U.S. F&W Survey Indicates Fewer People are Trout Fishing

From this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A nationwide decline in trout fishing participation, documented in a just-released survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, could impact the future of state-run trout stocking programs. The study, a tediously researched addition to the "2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation," shows that as participation in traditional forms of outdoor recreation wanes, the number of Americans who fish for trout is also declining. _Linked to the U.S. Census and conducted about every five years since 1955, the survey is used as a baseline for federal, state and industry analysis of American spending on outdoor recreation. Investment in trout stocking-programs in Mid-Atlantic states such as Pennsylvania, where most of the trout caught by anglers are raised in hatcheries and stocked, could be impacted by the findings of the report's new supplement.

Sought by 6.8 million anglers in 2006, trout remain the fourth most pursued sport fish in the United States, after largemouth and small mouth bass, panfish and catfish. The report shows that as the number of freshwater anglers has declined from 29 million in 1996 to 25 million in 2006, with a precipitous drop of 3 million from 2001-2006, participation in trout fishing has mirrored the trend. Nationwide, trout-fishing participation has declined from around 9 million anglers in 1996 to 6.8 million in 2006. Curiously, as the number of trout anglers decreases, the average number of fishing days per angler has remained constant.

"Though participation in trout fishing is down from 1996 to 2006, on average the 11 days anglers spend fishing has remained constant," wrote the report's author, Anna Harris of the agency's Division of Policy and Programs. "... One explanation for the decrease in angler participation but the consistency in average fishing days per angler may be related to demographic characteristics, such as an aging population of freshwater and trout anglers. "Nationwide, 27 percent of all freshwater anglers fished for trout in 2006, with the largest number of trout anglers in California, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Individually, each trout angler spent an average of $712 on the sport in 2006. That's significantly less than the $982 spent by freshwater anglers in general, reflecting, the report suggests, higher boating costs associated with bass fishing. Nevertheless, the economic impact of trout fishing in the United States in 2006 exceeded $4.8 billion, with an estimated ripple effect of over $13.5 billion and support of over 100,000 jobs._

Your thoughts? Anyone seeing an observable decline of anglers on the water?