There are 29.2 million registered anglers in the United States, with more than 52 million anglers of all ages taking to water bodies around the country in 2021, according to the Outdoor Foundation's 2022 Special Report on Fishing.
In an effort to learn more about one of Americans' favorite pastimes, Stacker compiled a list of the states with the most registered anglers using data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. States are ranked by per capita fishing license holders based on 2021 data and 2021 American Community Survey population estimates, with fishing licenses, tags, permits, and stamps per capita serving as a tiebreaker.
As schedules have become more crowded, Americans have increasingly sought out the quiet, slow activity of fishing. The sport has also proven to be a popular summer activity amid a new era of social distancing, allowing people to keep their space while enjoying the outdoors.
Nearly 13 million kids under 17 took to the line and sinker in 2021—14% more than did in 2019 pre-pandemic. Kids are not required to register as fishermen except in states requiring junior licenses. While fishing has traditionally been considered a male-centric activity, that assumption has proved to be an illusion—nearly 20 million women hit the water in 2021, and over 1.6 million of them did so for the first time, proving that the sport and leisure of fishing are "catching on" throughout American life.
Freshwater fishing has almost twice as many participants as saltwater and fly fishing combined, making freshwater the clear favorite of American fishing styles.
Read on to find out how your state stacks up and for more information about the best fishing holes and species in each state.
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