Last week, a fisherman asked, “Do I need to have a fishing license if I’m taking my grandson fishing?”
I wanted to ask him, “It’s July — and you don’t have a fishing license yet?”
He said he would go buy a one-day license. It caused me to remember a conversation with a friend from some time back. It was September and I asked him to go fishing. He didn’t want to, although we both knew he needed to (he was in law school at the time). When I finally squeezed the real reason out of him, it was that the year had slipped into the ninth month and he didn’t want to buy a 12-month license with only three months left.
Ever since I have been of licensable age, the main priority of any January was to have enough dollars in my pocket to buy a fishing license. A lot of my fellow anglers are not so avid.
Many people call themselves fishermen, but for whatever reason do not buy licenses every year. According to a recent report from Southwick Associates, only 4 percent of anglers purchased a fishing license in each of the last 10 years.
Part of the reason stems from motivation. According to the report, the top three reasons for fishing are: 1: To spend time with family and friends. 2: To relax. 3: For the sport or recreation.
Isn’t any one of those reasons enough to buy a license and go fishing? Fishing, according to the report, appeals to new recruits for the relaxation, while serious anglers seek excitement.
One of the most important points in the report was that 50 percent of anglers who fish year after year started fishing when they were 5 or younger. Somehow they caught a thrill and they keep wanting to repeat it. That’s me.
Eighty percent of new license buyers fished when they were children.
Licensed anglers can be divided into three groups: avid anglers who purchase a license two years in a row; recruited anglers (new fishermen) and reactivated anglers who have a license this year and fished in at least one of the previous five years, but not the immediate preceding one.
I was startled by the report. I thought fishermen were fishermen. It’s apparent they are not. It caused me to recall that people who put fly-fishing on their bucket list don’t intend to become fly fishermen, they just want to check it off and say they accomplished it.
Based on license sales records from 12 states, the survey attempts to find out who anglers really are. Every U.S. household is assigned to one of 14 distinct neighborhood types, known as LifeModes, which are divided into a total of 68 Tapestry segments that make up the U.S. population. For a map of Tapestry Segmentation — the fabric of America’s neighborhoods, click on http://www.esri.com/library/fliers/pdfs/tapestry_segmentation.pdf.
The four LifeModes where a majority of fishermen come from are: Cozy Country Living, Rustic Outposts, GenXurban and Family Landscapes. People in these communities are 59 percent more likely to fish than the average American.
Anglers can come from any of the 68 U.S. tapestries, but people that fall into the following groups are twice as likely to fish.
Folks from Green Acres tend to be married couples, white collar, outdoorsy and self-reliant — gardeners, fishermen and hunters, active in their communities.
Slightly older, with a median age of 40, Southern Satellites have blue-collar jobs, obtain their information from TV and listen to country music.
The third most important angling tapestry is Middleburg. This is where the suburbs meet the country, younger couples with children. Family-oriented and tech-savvy, they are thrifty and prefer to buy American-made.
The Salt of the Earth represent 4.7 percent of anglers. They are older, empty-nesters from manufacturing and related industries. Many are from the rural Midwest and prefer to conduct business in person.
Soccer Moms, also known as parenting professionals, have school-aged children, work in cities, are affluent and willing to pay for time-saving services. They look for family-oriented activities to accessorize their suburban lifestyles.
In descending order of license buyers, we find Rural Resort Dwellers, the Great Outdoors, Savvy Suburbanites, Up & Coming Families and Rooted Rural.
These tapestries picture the fabric of our lives, and often the images show us on the water waving our wands, plying the depths, seeking relaxation or sport in moments bright and brief.
I thought of the people I met at Paulina Lake last week in terms of the various tapestries they represented. I met a family from Prineville at the launch. Perhaps they were from Middleburg. A man and a woman were fishing for kokanee waiting for their spouses to show up. Green Acres.
When we returned to the launch at dusk, there were three guys from San Diego at the end of the dock, casting for trout. One had caught a fish, a rainbow. He didn’t know what it was. I told him he had done good. Metro Fusion is my guess. He went away smiling. I should have asked if he had a license.
— Gary Lewis is the host of Frontier Unlimited TV and author of Fishing Central Oregon, Fishing Mount Hood Country, Hunting Oregon and other titles. Contact Gary at www.GaryLewisOutdoors.com.