USA Recreational Fishing Statistics 2016

Atlantic croaker fish
Atlantic Croaker

Virginia was the top state for recreational catches of spot and croaker, according to a recent economic report from NOAA Fisheries.

The report, Fisheries Economics of the United States 2016, is the 11th volume in an annual series designed to give the public accessible economic information on fishing and seafood in the U.S., and is a companion to Fisheries of the United States.

Fisheries Economics of the United States, published each fall, provides a detailed look at the economic performance of commercial and recreational fisheries and other marine-related sectors on a state, regional, and national basis.

The report provides information about fishing trips, participation, and the harvest and release numbers of 10 key species or species groups in the USA.

Fisheries Economics of the United States 2016 Highlights


In 2016, anglers took approximately 63.3 million saltwater fishing trips in the USA. West Florida anglers took the most fishing trips, followed by those in East Florida, and North Carolina. This number represents a 28% decrease from 2007 and a 3% increase from 2015.

Seatrouts (36.4 million fish), Atlantic croaker and spot (19.3 million fish), and summer flounder (14.2 million fish), were most frequently caught by recreational fishermen in the United States.

West Florida caught the most seatrouts (11.9 million fish), Virginia caught the most Atlantic croaker and spot (5.6 million fish), and New Jersey caught the most summer flounder (6.9 million fish). Alaska caught the most Pacific halibut (643,000 fish), and more striped bass (5.1 million fish) was caught in Maryland than in any other state.

Economic impacts from recreational fishing activities supported 472,000 jobs across the United States in 2016 (see Table 9). Recreational fishing also generated about $67.9 billion in sales impacts, $24.3 billion in income impacts, and $38.7 billion in value-added impacts.

Mid Atlantic Region:

In 2016, there were 2.4 million recreational anglers who fished in the Mid-Atlantic Region. This number represented a 30% decrease from 2007 and a 21% increase from 2015. These anglers were Mid-Atlantic Region residents from either a coastal county (93%) or non-coastal county (7%).

Recreational fishermen took 14 million fishing trips in the Mid-Atlantic Region during 2016. This number represented a 37% decrease from 2007 and a 13% increase from 2015.

In the Mid Atlantic Region, summer flounder (12.2 million fish), black sea bass (9.3 million fish), and striped bass (8.6 million fish) were most frequently caught by recreational fishermen.


The number of people that participated in recreational saltwater fishing in Virginia increased from the previous year. The number of trips taken also increased.

Key species for recreational anglers fishing in Virginia included Atlantic croaker, spot, spotted seatrout (speckled trout), red drum, summer flounder, black sea bass, striped bass, cobia, tautog. More croakers and spot were kept than released; for all other species, the number of fish released exceeded those harvested.

In 2016, key species for the Virginia commercial fishing industry included blue crab, menhaden, oysters, sea scallops, summer flounder, Atlantic croaker, spot, black sea bass, monkfish, and striped bass.

source: NOAA Fisheries