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Fishing License Trends from Southwick

We all know fishing participation skyrocketed in 2020. But what has happened so far in 2021? According to state fishing license data monitored by Southwick Associates and available from the American Sportfishing Association website, sales in the first half of 2021 – when most licenses are sold – were the second highest seen since mid-year sales monitoring began roughly 12 years ago. While sales were down 6% compared to 2020, comparing 2021’s license sales to 2020 is like comparing your income to the year after you won the lottery – its not a fair comparison. Comparisons to 2019 are more reasonable. In the first half of 2021, license sales were 8% higher than 2019. Female participation remained a big driver behind fishing’s increases, with women participating at numbers 16% higher than in 2019. Also, after years of steady declines, participation is higher for younger people, too. Regarding new recruits, defined as people not observed buying a license in the past ten years, their numbers for January through June were 16% greater than 2019. If businesses and state fisheries agencies can work individually and collectively support organizations such as the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), we can help maintain these increases and future sales. Visit to explore license sales through the first half of 2021. Contact Rob Southwick with any questions (

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