I’ve spent countless days sitting outside on the banks of rivers or a beach on the edge of a lake, just watching the water move. Sometimes there have been fish on the end of my line, and other times I’ve gone home empty-handed. No matter what, I go home feeling satisfied, calm, and grateful for the day spent out fishing.
Many people ask me, “why do people go fishing?” And it makes sense! Especially when there are days that you don’t catch anything after hours of casting or simply waiting.
The secret is that people go fishing for many reasons, and most aren’t about catching fish. People fish because they want to reduce stress, build friendships, reap many health benefits, pay respect to the environment, or bring home dinner.
Fishing is often a very personal experience, and everyone’s reasons differ. This is simply a list of eight reasons why people go fishing and like it, but there are plenty more out there.
1. Reducing Stress and Producing Calm
Sometimes the reason people fish is just for the excuse to spend time outside, and this time has repeatedly been proven to be incredibly therapeutic. Researchers have found that spending more time outside is directly linked to longer and happier lives, primarily due to reduced stress levels.
Let’s face it. Our everyday lives are full of the hustle and bustle that adds up and crowds out the calming and peaceful thoughts that our brains try to bring to us. Stepping outside of this every so often is a great chance to recenter and find the calm inside yourself.
Fishing requires a mindful presence and a meditative level of focus. From baiting the hook to becoming in tune with the fish, the mind takes on a different form when fully immersing itself in the stream.
Ask most anglers, and they’ll tell you that fishing is their meditation. There’s no need for a quiet room and a pillow when their line is cast out into a calm glassy pond, with all their worries left behind. So, what is the point of fishing? Sometimes, it’s nothing other than finding some quiet.
2. Building Friendships
From the time that you’re young, fishing can be an incredibly social activity. Even when you step into a small fishing shop, you can feel a sense of comradery rather than competition.
Fellow anglers love helping each other tackle personal goals, and many old-timers are willing and ready to spout out a laundry list of time-tested wisdom regarding what equipment to use and even how to cast your line.
Even when fishing involves standing on the side of a river and quietly casting, there’s something special about having a companion a few paces away doing the same. These shared moments create stronger bonds than you can get from time spent next to each other at the bar or sitting in front of the TV screen.
Ask anyone why people go fishing, and you’ll hear the same answer: for relationships. The friends you form while fishing see you go through struggles but also witness huge successes. (Hopefully!)
These shared experiences tie you together for life, and it’s not uncommon to have lifelong fishing buddies that go out on every trip you offer up. Plus, finding others to fish with will make learning how to fish a much faster process!
3. Health Benefits
Along with all the mental health benefits, a surprising number of physical benefits come with pursuing fishing as an active hobby.
For starters, simply getting out in the sun will increase your Vitamin D levels, which affects your overall mood. It can help reduce cancer cell growth, control infections, and reduce inflammation. Even if someone can’t pinpoint the exact draw for why people fish, Vitamin D is often the hidden reason. It just makes you feel better!
Additionally, getting outside demands much more from your body than sitting around the house. You must hike to your fishing spot, haul all your gear, and actively cast while standing in potentially tough waters. When you’re doing something you love, like fishing, the time spent outside doesn’t even seem like a workout, even if it is.
4. Always Learning
One thing that I’ve always loved about fishing is that it’s the perfect environment to consistently learn new skills. I feel like every time I’m out either by myself or with a friend, I find something that I can do differently or better to bring home more fish or to make my life a bit easier.
When you establish a solid fishing community, you access a deep well of knowledge that’s been passed on through generations of anglers. This allows you to challenge yourself to try new skills while thinking creatively to solve your problems.
Even back at home, I’ve taught myself to tie my flies just to add to the experience. While it can be tricky, it makes me feel even more accomplished when I can catch a fish with something that I taught myself to make.
5. Feelings of Success
The feeling that accomplishment brings is almost unparalleled in life. From the moment a fish bites the line, there’s a sense of success coursing through my body.
The build-up and anticipation that builds while I wait for a simple nibble on the end of my line just adds to the feelings of success once I snag a fish. It’s tough to find that same rush doing other hobbies.
Not only has my success contributed to my wanting to get out more and more, but I also want to see others find that success. After teaching some friends to fish, I feel an even greater sense of accomplishment when they catch a fish.
6. Respecting the Environment
Many people don’t see fishing as respecting the environment, but when done right, it’s a process filled with respect. Fishing is a way to help manage the environment.
First, fishing helps control populations while supporting local fisheries and hatcheries that work hard to maintain populations in certain areas. Removing ourselves from the natural food chain could be dangerous for the natural systems at play.
I have also been fortunate enough to witness many rituals surrounding fish, especially salmon, by native cultures in Alaska. The relationship that many have with fish is full of respect and love. It’s a give-and-take situation where everyone benefits. Yes, even the fish.
7. Bringing Home Dinner
One of the more obvious answers to why people go fishing is that it can provide a delicious meal for free. There’s something special about eating a fish you’ve caught. It just seems to always taste better than anything you bring home from the store.
Along with all the other health benefits, eating the fish you catch provides a wealth of vitamins and nutrients that are hard to get in other foods. Many fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B, which have a long list of benefits for your body.
8. The Feeling
Why do people go fishing? Most of the time, it’s for the feeling that naturally comes when standing out there casting a line.
That feeling is hard to describe. It’s a mixture of the joy from being outside, the sense of success in catching a fish, and the calming nature of the outdoors.
While it’s hard to describe, it’s something that any angler can identify when they feel it. It becomes the primary reason why we go fishing, whether we know it or not.
From the moment you get home from the last fishing trip until you cast your line out on the next one, there’s a spot waiting to be filled with the exact feeling that can only be found while out on the water.