According to statistics from the National Surveys of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which are published every five years, the number of anglers in the U.S. is in a steady decline. The number of anglers has dropped from 35.6 million in 1991 to 33.1 million in 2011.
Though the number of anglers has increased about 10 percent over the last five years, the long-term trend in fishing activity is down 7 percent over 20 years. That saddens me. Some of my fondest memories are daddy-daughter fishing trips.
When my daughters were little girls, they loved to go to a nearby creek and catch a few bluegills. They squealed with delight whenever they hooked a palm-sized fighter. Of course, we always had to get over the "ick" factor (no pun intended) of getting worms on hooks.
So why are fewer people fishing today than they did 20 years ago?
A big part of the problem is how our lives have changed over the last 30 years.
The outdoors is no longer a playground for many children. Fewer people live in rural areas. Electronic devices and rigidly scheduled extracurricular activities control the lives of many young families. And even more important, many young parents today may have little experience in the outdoors.
In fact, I suspect many of today's young parents only got outdoors as children for recess, baseball and soccer. They are products of a generation dominated by indoor activities and electronic gadgets.
When I was a boy, there was always a relative, neighbor, or family friend going fishing. Kids tagged along and learned. (Hope I don't sound like an old fogey.)