Man fishing on Cox Lake.

Health benefits of fishing

Fishing is an iconic Canadian pastime. There’s nothing like spending the day by the water with your friends and family, casting a line and enjoying the great outdoors.

But did you know you can get more than a killer catch from a day of fishing? Fishing actually has benefits for your physical and mental health.

Here are a few ways fishing can improve your overall well-being.

Benefits to your mental health

Fishing requires lots of focus and awareness. This takes your mind off internal conflict and stress, similar to meditation. As a result, it helps to reduce anxiety, fight off depression, and promote relaxation.

Man and child cast out into lake while wading into water

Studies have shown that fishing lowers your cortisol levels (otherwise known as the stress hormone).

This positive effect can last for as long as three weeks after a fishing trip. Fishing has even been used to help people who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD.

fishing at sunset

Fishing is never an exact science.

The bait that caught you the big one the day before can be totally ineffective the next. Changing up your bait, finding new fishing spots, and trouble-shooting fishing rod issues may seem like simple problems.

However, all of these challenges are helping you develop problem-solving and analytical skills, improving your cognitive function and creative thinking.

Benefits to your physical health

Fishing is a bigger workout than you might think!

By the time you cast your line, wade through streams, walk to a new fishing spot, and reel in your fish, you’ve had quite the cardiovascular exercise!

This low-impact exercise engages your shoulders, back, core, arms, and legs, improving your balance and working your muscles.

Man and daughter smile at camera with fishing rods on dock

While fishing you’ll have the chance to soak up the sun. Vitamin D from the sun improves your immune system and promotes cell growth, helping to fight off illness and disease. It’s also a great mood booster!

Fancy a shore lunch? Eating your catch is good for you too! Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces risk of stroke and decreases blood pressure. There has also been evidence that eating fish can help your eyesight and decrease risk of asthma.

shore lunch in front of cabin

Check out the Guide to eating Ontario fish to identify the types and amounts of fish that are safe to eat.

Benefits for children

Fishing is good for your little ones too.

Instructor shows fish to two children by lakeside

Odds are, the first cast you send into the water won’t catch a fish. Fishing teaches patience, as children learn to wait for a bite and stay calm when they lose a fish. Even just being outside has been proven to reduce symptoms of ADHD.

Child fishing at Darlington

Fishing takes a lot of dexterity. Fishing line is thin and easily tangled. Attaching worms to hooks takes special care, and a successful cast depends on some pretty precise timing. These small tasks help develop children’s fine-motor skills. Learning something new is also great for building cognitive function!

In a digital world, kids and adults alike are constantly exposed to screens and technology. Going fishing gets everyone off their digital devices and promotes an appreciation of the natural environment. Being around water has even been proven to make people feel calmer and more creative.

Clearly fishing is a great activity to improve your health.

New to fishing?

Consider planning a trip during one of Ontario’s four licence-free Free Family Fishing periods.

You can also take the free two-hour Learn to Fish program at various locations (including several provincial parks!) across Southern Ontario. To find locations and program schedules, please visit: