Is Fishing Considered Hunting?

At some point every angler has had to think about this issue; is fishing hunting? It’s understandable why you would be wondering about this especially if you are just getting started as an angler.

Fishing and hunting have similarities that would make you think that when you fish you are actually hunting.

At the same time, there are so many differences between the two that categorizing them as one is just plain wrong.

Technically speaking, fishing is not hunting. Yes, both activities are all about going after animals. However, with fishing, you can enjoy it as a sport.

How? You don’t need to actually harm the fish. There is something called catch and release whereby you catch the fish and let it go.

Hunting on the other hand is all about pursuing an animal and killing it. There is no catch and release in hunting. The end goal is the death of the animal in question.

Why Do People Fish or Hunt?

To differentiate further between hunting and fishing there is a need to understand why people go hunting or fishing in the first place.

Fishing can be a sport, art, or occupation. It is also a recreational activity seeing that so many people have taken up fishing as a hobby.

Hunting is also a sport and to some level, it’s an occupation. Hunting involves killing or trapping animals.

While hunting dates centuries back, the details have improved over the years. Today it is a convenient as well as secure practice that most people enjoy partaking in.

In the past hunting was purely economical to put food on the table. Today people either hunt for food or as a recreational activity. Either way, there are rules and regulations put in place that help guide both practices.

Hunting or Fishing: Which is Better?

When you think about hunting and fishing, at the end of the day the end result is a dead animal. As such, while fishing may seem less harmful, it’s normal to wonder if fishing is actually hunting.

To better answer that question, it’s best if we look at what each practice involves and what they have in common, and why at the end of the day fishing is not considered hunting.

Requirements and Rules

If you’ve ever considered taking up hunting, then you know just how discouraging and alarming all the regulations can be.

For one, you are required to have a hunting license if you are to hunt. If you don’t have a license, it’s considered poaching, something that is illegal.

Before you obtain a hunting license, you are required to go through gun training exercises which are very rigorous.

Hunting most of the time involves carrying a rifle. Being mindful of your safety and that of others when you are hunting is the only way you can enjoy hunting without getting into trouble with the law.

Fishing has its own rules and regulations as well. While they are not as strict, the rules are mainly there to offer guidance and ensure that as you enjoy the sport, you consider nature preservation as well.

If you pay attention to the rules, you will realize that they are there to protect against such practices as overfishing which could see fish species become extinct after some years.

Ideally, there are also a lot of water bodies both public and private that you can fish at as long as you have a license.

On the issues of licenses, a hunting license is harder to obtain due to the strict regulations than a fishing license.

In terms of training, fishing training doesn’t take as much time. I mean, most of us learned fishing from our dads.

And in all sense, it’s much cheaper and easier to obtain a fishing pole than it is obtaining a gun and special hunting gear.

Both hunting and fishing require some level of physicality. With fishing, the strength and special skills required are little while hunting is more demanding.


There are strategies you need to adhere to in both fishing and hunting. In fishing, its pinch points; which are areas where the water stream is much smaller.

Anglers rely on such areas to catch so many varieties of fish. In hunting, pinch points are less common.

However, a hunter still needs to rely on finding areas where the animals are likely to be. Another strategy that comes into play in both practices is the preparation involved.

In both practices, you need to familiarize yourself with the hunting and fishing spots which could mean relying on contour maps or visiting the area beforehand.

The difference between the two is the type of animal you are targeting. In hunting, you most of the time only target one animal such as a deer or elk at a time.

Fishing, on the other hand, involves catching different species of fish especially when you are doing it as a recreational activity.

The human aspect of fishing and hunting

As mentioned earlier, both practices involve going after an animal. What you do with the animal however differs.

Fishing as an economic activity involves catching and killing fish for food. As a sport, however, it’s quite different.

Most anglers when fishing for fun rely on catching and releasing the fish rather than killing it. It’s no wonder fishing doesn’t have so many strict rules.

Hunting on the other hand involves purely killing an animal. There is no margin for catch and release.

When you think about it hunting involves the use of rifles mostly so, in reality, you don’t go to the wild to chase after an animal, shoot it and then let it go.

So, fishing is a little more humane. Also, the fact that fishing bodies are so many makes the sport less destructive to the environment.

What  about Spearfishing and Magnet Fishing?

If you’ve ever done spearfishing, then you might consider it hunting. Spearfishing involves using a spear gun to fish.

When the fish is shot, it is seriously injured and will therefore die instantly or a few minutes later.

So, there is no room for catch and release with spear hunting which is why it might be considered hunting.

Ever heard of magnet fishing? It’s a practice that involves using a powerful magnet that is attached to a rope.

The practice involves picking metallic objects inside the water. As you can see, there is no catching of fish when you do magnet fishing.

As such, it can’t be termed as hunting since there are no animals involved. Magnet hunting has become common especially among treasure hunters.

There have even been reports of people collecting all manner of objects including expensive jewelry and vintage objects like old guns.


You now have an understanding of what hunting and fishing involve. While both practices involve going after an animal, fishing is not considered hunting. Fishing is mostly a recreational activity that people engage in as a hobby. As such, there is not a lot of training that is required to become an angler.

If you have a fishing license, you can fish anywhere as long as you follow the rules. With hunting, you need rigorous training as well as a license to hunt. The result of hunting is the death of an animal which is why obtaining a license is most of the time difficult.

What both practices have in common is that the rules and regulations set in place are meant to help preserve nature in the long run.