Foundation hopes 2021 angler count hits 60 million


By Al Smith - Guest Columnist



Following a 10% growth in fishing participation in 2020, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) hopes to reach 60 million anglers this year.

That means at least 5 million more new or returning anglers must participate in the sport this year. That many went fishing in 2020 as enjoying new growth from the COVID-19 pandemic and people safely participated in outdoor activities.

That group proved to be younger, more diverse and live in urban areas.

Adding additional anglers will be no easy task either since data identified a three-year trend among lapsed anglers. In 2020, 8.8 million anglers lapsed out of the sport. This group is primarily made up of Americans age 55 and older who cited lack of time, preference for other outdoor activities, cost, loss of interest and lack of access to waterways as the primary reasons they lapsed.

Recruitment, retention and reactivation are the 3Rs in RBFF’s philosophy.

After years of stagnation, fishing participation rate rose to 18% of the U.S. population, the highest rate in more than a decade. Reactivated participants soared at 9 million (compared to 6.8 million the prior year). And there was a big increase among first-time participants as first-timers climbed to 4.4 million (up from 3.1 million last year).

Female participants played a big role as their numbers hit 19.7 million. They comprised 36% of total participants, an all time high. Nearly 1.8 million more women went fishing than in the year prior, with a 10% increase.

Hispanics participated at an all-time high with 4.8 million participants, a 13% increase from 2019.

Youth participation in 2020 grew 53% to 13.5 million total participants.

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Numerous Lima anglers will be participating on Major League Fishing’s (MLF) Phoenix Bass Fishing League. Local bassers will be competing in the Buckeye, Michigan and Hoosier divisions.

The Buckeye Division opens next Saturday (May 15) on the Ohio River out of Tanners Creek and the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, ramp. The division hosts a tourney in the Lima area June 26 at Grand Lake St. Marys out of the West Bank Ramp. The division moves to Mosquito Lake out of the Mosquito Lake State Park on July 24. Tanner’s

Creek will be the site of the Aug. 14 tourney with a two-day event on Lake Erie out of the Shelby Street boat launch in Sandusky, concluding the tourney season.

The Michigan Division will fish out of two sites for its five tourneys. The first two, held June 26 and July 10, will be out of the Ensign boat launch on Lake St. Clair. The final three events will be held on the Detroit River out of the Elizabeth Park Marina on July 31, Aug. 28 and Sept. 18-19.

The Hoosier Division already began its schedule with a tourney in April on the Rough River. It’s next tourney is this weekend (May 8) on Patoka Lake out of the Newton Stewart South ramp. The division hosts a tourney on Lake Monroe on July 10 out of the Cutright ramp. The final two division events will be on the Ohio River. On Aug. 7 the division fishes at Rocky Point out of the Rocky Point Marina and ends with a two-day tourney on Aug. 28-29 on Tanners Creek out of the Lawrenceburg ramp.

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After Lima area turkey hunters had a similar beginning to this year’s wild turkey season compared to a year ago, they dropped drastically in harvest when comparing the first full week of the 2021 and 2020 seasons.

Area turkey hunters checked in 215 turkeys through May 2 while they checked 267 during the opening week in 2020. Local hunters checked in 108 turkeys during the opening weekend while in 2020 they checked 111 on the first two days of the season.

Hunters were more successful in just one county during the opening week. That was Shelby where 27 turkeys were checked in compared to 22 during 2020’s opening week.

The eight other local counties all showed a decrease from a year ago. Those county numbers with last year’s harvest in parenthesis were: Allen 36 (41), Auglaize 14 (23) Hancock 17 (22), Hardin 39 (49), Logan 51 (59), Mercer 6 (16), Putnam 19 (25), Van Wert 6 (10).

Statewide 8,235 were taken during the opening week compared to 8,113 during 2020’s first week.

The spring hunting season limit is 2 bearded wild turkeys. Hunters may harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second permit may be purchased at any time throughout the spring season. A turkey is required to be checked no later than 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest.

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It’s tick season and these little pests have been picked up a lot already this spring. Anyone participating in outdoor pursuits, especially in areas with tall grasses, shrubs, low hanging branches, or leaf mold is susceptible to being bitten by a tick.

Ticks do not jump, crawl, or fall onto a person. They are picked up when your clothing or hair brushes a leaf or other object they are on. Ticks are generally found within three feet of the ground. Once picked up, they will crawl until they find a likely site to feed. Often they will find a spot at the back of a knee, near the hairline, or behind the ears.

Check yourself often and have someone also do a tick check on you.

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By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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