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Americans escaped to the water for fresh air and safe social distanced fun during the pandemic

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 16, 2020 - With COVID-19 transforming Americans' recreational habits, a new study from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) has found that millions of new or returning participants have taken up fishing & boating. Particular increases were seen among nontraditional participants, signaling the activities' increasing appeal among new audiences.

Titled Who's On Board: Keeping New Anglers & Boaters Hooked, the study is a comprehensive look at America's newcomers to the water and how COVID-19 is influencing the future of outdoor recreation. It was conducted by RBFF to support its Take Me Fishing brand. "Social distancing has undoubtedly made many of our routine leisure activities inaccessible, but it also led many of us to discover new ways of enjoying our free time and practicing self-care during the pandemic," said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for RBFF. "With all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, fishing & boating provide a host of benefits including peace and relaxation, quality time with family and loved ones and even simply the calming effect of nature." Key findings from the report include:

  • Millions of Americans took up fishing or boating as new or returning participants during summer 2020.

  • New anglers and boaters are younger, more urban and more diverse. They are also highly socially connected.

  • Common reasons for getting started included canceled vacations and summer plans, more flexible schedules while working from home and inspiration from family and friends.

  • New anglers overcame a variety of barriers including inexperience, lack of equipment and not having a fishing companion.

  • Benefits people liked most about fishing & boating included the calmness of nature, enjoyment and mental wellness.

  • Newcomers overwhelmingly plan to continue fishing & boating. Among boaters, 94% say they'll continue, and among anglers, 90% plan to continue in the future.

  • Personal motivations for continued participation include three key elements of fishing & boating: social connection with loved ones, the challenge of the activities and the connection to nature they offer.

Who's On Board is part of the Take Me Fishing Get On Board campaign, a national public service initiative to raise awareness about the health and wellness benefits of fishing & boating while social distancing. The full report and multimedia assets are available for download at Additional website resources include how-to guides for getting started fishing & boating, an interactive map of places to fish as well as local water access updates to help participants recreate responsibly. About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) 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.

To learn more, contact Bruna Carincotte, Senior Manager, PR, RBFF,, (703) 519-6917


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