinrude Outboards, Plano Synergy, Leer, Lund Boat Co, Mercury Marine, Muskie Expo, Navionics, Optima Batteries, Pure Fishing, Ranger, Skeeter, Stratos, Toyota Bonus Bucks, Triton, U.S. Forest Service, Worldwide Marine Insurance, Yamaha Motor Co., AirWave, Alumacraft, Aqua Vu, Dak Shack, DuraSafe Locks, Froehling Anderson , Kingfisher Boats , Larson Boats, Liddle Marketing, Matzuo, Minneapolis Financial Group, Moonshine Lures, National Fleet Graphics, Northland Fishing Tackle, Off Shore Tackle, Powrtran, Smooth Moves, St. Croix Rods, Strike King, Target Walleye, The Next Bite, 13 Fishing, Warrior Boats, Zebco, Bait Rigs, G2-Gemini, High Tech Fishing, Financial Planning Services, Fish on Kids Books, and Fishing the Wild.

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry's trade association committed to representing the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring social, economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America's 46 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation's waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™, our angler advocacy campaign. America's anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.