Is Fishing Good for Mental Health? It Sure is For Mine!

This morning I was in my local gas station getting a cup of coffee. As I poured it into my cup, I overheard a guy telling his buddy how fly fishing is the only way he can cope with the stresses of his daily life. “Watching the fly intently and looking for the next place I want to cast, instantly takes my mind off my problems” he said.

I wrote last year about the other health benefits of fishing, you can find that at:

After hearing this I started thinking back to the times when I was struggling with life issues and was pulled out of my stressful dilemmas by partaking in fly fishing. One instance was during a big breakup several years ago. After breaking off the relationship, the first thing I did was drive to Northern Michigan to spend a couple days trout fishing. By the end of a couple days of hardcore fishing, my mind was clear and I came to the realization that I was a lot better off now than I was within the relationship. Had I sat home and thought about it too much, it would have been much worse and I likely would have made a phone call and the relationship would have continued. It inevitably would have ended again with perhaps more pain than the previous breakup. Chilling out in nature allowed me a fresh perspective. I remember the exact feeling I got in sort of a huge Aha! moment.  Watching nature go on about its business, while I sat there worrying about a terrible relationship made me feel pretty stupid. I realized the entire world awaited me and there is so much to explore, I didn’t need to be tied down anyway. It was these moments that triggered me to move to Idaho to become a fishing guide and pursue my dreams. Essentially, one fly fishing trip changed the course of my life forever. Otherwise I still might be trapped in that relationship in misery.

A road/fishing trip that helped me get through a bad breakup last year.

I had another bad breakup last year, so I took off on this road trip to Northern Idaho. Weeks of sitting home didn’t make me feel better, so I went exploring. Within a day I was feeling better than I had in a while.

In short, if you are struggling with some sort of issue, a fishing trip might just be the best thing for you. Better yet, take a road trip and go fishing all over the place! Just sleep in your car and fish your butt off!  When I am having some sort of problem that nags me, driving long distances and fishing new areas keeps my mind busy. Not only that, it gets you away from areas where you might be triggered to remember the problems you are trying to get over.  Meeting new people, exploring new areas and in general feeling totally free will always bring about a new perspective.

As if there was any doubt, read about how fishing has helped mentally ill patients here:

Watch this Recent Troutster Video!

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  1. john

    October 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Nice piece of writing- I’m new to fishing but am enjoying the similarities it has to what I’ve done my whole life (surfing). Getting out on the water, doing something that you do well (because you’ve paid your dues and put in the time), definitely can back you away from the edge.

    Dogs help too- stoked every time I see your buddy out fishing with you (Article idea: what makes a good fishing dog- you’ve probably got a lot of thoughts about that).

    I’m taking you up on the fishing trip idea. I’ve got three weeks this summer to go anywhere I want in the Western states.

    I can leave either June 1st (would Spring run-off be a concern?) or I can leave last week in June into mid-July (would flow levels be less of a concern?).

    I’m looking for general advice- no secret spots required or requested. Point me in the right direction: Green River Utah (I’d probably get a guide)?, Colorado? Montana? Leaning towards spots that are accessible by dirtbike since I like to set up camp and ride a moto out to fish.

    I was in Idaho last summer riding through for three weeks checking out your state and that kind of got me fired up to learn how to fly fish- figured I was riding past some of the best fishing rivers in the US, might as well learn how to fish.

    Took a guided lesson/trip up in Sierras with an awesome guide and watched (and hooked) a trout eat my hopper – so now I’m messed up.

    So- if you’ve got any general advice- must see/fish spots- or just a strong opinion on where you’d go, I’d appreciate the feedback. It’s a long way off but I’m way into making plans.

    Just saw part of the documentary, “Fly Highway” – how’s that route?

    Keep plugging away at the site- I’m learning a lot and digging all the content. I had/have my own site for a few years- I appreciate the work it takes to keep it current and especially make the films. Tons of work- mostly underappreciated.


    • Dub Paetz

      October 10, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      John, thanks for stopping by. The Green River in Wyoming or Utah would be good if that’s something you’ve wanted to fish. There are so many good rivers, it’s hard to pick really. Montana is loaded with trout. To be safe, I’d leave in later June, because runoff can be a concern for sure. But it’s hard to tell this far in advance because the snow pack has barely started to build. The Madison in Mt has a lot of access and you could ride your dirt bike all over. There are also dozens of other good rivers in that area if you wanted to mix it up.

      To say that the work put into websites is under appreciated is the understatement of the century. These things require non stop work for little money, but I do get a sense of satisfaction from it.

      I’ll be sure to check out your site soon. I’ll post back if I think of a another great area for dirt biking and fishing combined. Thanks for visiting, Dub Paetz

      • john

        October 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Got it- thanks for the tips.

        I’m leaving later in June. Heading to Montana… and will figure it out from there!

        Hey- you should know- your videos are my favorite for watching some dude (you) catch fish!

        The video game music, the random mumblings away from the camera (mmm, hmmm, mmm, mmm… this is a big fish folks… mmm, hmmm, mmm) as well as the tips, the “life style” clips (how’s that stale bag of Fig Newtons in the cab of your truck)… all good stuff.

        Top notch: Double the Van Damage and “there’s something on hey-dar…” Reply (Sean Connory voice), ” why do you keep saying that?” gold medal stuff… keep it coming! Kinda Phil Hendry-ish – love it.

        I worked on my site fairly constantly from the beginning of the stand up paddle craze until the climax of the invasion – it made me some money, got me a bunch of free stuff and gave me some (wanted or unwanted) notoriety- I’m almost at a million views (over five years – so peanuts in the internet world) which is crazy to me. Now I just post random stuff whenever I feel like it. Was a fun and crazy trip with a bittersweet ending.

        Keep it up- lurking at my desk when I should be teaching Chemistry.


        • Dub Paetz

          October 12, 2016 at 12:08 am

          John, thanks for all of the kind words, I appreciate it! I’ll hopefully have some time soon to make another fishing video. I’ve been scrambling to try to get a lot of stuff done before winter hits.

          Those stand up paddleboards have gotten quite popular. I’m amazed at how many I see on the river and stacked on cars. Nice work getting in on the ground floor of that craze!

          Hope you enjoy your trip to MT this spring, It’ll be here before we know it. Dub

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