National Fishing and Boating Week: Q & A with Stephanie Vatalaro

The kids are off to soccer practice, mom’s gardening, and dad is out golfing. Sounds like a pretty outdoorsy family, right? Maybe so, but none of these activities are done as an actual family. While these are all great activities, they general attract a certain age or gender group. That means some families never get outside together.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Stephanie Vatalaro, the Director of Communications at the Recreational Fishing & Boating Foundation, shares how easy it is for anyone to go fishing and boating no matter your age or gender. She also highlights National Fishing and Boating Week (NFBW), a great time to start fishing and boating; especially as a family.

Rebekah: Why is the NFBW week June 1-9?
Stephanie: It’s right after Memorial Day, and that’s usually the kick off season for most boaters and anglers.

Rebekah: What type of events can people get involved in during NFBW?
Stephanie: While we are a national organization, we work to make sure that there are local events for everyone. Events like  regattas, festivals, and boating demonstrations are all things that take place on the local level. People can check out our website,, to see what will be happening in their area.

Rebekah: What do you suggest to people who have never fished or boated? How can they get started?
Stephanie: NFBW is actually a perfect time for someone to try out fishing. Most states offer free fishing days during this time. That allows people to go license free, so it’s a great time to test it out.

Other than that, researching before going out is always helpful. Looking at our interactive map can help you find a navigable body of water close to you. We also have a guide to the basics of boating and fishing.

Rebekah: Why should someone want to get involved in fishing and boating? What are the benefits?
Stephanie: Oh my goodness! Being a boater and angler myself, I know that there is a thrill of being in the outdoors; it is just a wonderful feeling. Studies show that it actually relieves stress.

You can also feel good about participating, because the money you pay for your license goes back to the state to help keep the waterways clean. The more people that participate, the cleaner we can keep the water.

Rebekah: With “90 percent of Americans living within an hour of navigable water”, why do you think many people don’t take advantage of the opportunities that gives?
Stephanie: There must be an intimidation factor. I grew up around water, so I’ve never had that problem. But if you don’t know what’s involved or you don’t think you have the skills, it’s easy to not take the time to start. Sadly many people don’t realize how easy, accessible, affordable and fun fishing can be.

Rebekah: Do you predict that it will become harder to fish and boat in the future due to environmental concerns?
Stephanie: I’m not an expert in that area, but what I’ve been hearing is that our resources are looking pretty good. The beauty is, the more people that are participating, the more dollars there are to go back to the water.

Rebekah: How can people fish and boat in an environmentally friendly way?
Stephanie: Anglers and boaters should follow the “golden rules” of fishing, respecting the habitat and leaving it cleaner than you found it. That means if you see trash, pick it up. We also encourage anglers to keep only as many fish as legally allowed and that will be eaten, practicing  catch and release if you’re not going to use the fish.

Rebekah: Why do you think there is such a rise in female anglers?
Stephanie: It’s an interesting trend, but right now there’s no hard data to help us understand the trend. We are seeing more families doing things together and there is a nationwide push to get active and get outdoors. This makes me wonder if families are taking up fishing because it’s  a great and affordable way to do that.

Rebekah: Have you seen any other changes in fishing and boating recently?
Stephanie: Another trend that we’re seeing is a growth in seniors. I’m not sure why, it may just be all of the baby boomers who have more leisure time. But many of these grandparents may also bring their grandkids, which means that we could also see a rise in the number of kids coming out.

Rebekah: How do you personally celebrate NFBW?
Stephanie: We have a boat that we keep on the Chesapeake Bay, and we always invite friends who have maybe never fished or boated before. It’s a great opportunity for us to introduce friends to the joys of fishing and boating. We also get together with family, and do plenty of fishing and boating with them as well.