Is Fishing Actually a Sport?

Is Fishing Actually a Sport?

Is fishing a sport? This is a debatable question and if you asked a hundred people, you would hear many different answers. Some feel it is while others do not. So the answer is yes and no, depending on whom you ask. It is a debate that refuses to go away and will never have a clear cut, definitive answer.

Fishing — Hobby or Sport

Before this can be answered, the first thing to do is to define what each word is considered to be.

  • Hobby — this is something that you love to do in your free time because it helps you to relax or is done for entertainment.
  • Sport — this is an activity that incorporates exertion and skill where the team or person competes against others for entertainment.

For fishing to be considered a sport to some, it needs to have three elements; physical exertion, skill, and competition. When you look at fishing, sometimes it does require physical exertion; for example, when you are fighting to land a large game fish. It also requires skill, especially if you are fly fishing. You have to have knowledge and skill in order to know how to do this type of fishing. And in fishing, there is always competition, whether it is to catch a larger fish than the one you are fishing with or to land the big one in a fishing tournament. When you look at the three elements of what is considered a sport, fishing would be considered a sport.

Fishing can also be called a hobby because many times this is something people do to relax after a hard week at work, something they like to do as a family, and more. There is no competition or physical exertion when you are just sitting on the bank enjoying the day, not caring if you catch fish or not.

Health Benefits of Fishing

Fishing can help to keep you physically fit by helping you to burn some of those unwanted calories, especially when you are trying to land the big one. A lot of exertion goes into wrestling with a large game fish for fifteen minutes or more. It can also help you to relax, unwind, and relieve any stress you may be under. It is the perfect low-impact, low-stress activity that can keep you moving for hours, even fishing from the bank or from a boat.

Benefits for Your Heart

  • Fishing for even bluegill can keep your body in motion.
  • You can get your heart rate up just walking to your favorite fishing spot and if you change spots several times, you are still up and moving.
  • When you are fishing for big bass or deep-sea fishing you will get a strenuous workout when you reel them in.

Benefits for Your Brain

  • In a study done in Japan, it has been found that if you spend a few hours in a wooded area you can lower your blood pressure, cortisol rates, and blood pressure.
  • When you “unplug” from the daily stresses of life even for just a few hours it will let your brain recharge and give you better focus.

Benefits for Your Body

  • Fishing is good for your dexterity with baiting, reeling, casting, and more. You can keep your shoulders, fingers, and arms flexible. Fishing will also help activate muscles that you do not use all that often.
  • Spending time in the sun will raise your levels of Vitamin D.
  • Being in the fresh air will raise your oxygen level and if there is low pollution, it is especially good for your lungs.
  • It can also help you to lose weight with the walking that you do along with the bending and other physical activity that is required to fish.

Benefits for Kids

  • Kids of today spend on average seven hours in front of the television, gaming systems, or computers. If you get them out in the open-air fishing, it can help to improve their distance vision and may even lower their chances of nearsightedness. 
  • Vitamin D from the sunlight can help to protect them from bone problems, diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues.
  • If your child suffers from ADHD symptoms, it has shown that exposure to a natural setting can help to reduce the symptoms.
  • It can help their mental attitude to spend the day doing something with the family outside instead of inside in front of the television, computer, or game system.

In addition to all those benefits, fishing does involve physical activity, which is one of the things that make it a sport. When you go fishing you may be hiking up a steep riverbank or slope or down them to get to that special spot. This will help to build up muscular strength, particularly your legs. Your hand-eye coordination is also targeted with the casting and reeling because you need to be accurate and precise to find the place where you want to catch the fish.

A sport can also be described as something that is low-impact, calming, and repetitive so it can help those that are trying to regain strength. Fly fishing is one such activity. When you look up the word “fishing” in the dictionary it states that fishing is the sport of catching fish.

Fishing is a Sport

For the sake of discussing whether it is a sport or not, remember that a sport can also include mental activity and at times fishing does require mental activities. You have to remember to get all the things that you need for your fishing trip, figure out where you want to fish, and then drive to get there. All of this requires you to use your brain. So fishing is not just a physical sport but also a mental one.

To reiterate, the three elements of defining fishing as a sport include:

  • It is physically demanding at times, especially if you are part of a team of anglers in a tournament. In order to win, you have to be willing to get up very early in the morning, which can be as early as 4 a.m. You have to be willing to fish in whatever type of weather there is, raining, cloudy, or sunny. You have to be able and willing to fight with large game fish, some weighing 100 pounds or more until you manage to haul them in the boat, which can take several minutes.
  • When you are fishing in a tournament, you are competing against many other teams or individuals, depending on the type of tournament for prize packages that can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars so you have to be competitive enough to try to win anything. 
  • Yes, it does take skill and talent, especially in competitions. You have to know the best places to fish for the big one to win, the right type of bait, the right rods and tackle, and the right boat. Although some would say this is not a talent but you need to have the patience to wait for the big one to bite. It will usually not happen as soon as you throw your line in the water. 


Depending on how you look at fishing, it is a sport if it involves physical exertion, requires skill, and is competitive. There is no right or wrong answer to the question, is fishing actually a sport because at times it is and other times it is a hobby. No matter how you want to call it, fishing can be a sport or just a fun activity for families to enjoy.

If you want to make it a sport, then add some competition in there such as who catches the first fish, or who catches the smallest or largest one and has a reward for who wins the competition. Do not just go to the river bank or pond, throw your line in the water, and wait to catch a fish. Make it a sport by hiking to the fishing spot, or having to climb down and back up a riverbank. Anything as long as it involves physical activity. The skill could be finding how to tie on a new lure, finding a lure or bait that will work to catch that elusive fish. You also have to know what season is the best when catching the particular fish that you want to catch.

As with any sport, having the right equipment can be expensive, especially if you are buying a boat. And if you travel to competitions, that can also be expensive. As with any sports, football, basketball, etc, the equipment you need for them can be expensive.

When fishing, it can be a sport or a hobby. It depends on what you want it to be but when looking at the definition of what a sport is, fishing checks all the boxes; physical exertion, competition, and skill. All that matters is that it is fun to do alone or with family, you are getting exercise, and are outdoors.

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