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RBFF’s lapsed angler program is a winner

If the industry adage is true, fishermen will remain active in the boating market even in tough times. I know several dealers who readily confirm that without the anglers who are still buying boats, their dealerships would be DOA. So, the worth of fishing to our industry cannot be overstated.

That’s why we can applaud the newest program developed by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) aimed at bringing back anglers who have stopped fishing, as evidenced by their failure to repurchase a fishing license.

The program kicks off this month with a whopping 30 states slated to participate. These states will send postcards, self-mailers and letters that encourage anglers to return to fishing, buy their fishing license and, by doing so, support important aquatic conservation efforts and educational programs.

Participating states have already received the creative elements from RBFF that feature a “wood grain” background and icons for boating, fishing, family and conservation. If you’ve ever seen the “Take Me Fishing” TV commercials or print ads, you know of the excellent materials produced by RBFF. The resources for the lapsed angler program are the same caliber. 

In addition, beginning this month, the participating states will be receiving radio advertising and public relations support. And, this week, Frank Peterson, RBFF President and CEO, will update the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference on the lapsed angler recruitment program – and encourage additional states to sign on.

States not participating, but should, include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Since 1998, the non-profit RBFF has been implementing a national outreach campaign designed to increase recreational boating and fishing participation and promote conservation and responsible use of the nation’s aquatic resources.

The RBFF chairman of the board is Thom Dammrich, the NMMA president. Funding comes from the federal Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund (often dubbed the Wallop-Breaux fund.) Last year alone $7.5 million was spent on consumer ads and PR, promoting boating and fishing.

For dealers, the RBFF has a variety of excellent materials and aids available. If you’re not using some of them in your store, in your ad campaigns or at your customer events, check it out at


5 comments on “RBFF’s lapsed angler program is a winner

  1. Doug Reimel

    It is amazing how the Fisherman is ignored until the glamour boats are not selling. Fishing traditionally is wrongly viewed as a beer drinking adventure. This is so not true. We run several tournaments a year on Lake Erie and the Detroit River. Stop by and take a look at the equipment that is purchased to fish a tournament. Tow vehicle purchase $20,000 to $55,000. Boat Purchase $30,000 to $65,000, Electonics purchased $500 to $4000, Fishing Rods and Reals $100 to $350 times 20 units equalling $2,000 to $7,000. I can go on. You get the picture Fisherman spend money because it is a Life Choice to be in the Great Outdoors. It is done with purpose. In Detroit the Outdoor shows and Fishing Shows have Excellent attendance while the Boat shows are for the most part declining attendence because they have ignored the fisherman.

    Maybe I should just keep this to my self and don’t tell anybody.

  2. Franklin Pillsbury IV

    Great to see RBFF doing these programs,and for the Nationaal stories/marketing.
    BUT—there is major dis-conect between the National efforts,and the lack of “Call to Action” at the grass roots level.

    I have tryed contacting the RBFF office on several ocasions,and yet to hear back.We have two large Boat Shows in the Dallas Ft. Worth market.I have tried to get info,and help from the RBFF for those shows.

    Dallas Ft.Worth is still growing and out performing other parts of the country.We are trying hard to get new people into Boating and Fishing,as well as keeping those in that already enjoy Boating and Fishing.

    We have been forced to create our own programs for fishing at these shows.I have e-mailed Frank Peterson twice and not herd back.

    I am all for the National efforts with “Discover Boating” and “Take Me Fishing” and the combined efforts.
    WE must figure a way to bring it to the grassroots level.Much like BASS and FLW have done with the local Bass clubs.

    Franklin Pillsbury

  3. Brad

    Here at the marina I see the fishing boats of all sizes and those guys are willing to spend the money for the sport. I see people come from out of state to go out on the charter fishing boats here. I also work part time for a small lake campground and every year for the opening of Bass, the place is full. It’s amazing the money invested in these boats. It’s interesting the number of RV’ers that are also boater/fishermen. They’re out there, we just have to aknowledge them.

  4. Pete Loftin

    Norm: Regarding fishing licenses, I say this with “tongue in cheek” and in the laughing mode– as us ol’ Geezers (or Cogers) have survived these years, and as many states recognize this, we do not have to purchase a license, thanks to their generosity! -And I understand there are more and more of us every day!
    As to the fishing fleet, I am proud to be a part of the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish tournament which is the largest single species event in the country (and possibily in the world) with the USCG permit for a thousand boats. Also one of the oldest kingish tournaments– if not the oldest at 28 years old- the GJKT has a tremendous ecconomic impact on the local economy, certainly to the marine industry, and for the boating community. I have observed boats in all configurations, from tugs to skiffs, going fishing and as they are required to meet all law enforcement regulations, to have licenses for all on board. In fact, not only local Florida issued licenses, but our neighboring Georgia state licenses if they choose to fish in those waters. Bottom line- we are blessed to have plenty of water with fish, both fresh and salt, and as such many fishing events requiring licenses– having been in the fishing boat business selling boats ain’t all that bad! What is the saying?– the Good Lord does NOT deduct from a man’s alloted time spent in fishing!!- with or without a license!

  5. Jim DeVillez

    We share your concerns about fishing, but with age demographics, and gas prices I don’t see this trend changing in the near future. Hopefully, both license sales and gas prices will level off. We opened a resort in 1966, and virtually every household in the midwest fished and had a 300 dollar john boat, and new 3 thousand dollar pickup truck. I haven’t seen a john boat on Lake Barkley this year (except my 1974 Polarcraft and 9.9 Johnson) there are still rich folks fishing here as evidenced by a proliferation of 50 grand bass boats, but we regular folks simply can’t go there. Here and on the coasts, waterfront property ownership and boating including has become a rich man’s endeavour. No middle class coming on to take up the slack. Good luck to everyone in the industry finding a way to rebuild the middle class in america!

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