U.S. Fish and Wildlife Releases 2011’s Fishing Survey

Highlights include 8.9 million saltwater anglers fishing on 86 million trips totaling 99 million days.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reports results from interviews with U.S. residents about their fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching. This report focuses on 2011 participation and expenditures of persons at least 16 years old. There was a considerable overlap in activities among anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers.

Sportsmen Highlights

In 2011, 69 percent of hunters also fished, and 28 percent of anglers hunted. In addition, 51 percent of anglers and 57 percent of hunters wildlife watched, while 29 percent of all wildlife watchers reported hunting and/or fishing during the year. Wildlife recreationists’ avidity also is reflected in the $144.7 billion they spent in 2011 on their activities, which equated to 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.


Of the total amount spent, $49.5 billion was trip-related, $70.4 billion was spent on equipment, and $25.1 billion was spent on other items such as licenses and land leasing and ownership. Sportspersons spent a total of $89.8 billion in 2011—$41.8 billion on fishing, $33.7 billion on hunting, and $14.3 billion on items used for both hunting and fishing.

Fishing and Hunting

In 2011, 37.4 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older went fishing and/or hunting. This includes 33.1 million who fished and 13.7 million who hunted— 9.4 million both fished and hunted. In 2011, expenditures by sportspersons totaled $89.8 billion. Trip-related expenditures, including those for food, lodging, and transportation, were $32.2 billion—36 percent of all fishing and hunting expenditures.


Total equipment expenditures amounted to $43.2 billion, 48 percent of the total. Other expenditures—magazines, membership dues, contributions, land leasing and ownership, and licenses, stamps, tags, and permits—accounted for $14.3 billion, or 16 percent of all sportspersons’ expenditures.

** Fishing Highlights**

In 2011, 33.1 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older enjoyed a variety of fishing opportunities throughout the United States. Anglers fished 554 million days and took 455 million fishing trips. They spent $41.8 billion in fishing-related expenses during the year.


Freshwater anglers numbered 27.5 million. They fished 456 million days and took 369 million trips to freshwater in 2011. Freshwater anglers spent $25.7 billion on freshwater fishing trips and equipment. Saltwater fishing attracted 8.9 million anglers who enjoyed 86 million trips on 99 million days. They spent $10.3 billion on their trips and equipment.

** Fishing Expenditures**

Anglers spent $41.8 billion in 2011 including $21.8 billion on travel-related items—52 percent of all fishing expenditures. Food and lodging accounted for $7.7 billion, 35 percent of all triprelated costs. Spending on transportation totaled $6.3 billion, 29 percent of trip-related expenditures. Other trip expenditures such as land use fees, guide fees, equipment rental, boating expenses, and bait cost anglers $7.8 billion—36 percent of all trip expenses.


Fishing equipment expenditures totaled $15.5 billion, 37 percent of all fishing expenditures. Anglers spent $6.1 billion on fishing equipment such as rods, reels, tackle boxes, depth finders, and artificial lures and flies. This amounted to 40 percent of all equipment expenditures. Auxiliary equipment expenditures, which include camping equipment, binoculars, and special fishing clothing, totaled $1.1 billion—7 percent of equipment costs. Expenditures for special equipment such as boats, vans, and cabins were $8.3 billion—53 percent of all equipment costs.

Anglers also spent a considerable amount on other fishing-related items, such as land leasing and ownership, membership dues, contributions, licenses, stamps, and permits. Land leasing and ownership spending totaled $3.4 billion, which is 8 percent of all expenditures. Expenditures on magazines, books, DVDs, membership dues and contributions, licenses, stamps, tags, and permits were $1.1 billion.

** Saltwater Fishing Highlights**

In 2011, 8.9 million anglers enjoyed saltwater fishing on 86 million trips totaling 99 million days. Overall, they spent $10.3 billion during the year on trips and equipment. Of their expenditures, trip-related costs garnered the largest portion, $7.3 billion. Food and lodging cost $2.4 billion, 32 percent of trip expenditures; transportation costs totaled $1.5 billion, 21 percent of trip costs; and other trip costs such as equipment rental, bait, and guide fees were $3.4 billion. Anglers spent a total of $2.9 billion on equipment for saltwater fishing. Of the $2.9 million, $1.4 billion was for fishing equipment (rods, reels, etc.), $217 million for auxiliary equipment (like camping gear), and $1.3 billion for special equipment such as boats.

–Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service