Fishing is one of the few sports where anyone can get in on the action but that's only part of why it’s near and dear to the hearts of so many. Over 50 million Americans go fishing each year which makes it the 4th most popular sport by participation. To put this into perspective, 20% more people go fishing than play golf and tennis combined. The fishing community is huge and has grown even larger during the pandemic where it hit the highest participation rates in 10 years. But why is fishing so popular? A quick answer to that would be easy access and the ability to dive in at any age, but there is so much more to this beloved pastime than that.
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I have fished with anglers of all ages from a four year old armed with a Scooby Doo fishing rod to a 75 year old woman deep dropping for Alaskan halibut. While physical ability can certainly help anglers land big fish, it generally has very little impact on whether or not a trip is successful. Experience is the biggest advantage and like most things, the longer you do it the better you are. This is why the old salty veterans always seem to catch the most fish but there’s a variety of ways to fish and you can always try something new any time you want.
Fishing molds to the interests of the angler and grows with them throughout their life. Whether you start at four or 75 years old, fishing offers an adventure and experience that few other activities can match. A kid headed to the bank with a cane pole has the same curiosity and sense of adventure as a seasoned angler headed out on an offshore trip. While fishing with a cane pole and trolling for pelagic species are different in almost every way, the goal is still the same. It doesn't matter how old you are or how long you’ve been fishing, there’s always something to chase.
In simple terms, fishing is an attempt to catch fish typically using a hook, line, rod, and reel. The goal is to put a hook in front of a fish and encourage a bite. The angler has to pick the right bait, combine with a convincing retrieve, and get the fish to get to commit. It’s almost always a surprise and there are few things more exhilarating than a fish crushing your bait. While the goal is the same whether you are throwing flies at trout or jigging for red snapper, the required skillset changes. Different fish, environments, and tackle all require special techniques that are more effective for getting a bite. Fishing is full of these special techniques which means there’s a lifetime of skills to develop.
If an angler wants to try something new all they have to do is change one of these key things. The fish, environment, and tackle are the core of every fishing experience. These components of fishing are not independent of each other and changing one thing will likely impact the others. For example, a bass angler that wants to switch their target to tuna will also have to change tackle and the environment. This is very common in fly fishing where anglers originally caught trout in mountain streams but now target fish around the world covering everything from crappie to marlin. On the other hand, anglers can change just their tackle but target the same fish in the same water and it still opens up a brand new challenge.
Some anglers love throwing soft plastics on spinning gear, tossing the right fly to get a hard earned bite, catching exotic fish in faraway oceans, and eating freshly caught seafood. The truth is that everyone enjoys fishing for different reasons but that makes it easy to fill a boat. Even though two anglers may not share the same motivations for fishing they share a common interest in fishing and that's all you need to be welcomed into the community.
The more types of fishing you try the more likely you are to find the part of fishing that gets you fired up. If you want to branch out the easiest way to try something new is to get a guide, book a trip, and have an expert show you what it’s all about. Guides have a lifetime of fishing experience and are happy to answer your questions because they want to share the passion they have for their craft. Their wide range of knowledge and years of experience teaching people how to fish will save you tons of frustration and shorten the learning curve.
The fishing community is shaped by anglers like you and me who take to the water and pursue fishing in a way that lights up their mind. The more anglers that continue to chase their own unique ways of fishing the more the sport grows. Without the creative and unique interests brought in by anglers, bow fishing and kayak fishing would’ve never made a comeback and the wacky rig may never have existed. These interesting developments in fishing technique and style have created new avenues for anglers to explore.
The other part of the equation is continuing to pass along a passion for fishing and the outdoors as a whole. The next generation of anglers will be responsible for carrying the torch and taking care of the lakes, rivers, and oceans. These spots are where so many of us had the best and worst of times trying to catch fish. It’s important to bring new anglers into the world of fishing regardless of age. Take as many prospective anglers fishing as you can and teach them why fishing is special to you. Hopefully, they will develop their own passion for the sport likely fueled by curiosity. Don’t be hopeful – Help them develop the passion and “spread the love” to future generations.
Updated on December 6, 2022
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