We talked with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to discuss barriers that keep people from fishing and how Fishbrain can tear those barriers down.
I must have been four, or five when I first felt my line go tight in a small creek in the Sierra Nevadas. I held up the small rainbow trout, amazed and with no small amount of pride. Mom took the photo and dad stood beside me beaming while wearing a mustache and pair of shorts straight out of Magnum P.I.
It was a moment that set the tone for a lifetime of fishing.
Most anglers remember their first catch, but many aspiring anglers are still trying to tear down the barriers between them and their first catch.
As anglers and conservationists, the future of our sport lies in the hands of those who have never baited a hook. We all have a vested interest to keep the fishing tradition going, but multiple barriers can keep the next generation away. Changing times require new plans to get rod and reel in the next generation’s hands and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is on the job.
The foundation is dedicated to addressing and removing the barriers keeping people from fishing. The organization is also known to new anglers as Take Me Fishing. Recently we spoke with Rachel Piacenza of RBFF and she shared some insights with fishing barriers and how Fishbrain can help bulldoze these barriers to usher in new generations of anglers.
An example of some demographic specific barriers
The barrier is time
One of the most reported barriers RBFF hears about is time. We all struggle with time, but for a novice angler planning a fishing trip can be extremely time consuming.
“It takes time to plan. It's another mental, or perceived barrier that you need to spend hours planning, finding gear, finding where to go, packing and more,” Piacenza said. “The goal is to make fishing an activity that resonates with people and makes it a time priority. We want to teach people that getting outside, spending time with family and being within nature is always worthy of time spent. It’s not about the catch, but the memories you make while out.”
Planning a fishing trip without knowing where you can fish, or which waters are worth spending the day on certainly takes a lot of time. Most of us take for granted that we have a favorite spot and can pick up and go fishing without thinking of it. Accessibility, fish quality distance and more all need to be explored by new anglers and if they’ve never known the joy of setting a hook, all of a sudden the work isn't worth the time spent.
How Fishbrain helps
In-depth maps, which show body of water names, water depths, popular baits and catch photos give new anglers the information they need to pick up and go fish. Period. Fishbrain maps will show new anglers bodies of water they never knew about and can cut travel distance, gas used and time planned.
The barrier is gear
Veteran anglers look at tackle shops as toy stores. Walls and walls of lures, hooks, rods and reels make us drool and dream of possibilities. Those same walls can be daunting to someone who doesn’t yet know to differentiate between hook sizes, lure sizes, color differentiations and more.
Piacenza says gear bundles are the answer to this barrier of options. Preventing someone from having to search through multiple aisles full of hundreds of options and instead giving them everything they could possibly need from rod to lure in one package makes getting started simple and helps them ease into the variety of gear.
“Giving a future angler everything they need in one package is hugely beneficial,” Piacenza said.
How Fishbrain helps
Catch reports give aspiring anglers an in depth look into the gear others are having success with. New anglers only need to filter catches to their local area and study the gear their angling peers are using. Now they refine their gear search the next time they head to the tackle shop. They can also plan on which lures they want to try out, which hook size fits that Senko worm and which rods offer the best mix of performance and affordability.
The barrier is mentorship
Fishing retention studies show that if you get someone fishing before 12 there is an 80% chance they stay with the sport. While that retention number is fantastic, the barrier to getting that person out still exists.
“We have a sport you can enjoy with your family, but it is a sport that is traditionally passed down through generations. If you don't have that person in your life, or have lost them it can be a barrier preventing people from continuing, or starting in the first place,” Piacenza said.
How Fishbrain helps
Fishing groups on the app provide a valuable place for specific conversations and knowledge sharing. You can find groups about all different topics, groups about specific regions and water, or even groups about specific species. These groups can never replicate the value of a relative, or mentor, but are invaluable areas for second hand fishing know-how.
Big wins in fishing retention
Like most outdoor sports, fishing saw an influx in 2020. In 2021 we saw those numbers go down to pre 2020 numbers, but they remained higher than 2019. RBFF tracks the participation numbers of specific demographics that were initially underrepresented in fishing, but are seeing great leaps in participation.
You check out the full reports on retention here
First Catch Centers
RBFF is working with Departments of Natural Resources in certain states to help provide trailers full of rods, reels and tackle at specific fishing locations. Aspiring anglers can utilize the gear and local knowledge to try fishing for the first time and understand which locations are accessible for them to fish. These mobile catch centers began in 2018 and now target urban areas where fishing overall has low participation rates.
States with completed trailers:
District of Columbia
Alabama (producing 2nd trailer)
California (producing 2 trailers)
Wisconsin (producing 2nd trailer)
The future of fishing and fish conservation is trending in the right direction, but it is still the job of every angler to be a good steward of the water, the sport and the next generation. The work is never done, thanks to the work of RBFF and dedicated anglers, the future of fishing and conservation are bright.
Now let’s go fishing. We’ll bring the new anglers.
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