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Fishing is a popular outdoor activity that millions of people enjoy around the world.

But is fishing just a hobby, or can it be considered a sport?

There are good arguments on both sides of the debate. For many anglers, fishing is more than just a pastime – it’s a serious pursuit that requires skill, knowledge, and practice.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons people consider fishing a hobby, as well as the arguments for classifying it as a sport.

What Makes Fishing a Hobby?

For many people, fishing is a casual leisure activity they do for relaxation and fun. Here are some of the main reasons fishing is considered a hobby:

It’s Done for Enjoyment

The primary motivation for hobbyist anglers is enjoyment. They fish because they find it relaxing, exciting, and a great way to connect with nature. Catching fish is just a bonus. Fishing as a hobby is about the whole experience.

It’s an Escape

A day out on the water fishing provides an escape from the stresses of everyday life. Focusing on catching fish takes your mind off work, bills, and other problems. It gives your brain a break.

It’s Done Irregularly

Most hobbyists go fishing when they have free time, not on a set schedule. It’s an activity done sporadically when the mood strikes. This distinguishes it from a competitive sport pursued regularly.

Specialized Equipment Isn’t Required

Though hobbyists may invest in quality gear, specialized equipment isn’t a requirement. An amateur can head to a lake with a basic rod and reel from a department store. Fishing as a sport, however, requires high-end technical equipment and boats.

There Are No International Competitive Structures

Though there are local amateur fishing tournaments and contests, fishing lacks standardized international competitive structures like other sports. There’s no World Cup of hobbyist fishing.

So in many ways, fishing as a casual recreational getaway aligns with the definition of a hobby. But there’s another side to the argument.

Reasons Fishing Is Considered a Sport

While millions fish casually, fishing can also be pursued in a highly competitive, structured manner that qualifies it as a sport. Here’s why:

It Requires Specialized Skills and Knowledge

Expert anglers have mastered specialized skills and techniques. Knowing where, when, and how to catch different species; the most effective rigs, baits, and lures to use; casting and playing a fish; and reading the water are all learned skills. Fishing well demands in-depth knowledge.

Physical Ability Is Needed

Skilled casting takes coordination. Playing a fish requires strength, stamina, and dexterity. Boat handling skills are also needed for safety. Fishing uses both mental skills and physical abilities.

Advanced Equipment Is Used

In competitive fishing, high-tech rods, reels, electronics, and boats tailored for the sport are standard. Significant investments in specialized equipment are made.

There Are Rules and Scoring

Competitive fishing follows standardized rules on legal catches and scoring systems. Tournaments judge anglers on the total weight or length of fish caught within a set time. There are penalties for violations.

It’s Competitive

Tournament fishing pits individuals or teams against each other in contests of skill. Major events offer large cash purses and prizes to winners, like other professional sports. The goal is to out-fish opponents.

It Has International Structures Like Other Sports

From local clubs to university teams to national tournaments to the Bassmaster Classic, fishing has tiered, structured competitive circuits. It also has international tournaments regulated by organizations like the International Game Fish Association.

So while recreational fishing is more of a hobby, competitive tournament fishing has many attributes of an organized sport. In the end, it depends on how someone approaches fishing as to whether it’s a hobby or a sport.

Benefits of Fishing as a Hobby

Regardless of whether you consider fishing a hobby, sport, or both, picking up fishing offers many great benefits:

Stress Relief and Mental Health

Research shows the relaxing, repetitive motion of casting along with the natural environment lowers stress and anxiety. The mental focus needed also provides a distraction from every day worries. Fishing enhances mood and mental health.

Enjoy Nature and Fresh Air

Fishing gets you outdoors, often to beautiful, peaceful natural settings away from crowds. Breathing fresh air and connecting with nature provides mental rejuvenation. It’s a sensory, meditative experience.

Social Connection

Though you can fish alone, sharing a day on the water with friends or family builds memories and bonds. Fishing creates meaningful social connections in an unplugged setting.

Physical Exercise

Fishing gets you off the couch. Casting, working a reel, landing fish, and boating provides a light to moderate physical workout. The outdoor setting makes exercise more appealing.

Challenge and Mastery

Learning fishing skills, spots, and strategies presents an engaging mental and physical challenge. Besting a tricky fish offers a sense of mastery and achievement. Fishing satisfies human drives.

Excitement and Rewards

The thrill of getting a strike or landing a tough fish activates the reward centers of the brain. Reeling in your catch provides an exhilarating rush along with a tasty meal. Fishing is unpredictable fun.

So fishing offers relaxation, strengthened social bonds, mental engagement, a connection to nature, excitement, exercise, mastery, and delicious rewards. It’s easy to see why it’s such a satisfying lifelong hobby.

Getting Started with Fishing

If you don’t have experience fishing but want to get started, it’s easier than you may think. Here are some tips for beginners:

Start Small, Local, and Cheap

Don’t invest in expensive gear and trips right away. Start small and local at ponds and lakes close to home with budget equipment. Focus on shore fishing. Gain skills before expanding.

Do Some Research

Read up online or get books from the library about basic rigs, techniques, regulations, and local fishing spots. Having some knowledge first makes learning by doing easier.

Take a Class or Charter Trip

Classes and chartered fishing trips with experienced guides are a great way to build foundational skills quickly. You’ll learn in the field.

Find a Mentor

Having an experienced angler mentor accelerates learning. Friends, family, local fishing clubs, and online forums are places to find a mentor.

Start with Easy Fish Species

Target easier species like bluegill, crappie, catfish, trout, or bass to get some early success under your belt and build confidence.

Be Patient and Persistent

Fishing takes patience and persistence. Stick with it on tough days. Success won’t come overnight, but skills and rewards build over time.

By taking a patient, step-by-step approach, anyone can progress from a complete novice to enjoying rewarding days on the water.

Fishing Equipment Basics

While advanced anglers use specialized high-tech gear, you can start fishing with basic affordable equipment purchased at big box stores or department stores. Some standard gear to start with includes:

Rod and Reel Combos

All-in-one rod and reel combo kits are economical starting points. A medium power, 5-6 foot spin casting rod and reel provides versatility for beginners.


A monofilament fishing line in a 6-10 lb. test is a good starting point. It’s affordable and versatile for different species. A braided line is also an option.

Hooks and Weights

Variety packs of basic hooks and split shot weights let you rig natural baits. Easy tie knots like the improved clinch knot are good to learn.


A starter assortment of basic spoons, spinners, crankbaits, soft plastics, and jigs covers most beginner fishing. Add specialty lures later.

Basic Tackle

A tackle box, pliers, line clippers, hook sharpeners, bobbers, swivels, and leaders handle most tasks starting. Add tools as you advance.

You don’t need fancy gear to get started. Affordable basic gear allows you to get your feet wet fishing and have success. You can always upgrade later.

Great Beginner Fishing Locations

Want to start fishing but don’t know where to go? You don’t need to travel to remote wilderness lakes or charter an offshore boat to get started. Here are some great fishing spots for beginners:

Local Ponds

Small municipal ponds in town parks or public lands offer convenient, close-to-home fishing. They often have high populations of panfish like bluegill and crappie. Shore fishing access is easy.

Community Lakes

Larger public lakes allow shore fishing access and often have rental boats available. They offer opportunities for a variety of species like bass, walleye, catfish, trout, and more.

Rivers and Streams

Moving water close to public parks gives beginners shots at trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, and other species. Wading or fishing from shore works.

Charter Boats

Hiring an experienced charter fishing captain to take you out on lakes or inshore saltwater locations is a structured way to learn skills and get on fish.

Stocked Reservoirs

County and state reservoirs frequently stocked with trout and other sportfish are designed to give anglers a chance to catch fish. Great for beginners.

Don’t overlook the many easily accessible and affordable places to fish in your local area. Small waters and charter trips offer ideal places to build skills.

Top Tips for Fishing Success

To set yourself up for success as a beginner angler, keep these top fishing tips in mind:

  • Fish early or late when fish are more active.
  • Vary retrievals until you discern a pattern fish prefer.
  • Use light lines and natural baits for wary fish.
  • Learn to read lakes and find structure, drop-offs, and cover that hold fish.
  • Use polarized sunglasses to spot fish in the water.
  • Keep moving and covering the water to find fish.
  • Use the wind to your advantage to drift baits.
  • Tie on fresh lines and sharpen hooks regularly.
  • Set the hook quickly on any nibble.
  • Bring nets, pliers, gloves, and gear to properly land fish.
  • Look up regulations so you keep only legal-sized fish.
  • Start with easy panfish before moving up to trickier sportfish.
  • Practice knot-tying at home between trips.

These fundamental tips will boost your catch rates as a beginner, allowing you to gain confidence and skills.

Common Fishing Mistakes to Avoid

All anglers were beginners once. It’s inevitable when starting that some mistakes will be made. Being aware of the most common errors will help you avoid early pitfalls:

  • Using a line that’s too heavy and visible. Go lighter than you think.
  • Keeping dead or dull bait. Change bait frequently.
  • Fishing when conditions are extremely unfavorable. Pick better timing.
  • Not paying attention to snags and getting gear stuck. Go slowly and pay attention.
  • Using the wrong size hook and losing fish. Match hooks to baits.
  • Not having patience and moving too much. Give spots time before moving.
  • Setting the hook too soon or too late. Allow fish to take bait fully.
  • Not wearing a lifejacket on boats. Safety first.
  • Casting overhead and getting hooked by lures. Keep clear space overhead.
  • Forgetting tools and gear that allow you to handle fish. Be prepared.
  • Not obtaining proper licenses and learning regulations. Do research.

We all make some mistakes when getting started. However, being aware of common errors helps correct them early.

Is Fishing a Hobby or Sport?

While there are good arguments on both sides, in the end, fishing can be considered both a casual hobby and a competitive sport, depending on how someone chooses to pursue it.

As a hobby, fishing offers relaxation, excitement, health benefits, social connection, and contact with nature. It brings immense enjoyment and satisfaction to millions of ordinary anglers. But for professionals pursuing tournaments and trophies, it also meets many definitions of an organized sport requiring extensive skill and dedication.

Fishing richness comes from having elements of both hobby and sport. It can provide simple joy and life enrichment, along with the thrill of competition and mastery. Whether you’re a weekend hobbyist catching sunfish at the local pond or a seasoned bass pro, fishing has something special and meaningful to offer anyone. The question of whether it’s ultimately a hobby or sport gives fishing depth. It’s an activity for all seasons of life.

Happy fishing!

FAQs about Is Fishing a Hobby?

What do you call fishing for fun?

Fishing for fun is commonly referred to as recreational fishing or sport fishing.

Why do people love fishing so much?

People love fishing for various reasons, including the thrill of the catch, the opportunity to relax and connect with nature, the challenge of outsmarting fish, and the sense of accomplishment it brings.

Is fly fishing a sport or a hobby?

Fly fishing can be considered both a sport and a hobby. It requires physical activity and skill, making it a sport, but many people also engage in fly fishing as a leisure activity or hobby.

What do you call someone who loves fishing?

Someone who loves fishing is often called an angler or a fisherman. These terms are used to describe individuals who enjoy and actively participate in the activity of fishing.

Is fishing a cheap hobby?

Fishing can be a relatively affordable hobby, depending on various factors such as the fishing location, equipment choices, and the frequency of fishing trips. While there can be initial costs for fishing gear, ongoing expenses can be managed within a range of budgets.

Why is fishing a hobby popular among so many people?

Fishing as one of the most popular hobbies worldwide has lots to offer. First, fishing is a great hobby for those seeking to connect with nature, as it usually takes place in tranquil outdoor settings. Furthermore, the satisfaction of managing to catch fish is gratifying. Fishing also becomes a pastime for individuals or groups, allowing for social bonding. Lastly, as a hobby, fishing can also be viewed as a practical skill, providing an ability to secure sustenance if needed.

Tom Velasco

Tom Velasco

I'm just a regular guy who loves hobbies. I'm also the creator of Hobbyist To Riches, where I've spent the last 15 years trying out all kinds of hobbies that make life happier and financially rewarding. My adventures have taken me around the world to immerse in different cultures and their diverse pastimes. I love sharing this journey of discovering new passions!

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