Fishing reels in more anglers, survey finds
Fishing may conjure images of simpler times, but its popularity only seems to be increasing.
A federal survey released this month says that about 1.1 million people in Pennsylvania fished in 2011, an 11 percent increase over 2006.
“I do see continuously, even throughout the offseason, more people fishing,” said Robert Walters of Friendship, a fishing guide.
The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which states use to plan, develop and evaluate programs, portrays a mixed picture, however.
More people may be fishing, but they spent on average half as many days doing so in 2011, as compared with 2006, and spent 66 percent less on fishing equipment and trips in that time.
The survey is the only source of information on wildlife-related spending, said John Arway, executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission.
“The numbers are extremely important to us at the state level,” he said.
Arway said his agency's stats show that license sales dropped by 5 percent during the period the survey covered, resulting in 806,159 licenses sold in 2011.
But Walters and several other local fishing guides said they've noticed a steady increase in business.
“My weekends for the full summer were completely gone by the end of March,” said George Campbell of Verona. He has been a Lake Erie fishing guide for 10 years and has captained a boat for the past five.
Arway said such contradictions have states wondering if the survey, which the Fish and Wildlife Service produces from data collected by the Census Bureau, needs an overhaul.
“We're concerned that there may be a flaw in the survey methods,” he said.
He chairs a working group for the Association of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which is looking for ways to improve the survey.
Travis Lau, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, was less critical of the survey but agreed there are similar discrepancies between the survey's hunting figures and his agency's statistics.
In particular, the survey shows that the number of people hunting dropped by 26 percent to 755,000 people from 2006 to 2011. But the Game Commission reports that the number of hunting licenses sold in the state dropped by about 6 percent in the five-year period, Lau said.
Sylvia Cabrera, chief of Fish and Wildlife's National Survey Branch, said the survey's numbers are good. Each state has a different structure for its fishing and hunting licenses, and these and other differences makes it impractical to compare the survey results to license figures, she said.
“There's always been these differences between the state licenses and the survey going back to the '80s when they first started,” she said.
Denise Pepe, chief of the Census Bureau's Special Surveys Branch, said the overall methodology used to collect data hasn't changed, but budget constraints forced surveyors to rely more on phone interviews rather than the field interviews they previously conducted.
David Hornick, a Census Bureau statistician, said the result was that surveyors interviewed fewer people this time and, consequently, each person's answers had more of an effect on the survey's results. Despite the smaller sample size, the bureau believes it collected good data, Pepe said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman, 77, dies in Monroeville house fire
- PennDOT says inbound Fort Pitt Tunnel will close around-the-clock this weekend
- Uber gains PUC approval to operate in most of Pa. for 2 years
- New Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan institutes Wolf’s gift ban at commission
- Wintry mix of rain, freezing rain and snow bearing down on Pittsburgh area
- Psychiatrist: Man accused of setting Homestead fire not competent to stand trial
- Police stop car in Beltzhoover, find body in back seat
- Propel school sends students home because of phone threat
- 2 arrested in Wilkinsburg shooting
- Beaver County man arrested in 24-year-old Clinton County cold case
- Pa. police departments worry order on criminal seizures hurts bottom line