North Carolina Sea Grant
Hook, Line & Science

Hook, Line & Science

December 16, 2019 | Dave Shaw

It depends on whether they want information about fisheries — or about what they should buy.

Research Need

Today, we are squarely in the Information Age. I know because I Googled It online to confirm. Never before has so much information been available to the public. Recently, I was astounded to read that 90% of the world’s information has been created in the last 2 years!

But with this much information available, people obviously are often asking similar questions and getting different answers from various sources.

If you recall, this is a subject of great interest to us — and one of the reasons we conducted our survey with anglers in 2017. It turns out, many other organizations and businesses that provide goods, services, and information to anglers are also interested in angler opinions about which sources they trust.

With the constant barrage of information about fisheries newly available to anglers — from stock assessments to online fishing forums — how do anglers actually prefer to get their information?

What Did They Study?

Research and marketing firms often use voluntary surveys to gauge public opinion and glean information about consumer habits and trends. Southwick Associates, for instance, specializes in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing, and outdoor recreation markets. The firm runs, a survey distributed every two months to anglers across the country to collect information about fishing behavior and purchases.

The March-April 2019 edition of the survey included two additional questions to determine who anglers trust for information about fisheries and for advice on fishing purchases.

What Did They Find?

According to the survey results, anglers in the United States consider state or federal wildlife agencies, fisheries scientists, and other fishermen (through personal communications, forums, social media, and other avenues) to be the most credible sources of information related to fisheries. Speaking as a fisheries scientist who works for a university program, I am happy to see that anglers include state and federal agency information as among the most credible sources for fisheries information.

Those same anglers consider other fishermen, guides and outfitters, and professional and competitive tournament anglers to be the top sources of information when considering their next fishing purchases.

Interestingly, the only group to make the top three for both questions was “other fishermen.”

So What?

No single survey or stand-alone study can definitively determine anglers’ attitudes. Consider how you might respond to each of these questions. Sentiments change, as do thoughts and preferences for information, but ongoing surveys like this can provide valuable insight for both providers and consumers.

If you find posts like this informative, please consider sharing this post (from a fisheries scientist) with “other fishermen.”

Reading is national survey conducted bi-monthly by Southwick Associates. Per the organization, the survey is “used to inform state fisheries agencies and the sportfishing industry about anglers’ habits, interests and preferences to help them create better fishing opportunities.”

Summary and bar graphs by Scott Baker
Lead photo courtesy of

The text from Hook, Line & Science is available to reprint and republish, but only in its entirety and with this attribution: Hook, Line & Science, courtesy of Scott Baker and Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant.


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