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National Fishing and Boating Week Turns 20 as Participation Continues to Hover Near All-Time High

National Fishing and Boating Week Turns 20 as Participation Continues to Hover Near All-Time High

Recruiting and retaining new anglers and boaters for the benefit of critical conservation programs remains the primary focus during 20th anniversary celebration

Take Me Fishing is celebrating the 20th anniversary of National Fishing and Boating Week (June 4-12) by continuing to promote the connection between fishing and boating participation and the resources it provides to help conserve America’s beloved waterways.


Following historic years for fishing licenses nationwide, the weeklong celebration will once again feature programming—including Free Fishing Day events—throughout the United States. These events are designed to create access and recruit the next generation of boaters and anglers.


"Fishing and boating have both experienced tremendous growth, not only during the past two years, but through the past two decades. That growth not only benefits our industry with new customers and sales, it also provides more resources for critical conservation programs," said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), and its Take Me Fishing brand. "This summer, we recognize Americans have more activities on their menu than they have since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue advocating for fishing and boating as a gateway to wellness that also benefit our nation’s aquatic natural resources."


National Fishing and Boating Week was proclaimed in 2002 by President George W. Bush. By signing Proclamation 7569, President Bush encouraged Americans to, "Participate in the thousands of local events scheduled in communities throughout the U.S., offering hands-on opportunities for families and friends to share in these recreational activities."


In the years since the inaugural National Fishing and Boating Week in 2002, the fishing and boating industries have continued to thrive in part by appealing to a wider range of audiences. The 20-year milestone arrives with many encouraging statistics to celebrate, including:

  • In 2021, fishing participation exceeded 50 million for the second time in 14 years.
  • 52.4 million Americans went fishing in 2021, marking a 2.2 million (4.5%) increase in the past three years.
  • 19.4 million female fishing participants in 2021, marking a 2.3 million (13.4%) increase in the past five years.
  • 4.1 million Black Americans participated in fishing in 2021, marking a 10% increase from 3.7 million in 2020.
  • 4.7 million Hispanic fishing participants in 2021, hovering near the previous record of 4.8 million in 2020.
  • 34% of boat sales in 2021 were attributed to first-time boat buyers.


People across the country can celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week no matter where they live by participating in a Free Fishing Day. These are select days during National Fishing and Boating Week and throughout the year when states waive the need of a fishing license on public bodies of water, providing new participants and avid anglers with an easy opportunity to drop a line and enjoy fishing and boating.


For more ideas on how to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, visit takemefishing.org/nfbw.



RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase recreational angling and boating participation, thereby protecting and restoring the nation's aquatic natural resources. RBFF's 60 in 60 effort strives to attract 60 million anglers to the sport by the end of 2021. To help recruit, retain and reactivate participants, RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns to build awareness of boating, fishing, and conservation and educate people about the benefits of participation.


The campaign websites feature how-to-videos and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots, helping boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan, and equip for a successful day on the water.


RBFF also offers its industry stakeholders many tools including a Fishing License & Boat Registration Plugin to connect their customers with the information they need in just one click, as well as an embeddable Places to Fish & Boat Map to help their customers discover places to fish and boat near them.

For further information: Bruna Carincotte, bcarincotte@rbff.org, 202-743-9894