Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing for pleasure or competition. It can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is fishing for profit, or subsidence fishing, which is fishing for survival.
The most common form of recreational fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits. Other devices, commonly referred to as terminal tackle, are also used to affect or compliment the presentation of the bait to the targeted fish. Some examples of terminal tackle include weights, floats, and swivels. Lures are frequently used in place of bait. Some hobbyists make handmade tackle themselves, including plastic lures and artificial flies. The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is known as angling.
Sport fishing was previously dominated by men, however more women are participating in this sport.
When angling, it is sometimes expected or required that the fish be returned to the water (catch and release).
One method of growing popularity is kayak fishing. Kayak fisherman fish from sea kayaks in an attempt to level the playing field with fish and to further challenge their abilities. Kayaks are extremely stealthy and can allow anglers to reach areas unfishable from land or by conventional boat.
During the 16th century the work was much read, and was reprinted many times. Treatyse includes detailed information on fishing waters, the construction of rods and lines, and the use of natural baits and artificial flies. It also includes modern concerns about conservation and angler etiquette.
Recreational fishing for sport or leisure took off during the 16th and 17th centuries, and coincides with the publication of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation in 1653. This book is the definitive work that champions the position of the angler who loves fishing for the sake of fishing.
More than 300 editions of The Compleat Angler have been published, which makes it one of the most frequently reprinted books in English literature. The pastoral discourse is enriched with country fishing folklore, songs and poems, recipes and anecdotes, moral meditations and quotes from classic literature. The central character, Piscator, champions the art of angling, but also tranquilly relishes the pleasures of friendship, verse and song, good food and drink.
Big-game fishing started as a sport after the invention of the motorized boat. In 1898, Dr. Charles Frederick Holder, a marine biologist and early conservationist, virtually invented this sport and went on to publish many articles and books on the subject noted for their combination of accurate scientific detail with exciting narratives.
In the past, sport fishers, even if they did not eat their catch, almost always killed them to bring them to shore to be weighed or for preservation as trophies. A desire to improve the fishery has prompted many sport fishermen to catch and release, sometimes after fitting them with identity tags, recording some vital statistics, and mailing in a record to a government agency in something called tag and release.
Sport fishing competitions involve individuals if the fishing occurs from land, and usually teams if conducted from boats, as well as a specified time and area from which to catch fish. A score is awarded for each fish caught. The points awarded depend on the fish's weight and species. Occasionally a score is divided by the strength of the fishing line used, yielding more points to those who use thinner, weaker line. In tag and release competitions, a flat score is awarded per fish species caught, divided by the line strength. Usually sport fishing competitions award a prize to the boat or team with the most points earned.
"Pay to fish" enterprises provide anglers with controlled access to stocked lakes, ponds or canals. These provide fishing opportunities outside of the permitted seasons and quotas applied to public waters. In the United Kingdom, commercial fisheries of this sort charge access fees. In North America, establishments usually charge for the fish caught, by length or by weight, rather than for access to the site although some establishments charge both types of fees.
In the USA alone, 12 million recreational saltwater fishers generate $30 billion in economic impact and support 350,000 jobs.