I have already published this on my website (so I can retain copyright), but
you are free to use it as well. I retain copyright, but give permission to
reproduce it in its entirety in a positive or neutral context for republication.
********* Fewer Anglers, an Editorial Comment by Bob La Londe **********
With all the other people on the water its hard to believe there may
actually be fewer anglers out there, but some sources claim its true. I had
read something about this a couple years ago and started a similar thread,
in an on-line forum but it really didn't go anywhere.
North American Fisherman's July/August/September 2008 magazine has
an article reporting some stats that might be of interest.
33.5 million licensed anglers over the age of 16 in 1991.
29.5 million licensed anglers over the age of 16 in 2006.
They list their source as the, "National Survey of Fishing Hunting and
When I was a kid I was told we had about 245 million people in this country.
I think the last census number I saw was 275 million. This means that net
decrease in clout to protect our sport is even worse than the numbers listed
in the survey.
When it comes to legislative issues a loss of anglers means a loss influence.
As fewer waters are open to fishing or some of the better renown see greater
concentrations of anglers we may find it hard to believe that there really
are fewer licensed anglers on our waters, but it appears to be true.
As hard as it may be to share a little especially with strangers or passing
acquaintances, we owe it to our children and our grand children to keep
waters open, regulations reasonable, and, numbers strong.
One angler who is a regular on my fishing forums always has a, "Shhhh!!!
Keep folks off our river. Don't tell anybody about good fishing. I want it
to myself. Fewer people on the river means better fishing," attitude. To
some extant I agree, but there is of course the long term negative impact
of fewer people to protect fishing for future generations. This is what I had
to say to him last time he went on one of his rants.
"Heck, lets just vilify fishing. Start false stories about the
atrocities performed on the water by fishermen, and make even expressing an
interest in fishing a social stigma.
Then we will have even fewer people fishing, those will be afraid to
say anything to anybody about it, and of course we can all slap ourselves on
the back when BR and BLM helps us perpetuate the move to reduce anglers on
the water by closing more areas to fishing. HEY! You might get your pike
minnows (a native species no longer apparent) back, but sadly you wouldn't
be allowed to fish for them.
When our children can no longer have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors
because of stigmata, closed fishing areas, and apathy of other outdoorsmen
after massive government closures, horrific regulation, and the abuse of the
outdoors themselves by other anglers we might all be able to get together
and drink a toast to the demise of fishing in America. All two of us who are
left. You bring the bucket of water, and I'll smuggle in a line and some
goldfish from the pet store."
I was obviously exaggerating and being sarcastic, but there is a small seed
of truth to it as well.
I started Yuma Bass Man (my website) as a way to brag a little, and then
it became a way to share a little basic knowledge just the way this group
does. Yuma Pro Am is a bass fishing club (I started) that helps bring a few
more people into tournament angling, but I'm not sure it gets a lot of new
people into fishing in general. I suppose it does help to retain some. Each
one of us can certainly do a little to share the joy of fishing, and those of us
who are members of clubs can certainly do a little more if we can convince
our clubs that fishing is worth protecting, not just enjoying it for ourselves
and immediate friends and family. Casting clinics, take a kid fishing days,
pro/kid events. These are the things clubs can do. We as individuals can
just take somebody fishing.
Bob La Londe