Mental health issues are a concern for many people. Wellness of the mind can be improved by outdoor activities, including fishing. The sport is engaging, helps you relax, and has the ability to sooth a troubled mind. Being in nature alone has positive effects on mental well-being; adding the element of water, which has a proven effect of lessening anxiety, increases the benefits. Practicing an activity that reduces stress results in a peaceful state of mind. It’s no fish tale: there is more to fishing than catching fish!
Imagine the scene: Fair weather, sun sinking in the sky, gentle flow rocks your boat, and you’ve left your problems on shore. You cast and reel, enjoying springtime bass fishing — smallmouth — on a river. The habitat is perfect for your game: cool water along a rocky point with aquatic vegetation. Your spinner bait soars toward a bank, arching high before plunging beneath the surface and you set a rhythm of reeling in and casting. You’re in the zone.
Flick your line. Spinner flies. Plunk. Sink. Reel.
Your footing is sturdy and your bait attracts a fish. A smallmouth bass senses the vibration of the spinnerbait. Thump. Flash. Movement. The smallie can’t resist.
A few feet below the surface it strikes the bait and you feel the thrill of a tug as your line gets heavy. You set the hook, keep the rod tip up, and let the drag and rod work. The fish slows down, then fights as you reel and pump. The tip bends like a willow stick in rainy weather but you hold it up, reeling. Keeping pressure on the fish, you see it surface and flip. Net-ready, you reel your catch toward the edge of the boat and scoop it up, hoisting it into your boat. A trophy smallie!
Your brain is engaged. Nature, water, fishing. You’ve forgotten the pile of bills on your kitchen table. Your mind is far from the unopened emails waiting for you at work. That fight with your partner has diminished as you’re absorbed in your surroundings, engrossed in an activity that makes the world go away, if only for a span of time. Fishing.
According to Mental Health America (MHA), youth mental health is worsening, poor mental well-being in adults is increasing, and people struggling with anxiety and depression is growing. While one form of treatment isn’t always enough, compiling several forms of treatment can greatly improve wellness of the mind. Simple activities, like fishing, can be enough for some people, or it can be a beneficial addition to more serious interventions (medication, therapy).
The Effect of Nature on Anxiety and Depression
More and more evidence is published that shows the positive effects of nature on mental health problems, like anxiety and depression. While screen time — smartphones, computers, television — can diminish wellness of the mind, Mother Nature nurtures it. Americans spend multiple hours a day looking at a screen. Attention and mood are benefitted by being outdoors, from a simple walk in a park or a forest to being on a lake, floating or fishing.
Waters Effect on Mood Disorders Is Proven
Waves lapping on a shore, the gentle rock of water as you recline in a boat, the smells, the sounds… water has healing powers! Just being near a body of water has a calming effect on the body and mind. Muscles relax, breathing deepens, brains slow down. Scientists keep studying the effect of water on humans and they keep coming up with more evidence that being near or on a body of water has positive effects.
Fishing Benefits Mental Wellbeing
It’s as simple as that. Fishing is a great hobby, but it is also a great therapist! It benefits physical wellbeing and promotes a healthy mental state. The exercise is good for the body; exercise is also good for the mind. In addition, the effect of fishing on the brain has been researched and shown to have a meditative effect.
It’s a simple equation: nature + water + fishing = a healthier mind.
So you want to go fishing? Not everyone has access to a boat, let alone the gear needed to engage in the activity. If you’re looking to keep it simple, water and a fishing pole are all you need (plus a form of bait). If you want to step it up, Brad Miller, expert Smallmouth Bass fisherman offers a range of gear that will not only launch you into the sport, but is proven to be effective and affordable.
Miller, Crosby, Minnesota, grew up fishing. His angling adventures with his brother instilled in him a passion that remains. When he was a youth, he heard about river fishing for smallmouth bass.
“…I went fishing on the Mississippi one time… fly fishing for smallmouth with poppers… a surface fly that you pop a long and kind of make it look like a frog. I caught some really nice bass. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on river smallmouth bass fishing,” said Miller.
On his website, FlyBass.com, Miller offers quality products “without the typical hype found on the internet today.” He helps you chose the best equipment for your needs, focusing on the fun of fishing. He is a fishing advocate who promotes the sport for more than catching fish; he sells the free components that come with it — quiet, simplicity, uncomplicated rest for the mind. Heck, he’ll even take a call (phone number on his website) and talk fish with you!
Fishing doesn’t require much equipment to reap it’s mindful benefits. Mental health will improve by any level of fishing. A pole and a dock, casting from a shoreline, kayaking and a rod baited with a night crawler — the lure is to engage. Relax. Escape. Fish.
The catch of the day is a healthier mind.