UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

60 in 60

60 in 60

The face of fishing is changing. It’s becoming more diverse. Younger. Multicultural. And that is great considering that 45 percent of current anglers are 50 years of age or older and will likely age out of the sport over the next 25 years. Without a significant influx of new anglers through proven recruitment activities, retention of existing anglers and reactivation of lapsed anglers, a process known as R3, the sport we all love is headed for decline. But I’m not worried. Not only will we avoid a decline that once seemed inevitable, we will grow participation thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and American Sportfishing Association working alongside state fish and wildlife agencies, industry, and organizations like FLW and the nonprofit FLW Foundation. Together we are on the cutting edge of an industry-wide effort called “60 in 60.”

The aim of 60 in 60 is to grow participation from the current 47.2 million U.S. anglers to 60 million anglers by the end of 2021. When successful, the effort will generate more than $500 million for conservation through fishing license and tackle sales. Better conservation means better fishing, and better fishing means more participation. It’s a model of sustainability, and one that we wholeheartedly support. Fishing, after all, is a participation sport, and nobody puts more people on the water fishing than FLW and the FLW Foundation.

We do this through Unified Fishing Derbies targeting multicultural families with children ages 6 to 17. We do it through High School Fishing tournaments, summer camps and grants to accelerate the adoption of High School Fishing as a school-sanctioned activity. We do it with a hierarchy of tournaments for college students, weekend anglers, aspiring professionals and top professionals alike. We do it with the help of expert anglers known as FLW Ambassadors who volunteer each year to kick off National Fishing and Boating Week by sharing the joy of fishing with families and children at #ReelFun Fishing events in Walmart stores nationwide. This year 735 FLW Ambassadors heeded the call to visit a record 2,000 Walmart stores backed by support from RBFF, Wildlife Forever, Zip Firestarters, Pringles and Jack Link’s. If you want to see the future of fishing, do a quick search for #ReelFun on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Thank you is not enough to express my sincere appreciation for our dedicated FLW Ambassadors and all that they do to help improve the family fishing experience that is so critical in creating new anglers.

The 2017 Special Report on Fishing prepared by RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation concluded that engaging potential anglers with meaningful fishing opportunities at an early age is essential for success, as research shows that 83 percent of current anglers were introduced to the sport during childhood. After age 12, a person is much less likely to try fishing. If someone has not fished by age 18, it is nearly impossible to create a new angler. For the current majority of anglers, a traditional pathway to fishing included introduction to the sport by a family member or relative. That pathway is in serious decline, however, for a variety of socioeconomic reasons, which is why FLW and the FLW Foundation have redoubled efforts to create new mentoring relationships that introduce children to fishing and provide ongoing opportunities for positive fishing experiences.

Our latest endeavor is the FLW Kids Club website, FLWKidsClub.com, where elementary and middle school children and their parents can learn from FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley and Boy Scouts of America pro Tom Redington, among others. It’s designed as a destination for online mentoring to ensure that young anglers and their caregivers always have someone they can turn to for advice and information on fishing activities close to home. We’ve just scratched the surface, so look for more interactive FLWKidsClub.com content in the months and years to come.

Yes, the face of fishing is changing, but its heart is not. The worldwide family of FLW anglers, whose dedication to the sport and willingness to lend a helping hand are without equal, remains the heart and soul of fishing. Thank you.  

Tags: trish-blake  article 

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