Recreational fishing brings around $3.5 billion to the state economy each year, including $395 million to the South Coast, a University of Wollongong survey shows.
It found that fishermen spent more than $1.5 billion on fishing expenses in the state in 2012, including travel, tackle and boat-related items.
The survey was commissioned by the state government and funded by the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.
The study says there are about 900,000 anglers in the state.
Anglers fished on average 14.6 days each year - 6 per cent of anglers fished more than 40 days a year.
The survey also found recreational fishing created 14,254 full-time jobs.
"This snapshot shows how valuable recreational fishing is to our communities," Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said.
"Recreational fishing is a vibrant and important part of both coastal and inland communities, and it's important we have a clear understanding of the benefits it provides to our regional areas."
Total expenditure in the South Coast was $395.2 million compared to Sydney ($1 billion) and North Coast ($734 million).
In relative terms, the economic impact of recreational fishing on the South Coast economy - as a percentage of income and employment impact - was double that of the North Coast and up to eight times greater than that of Sydney.
The survey found when it came to fishing trips, the average fisher spent $154 on trip-related items, including $70 on road travel.
Another $71 was spent on tackle and boat fuel.
All up, the survey said, the total expenditure per angler was $225 per trip.