Is Fishing a Sport?

It’s an age-old debate, “Is fishing a sport?” or is it merely a leisure activity? An argument can be made for both sides of the issue, sure. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the proof is in the perch.

For those doubting the athleticism and skill necessary for competitive fishing, here are just a few of the most compelling reasons fishing is definitely a “reel” sport.

Fishing Promotes Mental Health and Toughness

Have you ever lost yourself in focused thought while out on the golf course? What about while shooting hoops or playing catch? This focused mental state is commonly referred to as single-pointed concentration.

It’s a real state of mind many in the mindfulness or meditation industry try to simulate. In fact, according to Buddhist practitioners, concentrated meditation (like what takes place during many athletic endeavors), calms and stabilizes the brain.

It allows for clearer insight and understanding of more important things. It’s a popular way to reduce stress, anxiety, and nerves. Can you think of a better way to enter a state of single-pointed concentration than by sitting on a boat or dock, fishing?

In a world spinning with noise and distraction, sport fishing is an excellent way to enhance mental health.

Just like going for a jog, doing yoga, or cross-country skiing, fishing requires physical exertion while allowing the mind to enter a focused train of thought that frees the athlete from outside distractions. Think about it, when was the last time you saw someone looking stressed while fly fishing?

The Japanese study of “shinrin-yoku” also supports this idea. Researchers found that individuals (like fishermen), who spent only a few hours in a wooded location vs. a city had lower cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rates.

Of course, fishing doesn’t just offer the same mental benefits as other sports do. It also proves itself a true sport by offering amazing physical benefits.

The Physical Benefits of Fishing

If you think all fishing entails is sitting in a camping chair, drinking a beer, and waiting for the line to wiggle, you’ve obviously never been deep-sea or big bass fishing…

These endeavors demand extreme strength and physical endurance. Fishermen are forced to battle fish that can weigh hundreds of pounds, the water, the waves, and the forces working against them from pulling that fish onto the boat.

Many anglers prove their endurance while battling a fish for as long as 15-20 minutes. Having the stamina and strength to accomplish this requires the preparation of any other athlete. Adequate sleep, training, and nutrition are all components that play into an angler’s ability to succeed at their sport.

No, deep-sea fishing and other similar forms of fishing are definitely not for the faint of heart…or a couch potato.

As most other sports do, fishing offers its participants high-intensity cardio.

To be a great fisherman also requires flexibility. You not only need the muscle mass to win against the fish, but you also need the dexterity to bait a hook and reel.

Have you ever traversed a rocky riverbed while balancing against a strong river current? Fishermen do it all the time. They hike up steep and slippery slopes looking for somewhere new to wet their line.

This builds muscular strength and repeatedly casting and reeling fine-tune hand-eye coordination while strengthening muscles in wrists, hands, forearms, shoulders, and more.

Perhaps if more baseball or tennis players took up fishing, they’d see some amazing improvements in their coordination…

Even just being outdoors for the extended time required by the sport of fishing enhances physical health. These athletes enjoy more vitamin D, fresh air, and less time in front of a screen–all benefits to physical fitness.

Life Skills Learned from Fishing

If you think rock climbing or snow-shoeing teaches perseverance, try fishing! Like so many other sports, fishing teaches individuals, especially youth, valuable life skills.

Everything from leadership, teamwork, perseverance, confidence, patience, and self-discipline are essential to improving and perfecting fishing. Many fishing tournaments give participants the opportunity to work together with teammates in accomplishing a goal. They also promote the importance of good sportsmanship when winning or losing.

When you teach a child to fish, you not only teach them a valuable skill that enables self-sufficiency, (now they have the ability to obtain their own food for goodness sake!), you provide them a medium for growing personally.

Think of the inner confidence that comes each time you reel in a big one. Think of the sense of accomplishment after exercising great patience while waiting for a catch. Think of the need for determination and sticking with a task until it “sticks to you,” entailed in fishing.

The personal traits developed through the sport of fishing are priceless.

Fishing Strengthens Social Skills

While many consider fishing a cathartic solitary endeavor, like many other sports, it’s also a great way to build social skills.

There’s a reason every other country song includes lyrics about “fishing with pop”. The opportunity to be still outdoors, enjoying a shared purpose opens the door to conversation. Fishing with friends and family is a great way to strengthen bonds and build relationships.

It creates lasting memories that kids and adults can treasure.

For parents, teaching a child to fish is just as valuable to nurturing positive relationships as tossing around a football.

Fishing Requires Strategy

When interviewed about what makes her a champion tennis player, Serena Williams often says it comes down to mental toughness. She attributes so much of her success to her strategy of mental toughness.

She doesn’t go into a match without a winning strategy in mind. That strategy must also be adjusted throughout a match as things change or obstacles pop up.

So the question is, is fishing a sport? Another way to put that may be, “does fishing require strategy?” The answer to both is: yes.

Not only do you need Serena Williams’ strategy of mental toughness to be successful at fishing, but you need the strategy of adaptation. You have to know when, where, and how to defeat your “opponent”. So much planning, practice, and education go into knowing how to be a successful fisherman.

Different types of fishing require different strategies. Still, some of the basic strategies across all types of fishing include:

  • The best location
  • Knowing the best time of day to find your desired catch
  • The kind of bait to use for a particular fish
  • The style of casting necessary
  • The speed of reeling based on the weight and size of the fish
  • The equipment needed
  • The length of time necessary for success

and much more! While it’s true that “anyone can fish,” not everyone understands the vast nuances and strategizing necessary to be good at fishing.

Take a Look at History

Is fishing a sport? If all the evidence so far still hasn’t convinced you, consider trying an appeal to history.

The earliest indications of mankind’s fishing date back 40,000 years. That’s a lot longer than people have been playing basketball…

Throughout the ages, mankind has relied heavily on fishing to sustain life. It has served as the crux of many civilizations and their survival.

The spear, net, and rod were not easy tools to use. Fishermen throughout the history of the world have relied on their own athleticism, skill, strategy, and mental toughness to survive.

According to Merriam’s dictionary, an athlete is defined as someone who, “is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.”

If you think fishing with a spear or net doesn’t require “physical strength, agility, or stamina,” you’ve obviously never tried it. Looking at history, the argument could easily be made that the sport of fishing is not only one of the oldest but one of the most pervasive sports of all time.

Is Fishing a Sport? You Bet Your Bass!

The question, “Is fishing a sport?” can only be answered one way: You bet your Bass it is! Stack any commonly acknowledged “sport” up against fishing and compare the two.

In all categories, sport fishing holds its own. There is no doubt that fishing requires all the same skills and athleticism while also offering many of the same benefits as other popular sports.

For more interesting articles about the sport of fishing, browse our blog. We have a Reel Passion for fishing and love to share tips, useful products, and insights into the world of fishing with our readers.