Is Fishing A Sport?


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You may not think of fishing as a sport. You probably consider it more of a pastime or hobby. “Real sports”, you may say, “involves a ball.” Football, basketball, baseball etc. But we’re here to contest that not only should fishing be considered a sport; but it’s one of the best sports around. Let’s take a look.

“Sport” Defined

Oxford Dictionary defines “sport” as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment.” And to that we have two words: Fishing Tournament. Individual anglers or teams of anglers compete against one another for the biggest catch on lakes and oceans around the world. We would dare to bet that there’s a fishing tournament every weekend of the year taking place somewhere in the world.

Or, how about these three words: Deep Sea Fishing. If you aren’t physically exhausted after cranking up a big amberjack, we'd be curious as to what sort of winch you were using. Just going by the mere definition, fishing is most definitely a sport. But we know it’s more than just words. Professional athletes train and practice for years and years in their craft, conditioning their bodies and minds in pursuit of being the best. But a sport is not only defined by the professionals.

For the Love of the Sport

Athletes of traditional sports typically start at a young age. Their love of the sport developed during youth leagues and after school extracurriculars. But did you know that roughly .5% of high school baseball players will go pro, and fewer than 1 in 1,000 basketball players? What do you think happens to those thousands of athletes who don't make it to the league? Sure some may walk away, having left it all out on the court or field. But many others turn to rec leagues and continue to enjoy the competition. Or they return to coach those youth and student leagues, raising a whole new generation of athletes.

It’s a bit different for fishermen and women. Though there has been an increase in the number of youth leagues around the country dedicated to offering organized fishing events, they are not as widespread or accessible as they are for more “conventional” sports. But you can bet there are parents or grandparents taking their kids and grandkids fishing, introducing rods and reels to boys and girls of all ages. And every weekend there’s a family fishing tournament taking place somewhere in the country to see who caught the biggest fish! There’s a love for fishing that runs just as deep as traditional sports, and it passes from generation to generation.

Professional Vs. Recreational Fishing

Now, while there are professional anglers, they are definitely not in the same stratosphere of other professional athletes in terms of salary or lifestyle. This article by Mossy Oak profiles Jordan Lee of Guntersville, Alabama and reveals much about the life of a professional bass fisherman.

There are also commercial fishermen and women who are fishing for a living, catching thousands of pounds of fish that are delivered to grocery stores and markets around the world.

One other professional angler to consider is the charter captain or fishing guide. They share their fishing knowledge and expertise with anglers of all skill levels and often walk away from lucrative careers to do what they love everyday: go fishing! Whether you’re a novice, or have been fishing every day of your life, you can hire a professional to guide your next fishing trip.

While there are many professional fishermen and women, recreational anglers actually far outnumber the pros. In 2019 there were 41.4 million fishing licenses, tags, permits and stamps sold in the United States. Now that’s a lot of fishing!

The Sport of Fishing

Compared to other sports, it’s typically a lot easier to go fishing than it is to join any pick-up game with a ball. That’s one of the benefits that fishing has over those other sports. You don’t need a group to compete. Just grab a rod and reel and head towards the water to hone your skills.

Oftentimes anglers will attempt to catch their “PB” (Personal Best) every time they cast the line. Or if you do have a group, participate a small tournament among yourselves to create an element of friendly competition. The sport of fishing actually has a ton of benefits and life lessons learned by way of metaphors. Confidence, perseverance, and self-esteem are just a few of character builders earned when fighting fish as a hobby. And you get really good at telling fish stories (wink, wink).

Any sport can also be a hobby: golf, soccer, racing. Fishing is just one more in a long line of recreational hobbies that is also considered a sport. Sure there are professionals, but the majority of the community are your average Joes and Janes enjoying the day with bent rods. Fishing offers physical exertion, skills that can be built but never truly mastered, and there’s plenty of room for competition.

The bottom line is: If you spend hours fishing, sweating and working to perfect your performance; If you think about ways to get better or do better on your next trip; If competition is your thing, then the sport of fishing is your game!

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