Sunday, April 17, 2016

Women The Focus Of Recruitment In Fishing Circles


If there's one day a year that's likely to put even the most casual anglers on the water, it's opening day of trout season.
So how many women did you see casting a line Saturday?
Not many, probably, proportionately speaking.
Women have been one of the fastest-growing components of the outdoors — fishing, shooting and hunting — in recent years but still represent a fraction of the people on the water and in the woods.
That seems especially true in Pennsylvania.
A 2011 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that about 27 percent of anglers nationally are female.
However, Carl Richardson, education section manager for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, said that while women make up 56 percent of Pennsylvania's population, just 6.6 percent of them buy a fishing license in a given year.
Richardson said some survey work determined that three times as many women call themselves anglers as actually buy a license from year to year.
“So we have a big audience that's dropping out,” he said.
The commission wants to address that by year's end.
An internal commission work group of female employees has met twice to figure out how to keep women fishing. Members include women who are avid anglers, as well as those who occasionally fish and some who don't fish at all, Richardson said.
One thing that's clear is women — unlike men — don't necessarily fish to catch fish, Richardson said. They talk about wanting to spend time with family, to be outdoors and relax, he said.
The work group's task is to figure out how to take that information and craft a female-angler recruitment, retention and reactivation plan by this fall. Richardson hopes to present a strategy to commissioners at their September meeting and initiate it in time for 2017 licenses to go on sale Dec. 1.
Commissioners had suggestions for the plan.
Norm Gavlick of Luzerne County runs a combination gun and bait shop and said the key to success is showing customers “added value.” The commission needs to do the same with women who might fish.
“You buy a fishing license, it allows you to fish. But what else do you get?” Gavlick said.
He also suggested the commission do a better job making women, especially single moms, aware they can borrow fishing equipment for a day from commission and many state park offices.
Commissioner Glade Squires of Chester County agreed, suggesting the agency market itself to women by creating learn-to-fish seminars for them.
The potential payoff is huge, commission president Ed Mascharka of Erie County said. He said women account for only about 64,000 of the 800,000 licenses being sold.
“That's nothing compared to the millions of women who are possible license buyers,” he said.
Bob Frye is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter@bobfryeoutdoors.

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