Fishing for Fun, Food and Fitness!

July 17th, 2013 | By Marjie No Comments


It is tempting to begin this article by writing “I enjoy fishing.” In all truth, I do enjoy fishing, but I’ve only been fishing (as in, with a rod and reel and bait) about four times in my life.

As a kid at church camp, I fished with a safety pin tied to a string with no bait, and caught many a bluegill that way because they were so used to campers throwing bread into the water that they would bite anything.

But when we decided to write an article about fishing in this issue of MOVE, I volunteered because (1) I was interested in learning more about the sport, and (2) I knew exactly who to ask for firsthand information. After all, everyone knows someone who loves to fish, and I am lucky to know a lot of true fishing enthusiasts.

Fishing for Fun

Whatever your age or gender, fishing can be a very enjoyable pastime. Says Judy M., 54-year-old retired educator and almost-year-round fisher, “I was seven the first time I went fishing, and I absolutely had a blast. I will admit that I prefer the ‘catching’ part to the ‘fishing’ part.” On the other hand, Judy S., a 58-year-old retiree, had her first fishing experience at the age of 10, then she didn’t try it again until she was in her late 30s, at which time she “was hooked” (pun intended). She “loves the peace and quiet, the natural surroundings, fresh air, the thrill of the bite and the challenge to land the big one.”

Fishing as a sport can be very relaxing or very physically demanding … and everything in between. Some of you reading this might envision Tom Sawyer lounging on the riverbank holding a tree branch with a line attached. Others might picture Brad Pitt fly fishing in “A River Runs Through It.” Still others might think of a two-hour struggle between fisher and marlin on a recent ESPN show about deep sea fishing.

One of the most relaxing things about fishing is that you are away from phones, computers, television and obligations. This quiet time often results in wonderful conversation, which many families find difficult to find time for in the normal course of a day.

Your own idea of “fishing for fun” will depend on your personal taste. River fishing can be done as you float along in a canoe or kayak. Lake fishing can be managed as you relax on the bank. Fly fishing is done standing in the shallows. Ask yourself what you consider “fun” and then consider which type (or types!) of fishing you would enjoy. Some people love all kinds!

Part of the fun of fishing is the cleaning and cooking of your bounty. If you’re camping or picnicking, you can spend some time as a family getting the fish ready, then cooking them over an open fire or a camp stove.  And if you think you’re going to be squeamish with the cleaning process, just remember that most people who fish say it’s not any worse than changing a diaper or cleaning up after a pet.

Fishing for Food

My stepfather was an avid fisher, especially walleye and crappie. But to my knowledge he never ate a bite of fish … not one. He just didn’t care for the taste of fish, but he sure loved the fishing (and catching). This is the best evidence I can share that fishing is not just for fish eaters.

I, on the other hand, could enjoy a good meal of fish almost every day of the week: catfish, salmon, haddock, orange roughy, halibut, trout, crappie, walleye … almost anything that used to swim is something I would like for dinner.

And many types of fish are very healthy for you. Doctors have acknowledged that the unsaturated fats in fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, appear to reduce the risk of heart disease. So eating fish is not only enjoyable for your taste buds, but for the rest of you as well.

Here in Georgia, we have an abundance of freshwater fish, from catfish to large and small mouth bass, crappie to trout, perch to walleye. You can see the entire (and very lengthy) list of Georgia’s fish population at Many of these are food fish, even though they are not popularly known as such.

Fishing for Fitness

Maybe Tom and Huck would disagree, but I know for a fact that fishing can offer a great workout from the cardio, strength, balance and even cognitive perspectives!

As one experienced fisher said, “Locating fish at different times of the year, recognizing their seasonal patterns, can be a real challenge. And as far as technique, each type of fish requires different bait or flies or tackle, jigs, live bait, weight and type of fishing line/filament. You have to be willing to learn and think and read about fish habitats and habits in order to be successful when you’re fishing.”

Said another, “Often we walk to a fishing spot … walking and sometimes hiking over large boulders, up and down embankments, through mud, in streams or rivers, not to mention balancing on shore, rocks, cliffs, tree roots, etc. And casting uses shoulder, arm and back muscles.  Fishing is hard work!  It is not for the faint of body or heart!”

Every single person I interviewed for this article agreed that fishing is a lifetime sport. It can be done and enjoyed by all ages, all genders, and it is a continual learning experience. You will never “know all there is to know” about this sport.

Final Thoughts

Fishing can range from very inexpensive to extremely costly, depending on the kind of fishing you do (lake, deep sea, etc.) and what your goals are. A basic fishing pole can cost $10 if it’s a child’s first-time gear, while experienced fly fishers may spend $800 or more for their rod and reel. Think about your costs for bait, boat, gas and tackle, too.

Georgia requires an annual fishing license for anyone 16-64 years of age; those over 65 can purchase a lifetime license. They are extremely affordable. Visit for specific fees and exceptions and explore for more information about fishing.

As sports go, fishing can be extremely affordable and easy to begin learning. It’s something you can do alone or with a friend or your entire family, paddling in a canoe, relaxing on the lake shore or sitting on a dock full of strangers.

One thing you’ll never have to ‘fish’ for, though, once you start fishing for fun, food or fitness … is someone who shares a love for this pastime.

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