Fishing for PTSD: Therapeutic Effects of Fishing for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

William Adams
 min read

Fishing for PTSD has become more and more commonly recommended by professionals.

Fishing for PTSD: Therapeutic effects of fishing for Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderPost-traumatic stress disorder is caused by severe, shocking events that people have experienced or witnessed that cannot be adequately processed.

As a whole, sportfishing significantly reduces symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related problems for a considerable period of time. Spending time in nature with like-minded people has been studied by experts and it is a fact that it is the best way to heal for all ages.

The disorder is found in ex-military personnel, war veterans, first responders, ambulance personnel, railroad personnel, war journalists, police officers, etc.

The symptoms are diverse, and it is mainly feelings of anxiety and the regular reliving of the traumatic event(s) that, unfortunately, make a normal life completely impossible.

Fishing for PTSD: Introduction

Did you know that fly fishing, a specific discipline within angling, is often used for people with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Sportfishing can indeed make a significant contribution to alleviating post-traumatic stress symptoms and don’t just take our word for it – this is backed up by scientific research by the University of Essex.

Reduction in symptoms thanks to fishing

The use of sportfishing significantly reduces symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related problems.

It is also striking that the reduction in symptoms thanks to angling persists over a long period.

This decreases tension and stress and improves psychological well-being, social ability, and positive behavior.

The calming nature of fishing promotes well-being

Sportfishing has a positive effect on the treatment of people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

For example, several studies show that spending time in nature promotes well-being and contributes to physical and mental recovery.

Mother Nature’s positive influence on our bodies is based on several principles:

  • Humans have evolved from a natural environment to an urbanized environment while just functioning optimally in a natural environment. Spending time in nature is really just going back to the roots.
  • Stress recovery is promoted when people are exposed to nature (camping in nature for example is an excellent tool to help you relax).
  • Exposure to a natural environment provides a positive distraction for people, perfect for forgetting daily stressors for a while. Mother Nature induces feelings of calm, pleasure, and relaxation, which reduces the symptoms of stress.

Sportfishing as a cure for post-traumatic stress disorder

Don’t take medicine but go fishing. This is the essence of sportfishing to naturally treat post-traumatic stress.

It’s lovely to be busy outside, along the waterfront, enjoying the smells, colors, and sounds and changing your senses.

The fish you may manage to catch is really just a bonus but it’s not the essence.

People stuck in a problematic situation can enjoy escape and relaxation through angling.

The healing effect of nature is at the heart of this approach and strategy. Catching a fish is actually not even necessary, although, of course, it is the icing on the cake.

The positive influence of fishing

You just do your thing on the waterfront and have a good time.

But you also learn to become more patient, meet new people from time to time, get to know other anglers, work on your fishing equipment, visit the angling store, read tips and tricks about your hobby, and watch fishing videos on YouTube, etc.

RelatedFishing waders guide: Everything you should know when choosing fishing waders

In short, fishing and spending time in nature can positively influence your life.

For whom does sportfishing work in a healing way?

Angling is an excellent hobby for people struggling with addiction, depression, social isolation, mental problems, disability, or a lingering, chronic illness.

The homeless, young people in danger of going off the rails, people with post-traumatic stress disorder (see above), or elderly people who hardly ever go outside can benefit from angling.

Healing for war veterans

Sportfishing can help process trauma.

War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, can be helped through sportfishing.

Learning new skills, such as hanging bait on a fishhook, tying artificial flies, casting a fishing rod correctly, attaching a float to the fishing line, and so on, can set one’s mind at ease.

Fishing is quite an experience, allowing you to completely clear your head and forget all the unpleasant memories from the past, at least for a while, which makes it excellent for mental healing.

Ex-military personnel who have been on missions and police officers, social workers, social workers, and railroad personnel can be impacted negatively by their jobs and become physically and/or psychologically distressed.

Also beneficial for partners and children of people with post-traumatic stress

Not only war veterans benefit from sportfishing to relieve post-traumatic stress.

For example, don’t underestimate how many marriages are on the rocks because of post-traumatic stress disorder in one of the partners.

The couple’s children also often bear the brunt of this and, unfortunately, already have extra baggage to carry because of the many arguments and a possible divorce.

It is in this context that sportfishing can play a stimulating role. Even if a separation is irrevocable, angling offers the ideal opportunity to do something fun in nature with the kids!

In the fresh air and with a common goal (catching a fish), with plenty of laughter again, and both the children and the parent can forget their problems and miseries.

In other words, thanks to angling, the relationship between the child and the parent can be restored and improved.

Tip: For more health benefits of fishing, read our other article Health benefits of fishing: Surprising physical & mental benefits

Fishing for PTSD: Conclusion

Exercising while spending time in nature and relaxing are great ways to forget about your problems and headaches for a while.

Are you struggling with some form of post-traumatic stress disorder? Then consider giving angling a try! It makes absolutely no difference that you are a beginner with no experience.

Almost everyone who tries fly fishing gets a taste for it pretty quickly. Tying your own artificial fly, for example, is already something special.

Concentrating on one specific thing for a long time with a particular end result as a goal already works wonders.

Focusing on the process of catching a fish and paying careful attention to the process from A to Z.

Fishing for PTSD brings peace of mind and can be so cathartic and relaxing!


  • Duvall, J. (2011). Enhancing the health benefits of outdoor walking with cognitive engagement strategies. Journal of Environmental Psychology
  • Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology
About William Adams

I’m an engineer and a happy plus-size individual myself. I love to blog online if I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. I help other plus-size people with in-depth product guides to make shopping for products and services less stressful in their busy lives. Read More