What Is Sport Fishing? 11 Things You Need to Know About It

Fishing is one of humanity’s oldest activities, and it is no wonder that after the decrease in the necessity to go fishing for survival reasons, sport fishing (or recreational fishing) has gained in popularity immensely. Fishing can in many ways be both the most peaceful and exciting hobby. But what is exactly sport fishing? 

Sport fishing (same as recreational fishing) is a hobby and sport in which people most commonly use rods and reels to fish for different types of fish, purely out of sports and recreational purposes. 

In today’s article, we will walk you through 11 things you need to know about sport fishing if you are interested in getting into the world of it, or perhaps want to start fishing recreationally yourself.

For many, it is a fulfilling hobby and sport, but just like with hunting, it isn’t necessarily wise or enjoyable to start out on the journey without background knowledge. Read on for more!

What Is Considered Sport Fishing? 

Sport fishing might be a term not so easily defined, but we will attempt to clarify exactly the type of fishing this article is about for more context. 

Sport fishing is kind of like an umbrella term for nearly all fishing activity with the exception of commercial/industrial fishing. 

Commercial fishing is a job, not a hobby or a recreational activity. It is done by people who get paid, and who have the job of fishing large amounts of fish and other sea animals, generally for food. 

On the other hand, sport fishing is everything that isn’t paid, for and which isn’t one with the primary intent of gathering food, but rather with a recreational, hobby-like mindset behind it. 

So, from that uncle or granddad we all know who used to go out fishing on a lake at 4 or 5 in the morning their whole lives, to the sport fisherman winning competitions and tournaments, sport fishing covers a pretty large spectrum. 

Basically, the most important distinction between commercial and recreational fishing is the intention while going in. Commercial fishing has the intention of earning money by selling seafood, while recreational is the space for nature lovers to enjoy a hobby they like. 

A good analogy would be the difference between an enlisted soldier and a paintball player. 

Why Is Recreational Fishing Important? 

Recreational and sport fishing, even though it is only a sport with not much financial incentive behind it, can actually be considered not only a desirable hobby but also an important one. In this segment, we will be discussing why that is so. 

The first aspect of recreational fishing that makes it an important activity is simply the human and social aspects. Many communities, friendships, and relationships are actually centered around or built upon a common passion for fishing, or at least a positive experience with it. 

It connects us to our roots, to nature. It is a very natural hobby, and the combination of this connection with nature with the human connections that tend to come from such an activity, it is already clear to see how recreational fishing might be an important element of a given community. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sport fishing is important per se, in a cultural or economic sense. There is another aspect of sports fishing that actually makes it that. 

Actually, recreational fishers generate revenue for government bodies and companies that deal with aquatic resource management, making it easier for them to take care of the waters, regulate fish populations in a healthy way, or keep the environment clean and green, contributing to ecology. 

Many people, though a minority in the worldwide population of recreational fishers, do actually fish for food. Either out of necessity or out of just a strong will to consume high-quality protein from fish, there are significant amounts of people who can add a lot to their own and their family’s diet by providing fresh, healthy fish as a source of protein, fats, and minerals. 

This makes sport fishing important in a socio-economic sense since it can help poorer families provide high-quality nutrition to their families, which in turn results in better health, better growth, better life, and ultimately a less overrun healthcare system. 

Types of Sport Fishing 

Types of Sport Fishing 


The sport or activity of angling refers to using a hook attached to a line to catch fish. Basically, it is what we all think of when we think of fishing; someone using a rod, a line, and a hook with bait attached in order to catch fish. Angling is almost always done with some type of bait and sinker on the hook. It can be done on the shore, from a boat, or off some dock.

Bottom Fishing

This type of fishing is done in order to catch the fish living near the bottom of the body of water in use. These are fish such as catfish, bream, crappie, and others. This is usually done by attaching a weight to the end of the line, which then pulls the line down deep into the water. 


Casting refers to the action of throwing out (casting) the fishing line far into the body of water, often using a flexible fishing rod for maximum effect. Interestingly, casting is a sport on its own, since there is a separate art to being able to cast the line with accuracy and precision, which often determines the catch and thus the proficiency of the fisherman. 

Fly Fishing 

Fly fishing, as the name suggests, is the type of fishing in which flies are used at the end of the fish hook for bait. This can be done nearly anywhere, but the most common and most effective place to do it would be a riverbank, where one can use this technique to catch fish like trout, salmon, and carp. 

Ice Fishing

For the last example, we have chosen arguably the most interesting of fishing techniques or styles, which is ice fishing. It is the practice of drilling or sawing smaller holes or openings into sheets of ice floating on water and fishing through it. 

This is often done by hand as well, which is when there is no rod or reel to aid in the process, but the line is let down into the water and then pulled out by hand. 

Equipment Needed for Recreational Fishing

Equipment Needed for Recreational Fishing

Say you have taken a liking to the hobby or are just willing to try it out because a friend has been convincing you for ages. The first place to start is always by having the right choice of equipment. It will determine both your experience and your success, so it shouldn’t be ignored. 

The list, however, is not very complicated. The type of equipment you will bring to the occasion will largely if not completely depend on the fish you are looking for and the environment you are in, but we will run through a classic fisherman’s kit. 

  • First and foremost, a fishing license for the region. This is the only legal way to fish, and rules and procedures can vary from state to state and from country to country even more. Always check the laws and rules of your region, and acquire a license before fishing to avoid fines and penalties. 
  • A fishing rod and reel. This is the centerpiece of your equipment, the one you will have a connection to all the time. For beginners, it isn’t necessary to invest in high-quality equipment. As a rule of thumb, if you have never fished before, any rod-reel combo above 40 bucks in a fishing store should be a great option. 
  • A monofilament fishing line. Monofilament is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to fishing. It is durable, resistant, great overall to use, and lasts a long time. It is advised for beginners with no specific goal or specialization, who are looking to have a good time. 
  • Fish hooks of different sizes (6 to 10 should do just fine). 
  • A cobber. This can either be a store-bought, plastic cobber, or it can even be something like a cork. Anything that floats on water and is visible, plus can be tied to a line will do. 
  • Live bait and/or lures. Ask someone in the area about the type of bait or lures being used there, since it depends on the type of fish in a given area. 

Sport Fishing License

As mentioned above, a sport fishing license is a necessary part of your equipment, since owning one is the only way in which you can fish legally anywhere in the world, frankly.

It is usually not a complicated process to acquire, since most often, the procedure consists of paying an X sum of money to have a license for Y time, and you are done. 

Rules, laws, and prices differ between states and countries, so make sure you do your research before deciding to go fishing. 

Sport Fishing Tips

  • If you are fishing from a boat, which we will discuss later on, make sure to find a spot that is “out-of-the-way” and doesn’t have a lot of boat traffic. Boat traffic can scare away fish, and a more quiet place will definitely yield better results. 
  • Use Google Maps to look for locations people don’t often use. In the same way, as with boat fishing, places which are used less often are more likely to be full of marine life. 
  • Start with learning some knots. Knots are really important for fishing, and if you learn them early, you will have an important tool in your toolkit. 

Can Recreational Fishermen Sell Their Catch? 

Short answer: no. That is why it is recreational. The maximum you can do with fish you have caught is to take them home and eat them. However, even that has to be done through a legal procedure, which often means paying for the fish and only taking fish home which is above a given weight and is not endangered. 

Is Sport Fishing Bad? 

Some people might ask whether sport fishing is bad or not.  After all, you are poking holes in the fish’s mouth for, basically, fun. So, is it ethical? Is it harmful? 

In short, not really. Of course, some people do have ethical issues about poking holes in fish mouths, which is a completely valid point, however, recreational fishing, as mentioned before, can be an important way to regulate waters, provide nutritious, fresh food, and also, most importantly, to generate massive revenues for water-regulating bodies and companies. 

This revenue then goes into keeping the environment clean, and into regulating waters, creating policies, and much more, which in the end turn out to be a massive benefit for the wildlife in the waters. In this sense, sport fishing protects the fish more than it harms them, so, generally, sport fishing isn’t bad. 

The social aspect of coming together, having a hobby you adore, and spending some awesome time with friends should also not be neglected, since it adds to the emotional and social well-being of people. 

Sport Fishing vs. Fishing: What is the Difference? 

Basically, there is not much difference between these two. Sport fishing is recreational fishing done for sports purposes. This means it is competitive, there are tournaments and competitions organized for it, and there are winners and losers. It is fishing, turned into a sport. 

Fishing, on the other hand, or recreational fishing is the same thing but without the rankings and competitive atmosphere. It is usually for social or personal purposes and is much more like a hobby. 

What Is the Difference Between Commercial and Recreational Fishing? 

This one is a bit more straightforward: commercial fishing is done for, as the name says, commercial reasons. The fish caught is sold, and the company makes a profit off of that. It is highly regulated by governments, but it is basically the business of fishing and is also done in much larger quantities. 

Recreational fishing is a personal hobby, a past-time that people tend to choose for winding down, enjoying nature, and possibly finding some great fish to eat. Fish caught this way, as mentioned before, cannot be sold, since it is illegal. 

How Much Does a Recreational Fishing Boat Cost? 

If you are really passionate about fishing, you might start looking into buying actual boats for fishing, which will open up a whole new world of fishing for you. However, these boats are larger investments, which require quite a lot of organization and financial planning ahead to get. But, just how expensive are they? 

Well, a lower-end, smaller fishing boat costs around 10,000 USD. A boat like this will not carry you far, it will have one engine and some basic fishing equipment like rod holders and basic electronics. It is pretty bare-bones but will do fine.

The end of the spectrum, at least the “somewhat realistic” end of the spectrum tops out at around 80,000-100,000 USD. There are obviously boats a lot more expensive, but in terms of functionality, 80 grand will probably get you all you could be looking for. 

Between these two amounts, you can find a large number of boats suitable for all types of fishing, with a myriad of different setups and equipment combinations, so it will really be up to your personal choice to choose the best one for your needs once you get to the point where you will want to purchase your own fishing boat. 

Best Sport Fishing Boats

When talking about the best sport fishing boats, it is obviously quite hard to pinpoint a couple of them which stand out, since there is an incredible number of configurations and types, all with different uses. However, we will mention three boats which are great options if you are looking for one. 

A beginner boat shouldn’t be too large, expensive, or fancy. It should have low maintenance costs but still, perform well enough and have all the basic equipment that a boat needs in order to provide a great experience. 

One of these boats is the somewhat more expensive, but incredible Boston Whaler 170 Montauk. It does have a price point that is higher than your average beginner boat, but it does perform great and it is also large enough for solo fishing or even fishing trips with friends since it is 17 feet long. 

Another incredible beginner’s choice is the Scout 175 Sportfish. It is somewhat cheaper than the previous boat but is also a truly enjoyable boat for fishing. It is 5 inches longer than the Boston Whaler, and can also easily fit a group of friends. Being fuel-efficient and easy to maintain, all while being stylish, it is a great choice for passionate fishermen. 

If you are looking for a higher-end boat that costs a lot more but provides an incredible experience, look no further than the Contender 22 Sport. Its cost is nearing the upper end of the spectrum that we mentioned, but it does make up for the price. Aside from being really well built and looking great, it can max out at 300 horsepower, which is formidable. 

It is also 4 feet longer than the previous boats we mentioned and is built with even higher-quality materials. It is an exquisite experience.