That is a good question. You only need look at the newsagents to see the dominance of magazines such as Total Carp which focuses on the most popular form of fishing in Britain, carp fishing. So, we put it to an expert in the field, Mr Sullivan of British Baits, a leading retailer of fishing baits in the UK whose view was “When you are talking about fish like the carp that can be really wily and grow big enough to put up a ferocious fight it is hard to beat the excitement and challenge.”
Fishing for fun, or recreational fishing, has been around for an awfully long time. It is not clear quite when it began as an activity for pure enjoyment rather than survival though there are references to fishing as far back as ninth century Japan with references to fly fishing. It is likely, however, that this was more to put food on the table. There can be not doubt, however, that by 1653 when Izaak Walton published ‘The Compleat Angler’ recreational fishing was a feature of life.
So, fishing as a sport or hobby has been with us for a while but where does it get its enduring appeal? Why are there so many dedicated afficionados?
There is no one answer to this. The activity of fishing can give so many different benefits and what you gain from it depends on the way you fish and just what you want as well.
Fishing can be a solitary affair where the fisherman can feel at one with their surroundings and take some time to be at peace. You can disconnect from the regular noise of the digital world that surrounds us, no emails or social media or phones. Take a little time out to destress and unwind for your mental health.
Conversely fishing can also be a very social activity. As a group, whether you know each other or not, there is a common bond and a shared desire for success in your mutual endeavours. Spending time in the company of people with shared interests can be very harmonious.
Some people enjoy the more competitive aspects of the experience. Trying to catch that elusive, legendary fish in a particular location or to pull out the biggest carp in the lake as an example.
The ways fishing can be done are also many and varied. Fly fishing while in the middle of a flowing river thigh deep in your waders, sitting quietly on the bank watching a float waiting for that bob that tells you of a strike, strapped into the fighting chair in the back of a boat on the open water with wind and sea in your face.
Whichever way you fish there is always the thrill of anticipation and the buzz of victory at various levels. Even when sitting on the riverside, sandwich in hand watching your line there is hope in the heart and a boost of adrenaline when it looks like there may be a fish on the end of the line. What follows is a period of battle where there is a delicious uncertainty. Will you land it? Will it slip the hook? The thrill of the hunt provides emotional satisfaction and enjoyment. Even the short-lived disappointment of ‘the one that got away’ leaves you with both the anticipation of your next encounter and a great story to tell over a drink with friends.
Part of the popularity of fishing is that it can give the angler whatever they want out of it. There are so many ways to derive pleasure from it that it is hard to do justice to them all. The short summary has got to be fishing is so popular because it is so much fun and so emotionally rewarding in so many ways.