Is Fishing Considered a Sport?

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Is Fishing a Sport?

Many respond with baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, and other team sports when people think about sports. After that, you may hear answers such as tennis, wrestling, and golf. But when people bring up the question of fishing being a sport or a hobby, many debates ensue, particularly when people consider fishing just a leisure activity.

There is nothing worse for a dedicated fisherman to hear that fishing is not a sport because “anyone can do it.” While that may be true to a certain extent that anyone can put a rod in the water with bait attached to it trying to catch a fish, there is much more to it at a competitive level. 

Having said that, while doing research, it can be found that particular websites, blogs, and forums will argue that fishing is not a sport, while others unequivocally say that fishing is a sport. Let’s take a closer look.

Defining A Sport

An example of some of what has been seen during my research is answering the questions about what defines a sport. A sport, as defined by some, is a physical exertion or ability, physical skill, and competition. Can you answer yes to each of the following with regard to fishing? The answers were “sometimes,” so fishing is all about the context in terms of whether or not it is a sport.

Going to a local stream with your buddies, taking a boat on a lake, sitting with your line in the water, and simply waiting for a bite on your line does not require any physical exertion or skill. Therefore, in this context, fishing is not a sport. Another similar example is when guys in a cold-weather climate go to a lake in the winter, dig a hole in the ice, and sit with their poles in the water with their tents propped up. The most physical part of the day is digging a hole in the ice.

Fishing at the highest level requires a specific skill set that not everyone can master and matches other requirements needed for other sports. Trying to haul in large fish of 50 pounds or more in a tournament is an entirely different story.

Similarities Between Fishermen & Athletes

Fighting with a large fish in an attempt to reel it in can be very draining on the body. There is tremendous strength, stamina, energy, and mental toughness to fight with 50-pound fish for 15 or more minutes at a time.

Fishermen that go after large game fish are utterly exhausted after such a battle, perhaps even more so than athletes competing in other sports. Like in other sports, a competitive big-game fisherman needs a proper diet, training, rest, and preparation to perform at the top of his game. 

Without proper sleep, a fisherman may not be as mentally alert, causing slower reflexes, falling asleep on the boat, etc. Proper nutrition on the morning of a competition, such as eggs and meat for protein, and juices for vitamins, can give fishermen the energy needed for a long day on the boat. 

In any event, no matter what foods are consumed to give the energy needed, fishing at the highest level requires mental acuity, the proper study, and training to win.

Physical Benefits

All kinds of sports provide high-intensity workouts and cardiovascular benefits, and fishing is no exception. Once seen as a hobby, fishing became a competitive sport to help burn calories. In some cases, being outside on the water has a calming mental effect, paving the way for a healthier mind.

For those fishing outside of a boat, navigating uneven, slippery terrain and hiking up steep slopes or riverbanks required a strong core and good balance. The art of casting a line where you want it to go requires precise hand-eye coordination, in addition to the forearm, bicep, and triceps strength. 

The U.S. Veterans Health Administration has also incorporated the use of fly fishing as therapy for injured military veterans. The repetitive nature of the activity is beneficial both mentally and physically and can help restore normal functions.

Courtesy of BlacktipH YouTube channel

Fishing is Therapeutic

While other sports can cause undue physical and mental stress, broken bones, concussions, and death, in rare cases, fishing generally provides a stress-relieving experience.

Indeed, there is plenty of physical activity when hauling in a big fish, but there are also moments of peace, serenity, and solitude. These moments provide a well-needed rest for both the mind and body.

Fishing also helps promote good mental health, improve coping skills, and bring people together with common interests, helping improve social skills.

Discipline, Determination, and Leadership Qualities

In a vast majority of sports, you learn skills that improve hand-eye coordination, strength, flexibility, mental acuity, and physical endurance. While mastering the skills necessary to compete at the highest level in fishing, you also learn to improve self-confidence, discipline, patience, and leadership.

When competing in tournaments, fishermen experience the same thrills and challenges as in other sports, requiring them to adopt new strategies. In essence, you must be able to step out of your comfort zone to reach the top.

Sense of Accomplishment

People like to fish for many reasons: to spend time with friends, relieve stress, or join competitions. This can create a level of enjoyment and a feeling of accomplishment, mainly when performing well, just like succeeding in other sports.


Fishing is not only entertaining and competitive; it has numerous benefits. It takes people back to the very inner core of human existence, providing a calming sense of place in the world around them.

Fishing truly is a one-of-a-kind sport at the most competitive level. In fact, it is one of the oldest sports in the world. Before you assume that fishing isn’t a sport, please look at competitive fishermen on a boat for big-game fish and tell me otherwise.

These anglers are the best in the world at what they do and require physical stamina, strength, etc. skill, and mental focus. These are the same qualities needed to succeed in any other sport.

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