The survey didn’t ask about respondents’ reasons for participating in fishing and other recreational activities, and the causes of the earlier decline and recent upward swing in popularity aren’t clear.
One reason could be that it’s a relatively inexpensive sport, which might have been appealing as the economy struggled in recent years and people became more cost-conscious. Another factor might be promotions and programs designed to lure anglers, old and new.
Bill Laughard’s guess is that a shift in the sport’s focus to more of a family view might have played a role. Laughard, who co-owns Gone Fishin’ Bait and Tackle in Cuyahoga Falls, said there’s been a steady, slow boost in business at the store, where items for sale include fishing rods that are pink or designed for children.
“The industry as a whole has started pushing it toward family,” Laughard said. “It’s not like it was in the ’50s and ’60s when it was the guy thing to do.”
But why has interest decreased since peaking around 1990?
“If we knew that, then we’d know how to fix it,” said Ohio Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Vicki Ervin.
Akron angler Richard Brubaker’s theory is that the slow pace and sometimes solitary style of fishing don’t mesh with the speed and technological distractions of modern society.
“People today don’t have the patience to fish,” Brubaker, 73, told the newspaper. “Some days, you’re going to hit it and some days you aren’t. You might as well enjoy it.”