Using the old to create the new

Posted on: September 30, 2015 | Bob Frye | Comments

What draws people to fish?
That depends on the fisherman, it seems.
Baby boomers, who make up the bulk of license buyers here in Pennsylvania and nationally, and who fish more avidly than any other group, are drawn by the sport, said Tom Allen, vice president of Southwick Associates, an outdoor polling firm. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission hired the company to examine license buying trends and how marketing initiatives are faring.
Allen said things are different when it comes to women, millennials, minorities and first-timers.
“The social aspect of fishing is what really gets them motivated,” he said.
That should drive how the commission reacts, said board member Eric Hussar of Union County.
“With our programs, we’ve got to keep that in mind, the motivations. That’s critical,” Hussar said.
The baby boomers, meanwhile, are aging: the average fishermen in Pennsylvania is now older than 50, Allen said. And, he noted, there’s no similarly-sized group of fishermen coming up behind them to take their place.
If the commission wants to keep license sales strong, it’s got to figure out ways to recruit, retain and reactivate anglers.
Commission executive director John Arway suggested turning to those older, long-time, diehard fishermen. They are not only passionate about the sport, he said, but often have lots of free time, time that coincides with when children especially are free to fish.
“The reality of it is, they’re our teachers. I think seniors are an asset we really need to explore,” Arway said.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.