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Recreational fishing - a favorite pastime.

According to recent research, fishing is the favorite recreational activity for 26 percent of the American population. Trends related to fishing show that involvement in the activity has increased, and that women comprise the fastest growing segment of new anglers. Reports indicate that while fishing is still preferred by more men than women, it is quickly becoming a family activity.

Previous research has suggested that racial differences exist in fishing behaviors - whites fish for diversion while blacks and immigrant groups living in the southeastern United States fish for consumption. Researchers wanting to learn more about race, gender, and fishing behaviors solicited 124 people in rural Mississippi who had fished in the past year to be subjects in a study. Members of the study lived near lakes, rivers, and streams and had easy access to fishing spots. Trained interviewers queried adult anglers and received an 88 percent response rate.

Prior to collecting data, the researchers engaged in observation, participant observation, and informal interviews to determine the most important and relevant characteristics of fishing practices. This enabled them to interpret the results with greater accuracy. Among other questions, respondents were asked to rate eleven different reasons for fishing - including to be outdoors, for family recreation, for relaxation, to get fish for eating, and to get away from the demands of others - as "not at all important" to "extremely important."

The researchers conducted statistical analyses that enabled them to collapse the responses into categories. These categories tell us what elements of fishing are important to various groups of anglers. When examining the data for blacks, three factors, or categories, emerged: holistic leisure (e.g., to be outdoors, for relaxation), economic-social network (e.g., to get fish to sell, to get fish for fish frys or other social events), and subsistence (e.g., to get fish for eating). For whites five factors emerged: family leisure (e.g., for family recreation, for relaxation), sport (e.g., to be outdoors, for the challenge or sport), sociability (e.g., to be with friends), economic-barter network (e.g., to get fish to sell, to get fish to trade or swap for other things), and social network (e.g., to get fish for fish frys or other social events).

Differences were also found among women and men. In examining the data, women's categories included: family leisure (e.g., for family recreation, to get away from the demands of others or daily routine), sport-social network (e.g., for the challenge or sport, to get fish for fish frys or other social events), economic-barter network (e.g., to get fish to sell, to get fish to trade or swap for other things), and sociability (e.g., to get fish for fish frys or other social events). Men's categories were similar: family-social network (e.g., to get fish to give away to friends or relatives, to get fish for fish frys or other social events), family leisure (e.g., for family recreation, to get away from demand of others or daily routine), sport-sociability (e.g., to be with friends, for the challenge or sport), and an economic-barter network (e.g., to get fish to sell, to get fish to trade or swap for other things).

Implications for camp

What do the differences in fishing categories have to do with organized camping? Fishing is an activity that is found at most camps that have access to a body of water. It is an activity that is low cost, relatively easy to do, and accessible to a wide range of people.

Other research tells us that the activities people are exposed to in childhood have a great impact on their leisure choices as adults. Therefore, camps can guide and influence children to adopt healthy leisure lifestyles. The social component of fishing is important as well. Including other people in the activity, whether in the act of fishing or some exchange after the fish are caught was common to all respondents. This aspect of recreational fishing can be enhanced at camp by ensuring through programming that fishing efforts allow for social opportunities as well as skill development.

J. Toth, Jr. & R. Brown (1997). Racial and gender meaning of why people participate in recreational fishing, Leisure Sciences, 19(2), 129-146.

Deb Jordan, Re.D., is an associate professor of leisure studies at Oklahoma State University. Send your letters and one-page summaries of research related to camp to: Research Notes, c/o Dr. Deb Jordan, Leisure Studies, 107 Colvin Center, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078. Note: Only research completed within the past two years will be considered for review.
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Title Annotation:Studies in Integration and Recreational Fishing
Author:Jordan, Debra J.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1997
Words:763
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