There has been a lot of talk about the state of the sport, and there is no question that the fishing industry has taken a hit. Then again, the majority of American businesses have felt the squeeze over the past 3 years. While we all know there are fewer boats being sold, are there really fewer people participating in fishing? I've spoken to a lot of guides who claim that business is starting to pick back up. Central Florida is dotted with places to fish, and I see more people bank fishing around ponds and lakes now then I ever have before. Regardless of how many fishing licenses are being sold, those license holders are not spending the money they used to on new boats or fuel for their old boats. While most of us are still fishing, the frequency we go and amount we are able spend on tackle or guided fishing trips has been dramatically reduced.
The industry will recover, but it's going to take some strategic thinking. it's easy to blame the economy, and that factor needs some direct attention. No single factor or entity is responsible for the decline, but if money is the hurdle, then it needs to be addressed by creating more value for consumers. That could mean designing new products or retooling old processes to come up with less expensive designs. In contrast, it might also mean making better and longer lasting products. Either way it's about creating a better value for the consumer.
The solution to growing the sport and keeping participation moving in a positive direction is a completely different issue. There are so many more demands on our time then there were 25 years ago, and there are so many more things competing for that time that it's hard to stay focused. Growing up I had 3 channels now I have 6000 channels and A.D.D. As kids we had 2 or 3 after school activities to choose from, as parents we juggle multiple jobs and getting our kids to and from school, soccer, karate, music, scouts and dance recitals 6 days a week. Organizations like Take Me Fishing do a great job of providing tools and resources that help anglers of all levels, and there seems to be a growing trend towards those initiatives. Most can agree that getting kids hooked on fishing is a good thing on a lot of levels, and that conservation, management and educating the public all go hand in hand with that. Teach them to love fishing and we have future bait and boat buyers. Show them why we respect and appreciate the outdoors and we will have great ambassadors and stewards of our natural resources for generations to come, but before we can achieve any of that, we have to entice them to back away from the PS2, Xbox and MTV and get outside.
Let's kick this around... What do you think is the best way to get more people fishing?