[photo above] Kyle Janny, 2, fishes using a rod and reel with his dad Dave Janny on Aug. 11 at the Junior Bash kids' fishing day at Swift Ponds. Fishing sales nationwide are flat, but fly-fishing appears to be going strong in Northern Colorado, according to local outfitters.
Local fishers cast away, bucking the national trend
New fly-fishers, women anglers hooked by sport
BY KELLI LACKETT
Long a classic American outdoor activity, fishing has been slipping in popularity.
Anglers are aging, and fishing sales nationally have stagnated, according to a May U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey. In Colorado, the number of anglers has dropped by 26 percent since 2001.
"The trends are showing that things are (still) downward," said Frank Peterson, president and CEO of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1998 to try to halt the long-term decline.
"I won't kid you. We are fighting some other circumstances - video games, and kids not being outdoors."
Interest grows in fly-fishing
But local fly-fishing suppliers, said that fly-fishing seems to be the exception to this downward trend.
"I've noticed the opposite really," said Grant Houx, owner of St. Peter's Fly Shop, 202 Remington St.
Gordon Waldmier, owner of Angler's Roost Fly Fishing Co., 925 E. Harmony Road, Suite 200, agreed. "We have seen slow, steady growth," he said. "More and more people are trying fly-fishing."
Mark Damian Duda of Responsive Management, an outdoor research group in Harrisonburg, Va., said the nation's demographic shift from rural locations to urban ones is the biggest reason for the decline in fishing's popularity..
Then there's the plethora of activities luring kids and parents.
"Thirty years ago, people would get up and go fishing,'' he said. "Now, you get up and you have a soccer game at 9, a baseball game at 11, a team picnic at 1."
Houx and Waldmier agreed that there are many activities competing for children's - and their parents' - time.
Women picking up rods
In the past three to five years, women, not kids, have been the demographic driving growth in the regional fly-fishing market.
"More and more women students are in our fly-fishing classes," Gordon said. "We have a full line of women's fly-fishing clothing and accessories." And there are more women-only programs and events, he said.
Some women are fishing with their husbands or boyfriends, but not all, Waldmier said.
"Some of the ladies that come in as regulars - I saw one yesterday and she said, 'I just found a new woman to fly-fish with,' " Waldmier said.
Making fishing appealing to children and teenagers is a little trickier, Houx and Waldmier said.
"I think that is something we need to work on - getting more youth into it," Houx said.
On Aug. 11, Markley Motors, Interstate Battery, JAX Outdoor Gear, Summer's Auto Repair and Supply and Majestic West Custom Eroidery sponsored at kids' fishing day at Swift Ponds in an effort to introduce kids to fishing.
St. Peter's Fly Shop supports Trout Unlimited programs, and offers an annual kids' fishing day. This year, it's on Sept. 9.
Angler's Roost has helped with fishing programs at the Ben Delatour Boy Scout Camp in Red Feather Lakes and has made presentations to local Boy Scout troops.
"I think that as in any sport, it takes parent involvement," Houx said.