Is Fishing Really A Sport Or Just A Hobby? Here’s Your Proof!

By: Joseph Simonds on August 19, 2016
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is fishing a sport

Is Fishing Really A Sport?

The question – “Is fishing really a sport or hobby?” – has stirred up a lot of debate and even raised some eyebrows of those people who believe that fishing is just a leisure activity that can never be a sport…

In fact, I had someone challenge me (probably a PETA member) on this recently by saying fishing is not a sport because anyone can do it…

Well isn’t that the point of sports… something competitive that required some skill but that can still be enjoyed by everyone regardless of size, strength, or even disability?

And as you can imagine, while researching this topic, I found some forums that said fishing was not a sport, while others saying it absolutely was.

The Bleacher Report had this to say about fishing being a real sport or not:

  • Does it require physical exertion or ability? Sometimes
  • Does it require physical skill? Sometimes
  • Is it a competition? Sometimes

Fishing is all about the context in terms of whether it’s a sport or not.  When I lived in Minnesota in the middle of winter, people would drive out their trucks onto the ice, pull out their tent and prop it up.

Next, they drill a hole in the ice and drop a line. Then they rev up the generator, plug in the TV and drink beer and ice fish. That is not a sport.

Grabbing a cooler, throwing it on your row boat and paddling out to the middle of the lake where you get drunk with a line in the water is not a sport.

Neither of those things require any skill or exertion and have no competition, ergo they are not sports.

Hauling in a 50-pound tuna in a fishing tournament is another matter. Fishing is only a sport when it’s a sport. Otherwise, it’s just an outdoor hobby.

The Bleacher Report Verdict: Fishing is a sport sometimes.

Well, I tend to disagree… I think that fishing is undeniably a sport all of the time, not sometimes…

And not just because I love fishing, but simply because fishing possesses the skill set and even the “requirements” needed for any sport.

With that in mind, I want to outline FIVE reasons why we are really confident that fishing is indeed a SPORT.

5 Reasons Fishing Is A Real Sport

is fishing a sport

Here are five (of many) reasons that fishing is a real sport.

If you know of other reasons why fishing is definitely (or definitely not) a sport, then please leave them in the comments after you read these five.

Just keep it classy.


1. Anglers And Athletes Have Alot In Common

is fishing a sport

If you have ever fought a large fish for more than 15 minutes, then you know how much energy, strength, and stamina it takes to land a lunker fish.

It’s not like all fishing is pulling up bluegill with a cane pole for crying out loud!

I mean, haven’t any of you naysayers read “Old Man And The Sea?”

Have you never watched the show Wicked Tuna?

Anglers that go after big game fish are completely wiped out after a long fight with a monster fish. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say these anglers are more tired and sore than a table tennis player after a long table tennis match with Ding Ning from China…

Do you not think this guy got a workout landing this beast on a rod and reel?

is fishing a real sport

Moreover, just like any athlete out there, we anglers also have those pillars in life that greatly affect our performance while fishing (i.e. sleep, diet, studying, and training).

Loss or lack of sleep (as well as sleep deprivation) actually affects our performance while on the water. When we don’t get enough sleep the night before we fish, we sometimes miss things due to slower reflexes, naps on the boat, etc.

Having a balanced diet is also a must. And this begins with our choice of healthy food and snacks like bacon, eggs, and coffee that can give us the right vitamins and minerals to keep us going. Basically, anything but bananas (find out why bananas are really bad luck on boats here)

What’s interesting is some anglers choose to carry granola bars and other healthy energy-giving snacks while others rely on sunflower seeds, peanuts, and beef jerky.

Either way, fishing requires lots of training and a focused mind in order to succeed. It’s science, and it’s tough to argue with science…

2. Fishing Actually Improves Physical Health!

is fishing a reel sport

This hobby-turned-sport that we all know as fishing not only keeps us physically fit by helping us burn unwanted calories, but it also allows us to take advantage of its holistic approach in helping us keep a healthy mind and body.

All kinds of sports enable everyone to have some cardiovascular and high-intensity workouts.

However, many people still think that fishing is just about sitting on a cooler with a bait in the water waiting on a bite while relaxing with your favorite fishing buddies. Well, it’s actually more than that. Check this out below.

Well, it’s actually more than that. Check this out below.

is fishing really a sport

Just like any sport, all types of fishing involves physical activity.

Traversing through some coarse terrain and slippery rocks while wading against the current challenges our balance. Likewise, hiking up steep slopes or riverbanks looking for a new place to wet a line builds muscular strength particularly in our legs and feet, not to mention that casting and reeling repeatedly test our precision and accuracy through hand-eye coordination. It also strengthens muscles in the hands, wrists, forearms, biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Through comprehensive research, science has already supported these findings about the physical benefits of fishing over the years. In fact, leisure fishing has been widely utilized as a rehabilitation therapy by psychologists, counselors, and physical therapists.

So take that haters!

And since this “sport” is considered as a calming, repetitive, low-impact activity that helps the patients suffering from trauma to regain strength and reinforce their normal functions, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration has taken upon the use of fly fishing and fly tying as a recreational therapy for injured military veterans.

Watch this video that reveals a study on the health benefits of recreational fishing:

How can anyone say fishing isn’t a sport after watching that?

But there’s more…

3. Fishing Promotes Mental, Emotional, & Social Well-Being (Just Like All Sports)

is fishing a reel sport

It’s a fact: Angling is therapeutic in nature.

Compared to other tedious sports that cause extreme stress, broken bones, and even death, fishing provides you the opportunity to relieve stress and escape from the usual hustle and bustle of the city life without stressing or pressuring you more.

Fishing rewards us with moments of solitude and serenity – ideal for our much-awaited, well-deserved break. Can you say that about running sprints for football in the hot sun until you vomit?

I don’t think so.

Similarly, fishing introduces protective factors that promote good mental health, resilience and coping skills, as well as a network of social support that all work their way to maintain positive mental health.

Don’t believe me?

Then check out some of its distinct features and overall health contributions that are outlined in the table below.

Note: This study titled, “Fishing for Answers: Final Report of the Social and Community Benefits of Angling Project,” and conducted by Dr. Adam Brown, in 2012 has been published HERE.

is fishing really a sport

Incorporating fishing in our usual routines contributes in the promotion of our superior social relationships between and among our loved ones and friends as well as our overpowering sense of connection, belongingness, and contribution to the society.

4. Fishing Teaches Leadership, Perseverance, and Discipline.

is fishing a real sport

Would you rather your son or daughter learn how to fish and conserve the outdoors or learn how to play Xbox and stay inside?

In most sports, we have to learn some skill that develops our strength, hand-eye coordination, flexibility, stamina, focus and much more. And as we practice the skill to perfection, such activity also gives anglers like us a room to acquire leadership and self-discipline, while improving self-confidence and enriching perseverance and patience.

And when we join into some fishing tournaments and competitions, we experience some of the biggest thrills, challenges, and know-hows of playing the sport – requiring us to step out of our comfort zone and learn how to strategize – adopting team dynamics and sportsmanship.

5. Fishing Gives Anglers A Sense Of Accomplishment & Joy (Like All Sports)

Anglers fish for different reasons (please see the infographics below for your reference).

And regardless of whether you fish to combat stress, spend quality time with our loved ones and friends, find our ultimate sanctuary, or even join in a competition, we all seek a certain sense of happiness, contentment, and feeling of accomplishment.

is fishing a real sport

In fishing, we know we all belong and have a specific purpose.

As they often say, “fishing by all forms takes them back to the very essence of humanity – giving them a sense of place in the world.”

Well, I would encourage anyone to try fishing and experience the bliss and the fun that we all enjoy as anglers and fishing athletes. As you have seen above, it is no wonder so many anglers say that fishing is truly a one of a kind SPORT.

Not only is it entertaining, competitive, and fun, but it has lots of benefits, too. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do — you can always catch a fish too!

It really should be no mystery that fishing is a sport, perhaps one of the oldest sports in the world.

What do you think?

Is fishing a real sport? Are fishermen athletes?

Feel free to hit the comment section and let us know your thoughts. Pa-Pow!

Keep Calm and Fish Strong!

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would enjoy seeing this, please TAG them or SHARE this with them.

P.P.S. – Want a new saltwater fishing tip every week? Then click here now to join the Salt Strong movement!


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Fishing is a sport. I understand where people are coming from but really it is a sport. The definition of a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” 1. People are competing against each other. High schools have fishing teams that go against each. I am on the high school fishing team so I would know. There is a first place there is skill used, everyone might can fish but that does not mean everyone can fish good. There is a lot of skill and work that has to be done with fishing. The definition of fishing is “the activity of catching fish, either for food or as a sport.” see fishing is a sport and that how it is.


i love how ever made this site because i have be trying to prove my point and now i finely can i’m 10 and in school so i can’t right more thank you.


Fishing is not a sport but it can be competitive, hence the tournaments. I don’t care how much you want to delude yourself because you have a personal attachment toward fishing, it is just not a sport. What separates it from most and all sports is the fact that there is no real direct competition between humans and the fish with clear rules and regulations on how the game is suppose to be played for both sides. Then you have the direct correlation with fish and food, you want the ultimate litmus test, you wouldn’t be calling fishing a sport if you were from a very poor village or town where fishing is apart of staying alive. Can there be competitions sure but just because you compete indirectly with other humans it doesn’t make it a sport. Just because an activity can be physically draining or you have to use specific techniques doesn’t automatically classify it as a sport just because you put a prize and tournament structure to catching fish, it can be competitive but it is still an outdoor activity that is mostly about fishing for food or hobby. The basic definition of a sport is being used extremely literal to the point that it the spirit of the word sport is being miss applied.


fishing is a sport so


a sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment which fishing is


This is extremely offensive to me. Fishing takes a lot of work and skill. I do believe that some types of fishing is more competitive than others. But I believe bass fishing is a sport, because involves a lot of mental skill.


Yes it does my friend I agree I am a fellow bass fishing competitor

Artemis Rose
Artemis Rose

Fishing indeed is more than just a hobby since we invest time, effort and money, and we dedicate our full self to this kind of activity. I also believe that not everyone can do it and some people are really inclined in doing such outdoor activities.


Unlike most (sports) we are not paid big lucrative amounts to do what we do.we supply our fuel our tackle and our boats.we fish day in day out pay entry fees and fish our bodies to exhaustive measures to be king for the day of the water.We dont hook up we dont get paid.If you dont believe its a sport pay your entry fees get in my boat and co-angle a day with me.Come with your gear your best game and be in shape because at the end of the day after 10,000 or more cast landing fish and trying to locate a winning stringer.tell me your not wore to a frazzle and what i do isnt a sport.And yes I sell XterminatorArsenal tournament baits and that is another sport.


stop just stop fishing isn’t a sport go spend that money for nothing good luck being king of the water

Ned Bradford

Definitely a sport with as many benefits as the participants wish to pursue. Physical, mental and nutritional. Think kayak fishing for Redfish and the dinner table if you are successful. Lots of physical activity, cognitive skills and nutritional rewards if you are successful. And success is not a guarantee. Best of all it’s a sport you can pursue from an early age on throughout your life.

Timothy Larson

I agree with EVERYTHING you say. The point is, you make the perfect argument for fishing being BOTH a sport and a hobby. (The word “hobby” is awful though.) I have fished tournaments where you just go all day long at 100%, fish your back side off and compete. At other times, I go bend a rod somewhere and there is nothing I love more than playing with the fish and breathing the air. We can wax eloquent here but I think the great thing about fishing IS the fact that it can be both.
Catch fish people!

Stuart Kidder

Fishing is both a sport and a recreation. For me, more of the latter. I havn’t fished a tournament in years, although I did catch a 3rd place Wahoo many many years ago.
I just enjoy being out on the water, doesn’t matter what type of fishing I do. That said, now that I live in Tampa, I find shallow water “hunting” for snook, reds & trout quite the sport. The skill involved in locating and not spooking the fish, then placing the perfect cast is not something learned overnight.
For those who are the “natural” athletes, I recommend you try fly fishing. Then tell me how easy it is.


i go fly fishing ans a athletes want have a clue how to fly fish it took me many years to learn how to do fly fishing and now i catch salmon and sea trout took me many years and lots of time and money and i would class it as a sport