The Value of Largemouth Bass to Florida's Economy

Compiled by: Bob Wattendorf

  • Although expenditures are a useful indicator of the importance of sport fishing activities to businesses, local, regional, state and national economies, they do not measure the economic benefit to individual participants, nor do they touch on the true recreational benefits that enliven the soul, and help people escape the stresses of everyday life and to  reconnect with nature, family and friends.
  • Freshwater sportfishing in Florida provided recreational opportunities for over 1.1 million residents, over age 16, plus more than a quarter million non-residents.  Together they generated an economic output of $2.4 billion in 2006 (See the consumer price index calculator to update these figures).
  • Florida freshwater recreational fishing generated 23,500 jobs with direct spending of $ 1.4 billion in 2006.
  • Florida freshwater fishing provided 24.5 million angler days of recreation (94% resident) based on 20.3 million trips. (A trip is from the time someone leaves home until they return and may include many days, a day is defined by activity on a specific day.)
  • Black bass anglers fished a total of 14.7 million days in Florida, for an average of 17 days per angler in 2006.
  • An "average" Florida freshwater fishing trip per a 1997 FSU study lasted 5.4 hours.
  • National research compiled by Dr. Tony Fedler indicates in 1996 the modal family income for black bass anglers was $30,000-$50,000. Of all black bass anglers that decreased their fishing effort, less than 5% indicated cost (total not license) was the reason for cutting back.
  • The "Net economic value" for bass from the Southeast Region was $52 (adjusts to $59), in 1996, with an economic value per day of $3.00 (adjusts to $3.40). (Net economic value is estimated using contingent valuation. Contingent valuation is a direct questioning approach by which individuals are asked to reveal the value (willingness to pay) they place on an item or activity within a survey setting. Net economic value, or consumer surplus, is the appropriate economic measure of the benefit to individuals from participation in wildlife-related recreation.
  • An average of 59 bass are caught by an individual angler per year in the Southeast Region, leading to a marginal value per bass of $3.81 (adjusts to $4.32). (The marginal values show the change in net economic value per year that would result from changing the average catch rate by one fish per year.)
  • Anglers spent an average of $18.20 per hour fishing in Florida fresh waters in 1996 (adjusts to $20.65 for 2002); for a nonresident bass angler that figure is $43.89 (adjusts to $49.79 for 2002).
  • Resident angler demographics, as of 2006, were 71% male, 52% have attended college, 60% are married, 90% are white, 7% are African-American and 8% from Hispanic linguistic groups.
  • As an aside Florida holds the top-five 5-fish bag results for BASS tournaments:  BASS' all-time heaviest one-day catch list, as of May 2005 is:
1. 45-02 Dean Rojas 1/17/01 Lake Toho, FL
2. 41-10 Mark Davis 1/18/01 Lake Toho, FL
3. 36-9 Jay Yelas 1/18/01 Lake Toho, FL
4. 35-1 Gary Neimi 5/01/05 Lake Okeechobee, FL
5. 34-10 Aaron Martens 1/17/01 Lake Toho, FL


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service contracts the U.S. Census Bureau every five years to conduct a "National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation" Adobe PDF. That survey is the basis for numerous more refined analyses of the value of fishing, including the USFWS's individual State Overview for Florida, "The 2001 Black Bass Report", and the "Sportfishing in America--Values of  Our Traditional Pastime" which was produced by the American Sportfishing Association and the information on the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus Web site. These definitive documents are the source for the above summary points.

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