If it seems as if there’s a bit less elbow room out there on your favorite lake or stream these days, it’s because there is. An American Sportfishing Association study reveals that the number of U.S. anglers has grown 11 percent since 2006 and total approximately 60 million-a hugely significant economic and political force.

The dollars that anglers provide for fisheries management, habitat conservation and fishing access through the excise tax on tackle, fishing license sales and direct donations would be almost impossible to replace.

Below are some facts about recreational fishing in the U.S.

  • One of every four anglers fishes in saltwater.
  • Fishing tackle sales grew over 16 percent in the past five years.
  • More Americans fish than play golf (21 million) and tennis (13 million) combined.
  • If fishing were a company, the amount spent by anglers to support fishing-related retail sales would rank number 51 on the Fortune 500™ list.
  • Fishing generated more revenue ($48 billion) than Lockheed Martin ($47 billion), Intel ($44 billion), Chrysler ($42 billion) or Google ($38 billion).
    – The economic activity generated by sportfishing is greater than the economy, measured in Gross State Product, of 17 states.
    – More than twice the number of people fished in 2011 than attended every NFL game combined.

The top 10 states ranked by angler expenditures are:
1. Florida
2. New York
3. Michigan 
4. Minnesota 
5. California
6. Texas
7. Ohio
8. North Carolina
9. Wisconsin
10. Virginia

The top 10 non-resident fishing destinations are:
1. Florida
2. Michigan 
3. Wisconsin
4. North Carolina
5. Alaska
6. New York
7. Oregon
8. Minnesota 
9. New Jersey
10. Missouri

The full, fascinating report is available on the American Sportfishing Association website.