Is Fishing a Sport? Yes or NO? [or a Hobby?]

Is fishing a sport

When talking about fishing, many people, including anglers, ask: "Is fishing a sport?"  That is a complicated subject and it depends of a lot of factors ...

Most people define sport as a physical activity, but again we have some sports that do not require it, like chess, which is considered a sport. Some say sport has to be a competitive activity, but again, a lot of people engage in sport activities just for fun, and it is still a sport.

Generally speaking, fishing can be seen both as a hobby and a sport. Catching a big carp, tuna, catfish and some other big fish requires both physical and mental capabilities, and it requires a lot of practice and experience. Same goes for underwater fishing, as freediving is hard and sometimes can be dangerous.

And mostly, it is not very interesting to spectators, but again, many sports activities are not. For some, who fish for one afternoon on a vacation and do it more for entertainment than for the catch itself, it can be a nice hobby.

When we look at fishing licence around the world, some of them are called sports fishing and some recreational.

Here we are going to state the basics about sport and recreational fishing and is fishing considered a sport. So, keep on reading ...



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What was the Purpose of Fishing Through History?

Fishing was not always considered to be a sport or leisure activity. It was a way of bringing food to the table. In some parts of the world it still is ...

And here we talk about fishing with a rod or similar tools, not about commercial fishing that includes nets and tons of fish in them.

At some point people started to see fishing as a form of recreation and leisure. In Europe, that happened sometimes in 1400s. And it was reserved for upper class. They had money and time to invest in it.

As time went by, more and more people on every continent started seeing fishing as a hobby. In the 19th century, it became widely available for middle class. Today, it is a huge industry and a part of tourist offers in many destinations.

In 1960s, bass fishing tournaments gained popularity in the USA. Just before that, monofilament lines and other modern materials and components of fishing equipment were invented.

That development, and everything that followed, enabled leisure activity to be seen as something that requires a lot of skill and knowledge, and many anglers wanted to prove they are the best.

Is Fishing a sport - History

What is the Difference Between Sports and Leisure Fishing?

Instead of asking is fishing a sport or a hobby, we should define a difference between sport fishing and leisure fishing.

What is Considered as Leisure Fishing?

Many of us have seen anglers sitting on a coast, having a beer, enjoying the day, and not worrying too much about their catch.

They all have rods and reels, some are more expensive than others, but mostly they have the same purpose. Recreational fishing requires some time, patience and a certain level of knowledge, same as many other leisure activities.

Some recreational anglers are very good at what they do, and some even participate is local competitions, but that still does not make them professionals.

Anyone can engage in this activity and have a wonderful adventure.

Changing locations, learning about fish behaviour and practicing different techniques (like jigging, trolling, ice fishing and other) is a part of it. Sports fishing, on the other hand, is more complicated.

What is Considered as Sports Fishing?

The difference between the two can be seen as the difference between playing a certain sport in a local club or participating in the Olympics.

Sport fishing requires a tremendous amount of knowledge about a certain fish species.

Competitions are organized in a way that you are targeting designated fish species. In order to do that successfully, anglers need to have a lot of experience and practice.

Equipment used it specialized to every single detail. For big game fishing, like tuna or swordfish, special boats are required.

Anglers must know all the details about locations, time of fishing, baits, behaviours, and all of that can cost a lot of money. Unlike recreational fishermen, failing is rarely an option.

Except the skill and knowledge to even make those fish bite, anglers need physical strength and endurance to pull it out of the water. It takes longer and it is much harder than some people think. Regular training is essential.

As any other sports, fishing has advantages for humans. Spending time in fresh air, physical and mental stimulation, dedication and competitive spirit are beneficial for human health, both physical and mental.

If still wondering is fishing a sport or not, everything listed above is a proof that fishing is truly a sport.

Is Fishing a sport - Leisure

Are there any Organized Fishing Competitions or Leagues All Over the World?

Same as other sports, there are different types of fishing, and most competition fishermen specializes on one of those, such as big game fishing, fly fishing, deep sea fishing, ice fishing and more. Competitions can be held at oceans, rivers or lakes.

As in other sport disciplines, winners get trophies, there are tournament sponsors and all other components making fishing tournaments very similar to any other sport tournament.

Is Fishing a Sport in the Olympics?

Before mentioning different tournaments and competitions, we must answer one more frequent question. Is fishing a sport in the Olympics?

For a sport to be enlisted in the Olympics, it has to be applied and approved. It can be a long and complicated process. Fishing was proposed to be a part of next Olympic games, in Tokyo. Some other sports were successfully admitted, but fishing is still not on the list. Hopefully, that will change. One day ...

However, angling was a part of the Olympics. In 1900 in Paris, fishing was unofficial sport. Participants from 6 countries, competed in 6 events. It is stated as unofficial today, but actually at that time, such classification did not exist. Both number and size of the fish were important.

There have been rumours that the proposal for the Olympics will be accepted, but nothing was official and it is not possible, or even responsible, to state those rumours as facts.

Off-Shore Tournaments

Those are particularly interesting to many people, not just anglers. Seeing a monster on the end of a fishing line will make many people interested. And the media coverage is much higher than in fly-fishing or bass fishing competitions.

To see how big those events are, there is an example of off-shore tournament in Maryland. In 2015, more that 300 boats participated and the winner won more than 1 million dollars. Almost 4 million was given to winners all together.

Fishing is way more advanced than a lot of people think when they observe anglers in a small town on vacation.

The biggest tuna caught and recognized by International Game Fish Association, was a bluefin tuna that weighed 1496 pounds. It took only 45 minutes for the fishermen to pull it close enough to the boat. That level of skill cannot be considered as a hobby. It was more than 40 years ago and that record still remains.

Bass Fishing Tournaments

Bass fishing is one of the oldest and most popular fresh water fishing disciplines. It is also becoming a multi-million-dollar business, and it is especially popular in the USA.

Those tournaments are organised for different experience and skill levels, from amateurs to advanced. That is the best part about them, almost anyone who wants to try to compete, can find a tournament suitable for their skillset.

In some high-profile tournaments with the elite anglers, winners can get a substantial amount of money, in addition to the trophy.

There are different rules and regulations for tournaments and even the basic ones require skill and competence.

Is Fishing a sport - Bass Tournament

Other Interesting Facts About Sports Fishing ...

There are some of the less known facts about sports fishing, and some of them can even answer the question is fishing a sport.

Passionate anglers probably know a lot of these information, but beginners could be quite surprised ...

Bassmaster classic

The Bassmaster classic was the first large bass fishing competition in USA. It was also the first fishing competition broadcasted on TV. The idea was born in 1969, and a few year later it was a major event with high prize pool and a lot of competitors. Fish conservation was also important part as they promoted catch and release fishing. The event still exists today.


In the USA, fishing is more popular than well known sports like tennis and golf. And bass is the most popular game fish among all. This rising popularity, both in the USA and other parts of the world, made it possible for fishing to be considered as an Olympic sport.

High-school sport

USA made the biggest step in presenting fishing as a real sport, equal to many others. In 2009, it was recognized as a high-school sport. During the first year, students from more than 200 schools participated in competitions.


Internet made fishing more popular and accessible than any other media before. Today, it is possible to participate in online competitions where participants can upload pictures of their catch. Those competitions are not the same as the “real” ones, but they offer a view into the world of proper competitive fishing.

There are also a lot of fishing games where the competitions are also organized ...

Promoting fish conservation

Responsible anglers always think about conservation and treat the fish respectfully. Catch and release enables the trophy size fish to spread their genes onto next fish generations and that enables anglers to enjoy the same quality of fishing in the future. In some less developed countries, sports fishing is actually increasing the number of fish as locals turn to tourism instead of excessive commercial fishing.

If everyone obeyed certain rules and regulations, even if they are not stated by the authority, responsible sport fishing would not have bad influence on the environment.

Family activity

Fishing can be done with kids, or entire families, which makes it a great activity.

Many lakes have campsites near-by and there is a lot of equipment suitable for everyone. Spending time outdoors and engaging in a fun activity is something that most of the families like to do, so why not try fishing.

Many people think fishing is only for men. However, more and more women are participating, and there are even tournaments for ladies. More than 10 years ago, the first female angler qualified for the previously mentioned Bassmaster classic tournament.

Is Fishing a Sport - Family


Is fishing a sport was a subject of numerous debates, and it still is. However, we can not deny that fishing contains the same elements as any other sport when it comes to practice, dedication, knowledge, skill and strength.

There are numerous competitions in fishing, where anglers compete in different disciplines. Sport fishing in gaining more and more popularity and it is on a way to become an Olympic sport.

As an activity appealing to many, fishing can also make a great hobby for those not interested in the competitive part.

To be successful, anglers must have a lot of experience in which they invest time and money. Regardless of whether you are engaged in fishing as a recreational angler, or the professional one, perfecting of your skills will lead to better catch.

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