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A Snapshot of Florida Anglers

Angler composition, behaviors and attitudes

Freshwater anglers comprise 39% of the 3.1 million anglers in Florida and freshwater fishing contributes $1.7 billion to Florida’s economy annually (USFWS, 2011; Southwick 2012). With such a large recreational presence, it is important to understand the characteristics, behaviors, and perspectives of this state’s diverse anglers, allowing managers to make better informed decisions that enhance fishing experiences on Florida’s freshwater systems. This summary goes over some of the general results of the survey. For a more detailed summary, please see the full project report.

Introduction and methods
To understand angler opinions and attitudes, surveyed a random sample of freshwater license holders. The survey included motivations to fish, fishing preferences, and attitudes towards management issues. A total of 35,780 surveys were distributed with 3,277 responses.

Angler demographics and behaviors

Most of our respondents were white, with Hispanic, black, and Asian anglers making up 16% of our responses.

Sixty-four percent of respondents were over the age of 45, 30% were between 25 and 44 years old, and 6% were between 16 and 24 years old. Of all the respondents, 15% said they had participated in at least one fishing tournament in the past year.

Florida anglers target a variety of freshwater fish, with largemouth bass being the most popular target species. When asked about sources of fishing information, the top preferred sources were word of mouth (28%), magazines/newspapers (13%), internet forums (12%), and YouTube (12%).

When asked about types of water bodies fished, public lakes and rivers were the most popular fishing sites. Anglers generally traveled less than 50 miles to fish and said they fished for half a day or less.

A majority of anglers (62%) said they fished all or most of the time from a motorboat while 29% said they fished all or most of the time from banks or piers.

In addition to understanding the composition and behaviors of anglers, in general, we also asked people to identify if they considered themselves primarily bass anglers. Fifty-two percent of anglers considered themselves primarily largemouth bass anglers. When asked about their preference for the location of hydrilla, most bass anglers wanted 30% of a water body to contain hydrilla.

When asked where they preferred hydrilla to be located in order to improve bass fishing, 36% of bass anglers preferred the emergent zone, 9% preferred just outside the emergent zone, 15% preferred offshore, and 36% did not know which area they preferred.  For more detailed information about bass-specific items, please see the full report. 


This survey provided a broad overview of Florida freshwater angler behaviors and opinions. The goals of this project were not to make specific management recommendations, but to explore stakeholder behaviors and perspectives and to present managers with baseline information that might encourage more in-depth research of angler perspectives on specific management issues.