Sport fishing is a recreational sport that involves catching, weighing and measuring fish for competitions or tournaments. The history of sport fishing can be traced back to 1890. However, saltwater sportfishing was officially started and regulated by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) in 1939. Shortly after, the IGFA also began to monitor, regulate and record freshwater fishing competitions. Ever since, sport fishing has yielded hundreds of freshwater and saltwater fishing tournaments and derbies in the United States.

In order to compete in sport fishing, you must typically learn advanced techniques and obtain the proper sport fishing gear. For example, bass fishing rods can improve your chances of doing well in a bass fishing tournament. Moreover, you must be mindful of sport fishing regulations before entering a competition, particularly when out of state. Learn about fishing tournaments and how to advance your sport fishing knowledge by reading the following sections.

What is sport fishing?

Sport fishing encompasses any type of fishing that is done with a rod and reel for competition or recreational purposes. Because sportfishing is a type of recreational fishing, those terms are often used interchangeably. However, this term refers more specifically to fishing in a competitive sense.

Depending on the types of sport fishing you enjoy, there are several tournaments and derbies for you to compete in. In the United States, hundreds of major fishing tournaments are held every year. Some of these competitions allow professional anglers to compete for prizes and acclaim in the fishing community. Examples of prizes include cash, luxury boats and top of the line fishing gear. Conversely, other tournaments are designed for children or amateurs, thus requiring a lower skill level.

If you prefer to compete in large groups, there are sport fishing competitions that emphasize teamwork and family involvement. Moreover, recreational fishing does not have to be competitive if you are a casual angler. However, if you want to compete, you should start with small local competitions.

What fish are typically caught in sport fishing?

A wide variety of saltwater and freshwater game fish can be caught through sport fishing. However, some sportfish are harder to catch than others. The list below details some of the most popular species that competitive anglers aim to catch in competitions.

  • Bass – Professional bass fishing is one of the most profitable forms of sport fishing in the United States. As such, largemouth and smallmouth bass are two of the most common freshwater game fish in the country.
  • TroutTrout are small sportfish known to put up quite a fight. Moreover, most trout are found in rivers surrounded by scenic locations, making them popular fish among casual and competitive anglers. In general, these sportfish can be found in lakes, rivers, brooks and streams.
  • CatfishCatfish are some of the largest freshwater gamefish, with some specimens reaching over 300 pounds. Generally, this species is particularly popular in the south. In addition, these fish are known for being attracted by a wide variety of bait, from hotdogs to small fish.
  • Crappies – This gamefish is second only to bass when it comes to popularity in the United States. Crappies are usually found around rocks, logs and other debris in streams and rivers. Additionally, they are easier to catch around dusk.
  • SalmonSalmon can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. However, they are generally caught as freshwater game fish. Salmon are a common sportfish that are popular for their accessibility as well as their flavorful taste.
  • Marlin – Marlins are some of the toughest sportfish to catch, which is what makes them so attractive to competitive anglers. Moreover, blue marlins are the largest, strongest, fastest and most popular marlin gamefish species.
  • Tuna – Blue and yellowfin tuna are generally considered hard fish to catch. These gamefish have high stamina and are very strong, thus posing a challenge in order to be caught.
  • Swordfish – Landing this sportfish is considered one of the highest achievements for an angler. Swordfish are considered to have the highest stamina of all game fish. Additionally, they inhabit very deep waters and only get near the surface at night, which makes them hard to catch.
  • Tarpon – Tarpon, also known as the silver king, was one of the first fish to be declared an official game fish. Over time, this species has remained a favorite among saltwater anglers. Moreover, these sportfish can leap up to 10 feet out of the water and give fishermen a great fight.
  • Wahoo – This sportfish can reach speeds of 50 miles an hour. Thus, a wahoo is often regarded as one of the fastest fish in the sea. Additionally, these fish can be tricky to catch when they are first hooked, as they sprint off in a panic and pull hundreds of yards of fishing line in seconds.

What are the sport fishing techniques?

Certain advanced techniques may be better suited for sport fishing competitions. For example, there are fishing tournaments specifically for jig fishing and pole fishing. Moreover, below is a list of the general techniques commonly used in major tournaments:

  • TrollingTrolling is a sport fishing technique that is most often used to catch fast and strong saltwater wish. Specifically, having multiple types of bait strung together can attract more predatory fish. For that reason, trolling with live bait is used to catch big game fish such as marlin and tuna.
  • Kite fishing – Kite fishing is among the most popular sport fishing techniques used in saltwater environments. This method involves using a kite to extend the reach of an angler’s line. Thus, it allows you to catch fish further out at sea.
  • Live-baiting – Live-baiting is a great fishing technique to use in both freshwater and saltwater. For instance, catfish are typically attracted to smaller fish, so using live bait works well for catching this species. Similarly, large saltwater gamefish like swordfish and tuna are also more attracted to small fish as live bait.
  • Fly fishing – Fly fishing is a sport fishing technique that is used in many tournaments. As a type of still fishing, fly fishing is often used in calm waters to catch game fish, like tarpon. Additionally, the precision and lightness offered in fly fishing makes it an excellent technique for catching freshwater species, like trout.

Chumming the water is another sport fishing technique used to catch larger fish. However, this method can attract sharks, which may frighten the actual game fish you are trying to catch. To learn more about different fishing techniques, you can continue reading, here.

What regulations apply to sport fishing?

Sport fishing regulations adhere to the guidelines set for recreational anglers. Thus, a recreational fishing license must be obtained in order to sport fish. Moreover, that license will dictate the fish you can or cannot catch throughout the year. For instance, only two salmon can be caught per day by recreational anglers in California. These rules and regulations apply to all registered anglers in order to protect endangered species and maintain fish populations for commercial and recreational fishing.

Sport and recreational anglers must be conscious of specific fishing seasons. For example, recreational fishermen in Wisconsin cannot catch muskellunge during the months of spring. However, sport fishing regulations are different in every state, as each region has their own fish population to manage. Therefore, make sure to look up the specific local regulations set by a state or region before going to fish. For more information on fishing regulations, you can continue reading, here.

What is a sport fishing license?

You must obtain a recreational fishing license in order to participate in fishing tournaments. In general, recreational fishing licenses are offered separately according to freshwater and saltwater environments. However, you can often obtain them as a combo as well. Therefore, depending on the sport fishing you are interested in, you may choose one type of license or both. Depending on how often you fish, you can acquire a license that is valid for one of the following periods:

  • 3-day license
  • 7-day license
  • Annual license
  • 5-year license
  • Lifetime license

Novice anglers who are interested in sport fishing can start with an annual license first. Then, they may renew their licenses if they continue to enjoy the activity. If you are a casual angler who only fishes during your vacation, a week or weekend license may be enough. Moreover, the price for a sport fishing license varies depending on each state. For example, recreational fishermen in Florida can obtain an annual license for $17. Furthermore, all of the proceeds made from recreational fishing licenses fund the conservation and maintenance of natural environments.

What is the best sport fishing equipment?

The proper sport fishing gear can significantly impact your success in competitions, derbies and tournaments. Consider the following tips on how to pick sport fishing gear:

  • Lures For freshwater sportfish, you may use worms, small rubber lures or jigs, which will entice bass and trout. Conversely, you will need larger rubber lures to attract the attention of big game saltwater fish. Moreover, live bait yields the best results for catching large saltwater fish.
  • LinesA fishing line connects all of the important parts of a fishing rig. As such, braided lines are typically more reliable for freshwater sport fishing, as they are relatively strong. For saltwater sport fishing, thick braided lines are recommended. Moreover, steel lines are often used for very large fish, such as sharks and marlin.
  • Rods and reelsThere are specialized types of rods for both saltwater and freshwater sportfishing. For example, bass fishing rods are best suited for catching bass. Moreover, anglers require heavyweight rods to catch a marlin. It is also important to check if the rod you want already has a reel attached to it. If not, you will need to buy a specialized reel separately.
  • Hooks Various lures already come with attached hooks. However, if you are planning to do fly fishing, trolling or bait fishing, you may consider hooks of different sizes. Moreover, the number of hooks you will be using may vary depending on each technique.

To learn more about sport fishing gear and each specific type of equipment, continue reading, here.

What are the best sport fishing boats?

Sport fishing boats give anglers the opportunity to catch large species of fish off-shore. Moreover, these vessels are often equipped with cabins, kitchens and indoor plumbing. Therefore, certain fishing boats allow you to stay out on the water for days at a time. Additionally, some boats are equipped with docks on the port side to accommodate fishing rods. With all of that in mind, boats are well-suited if you are interested in sport fishing and want to catch big game fish such as marlin and tuna.

In addition to traditional sport fishing boats, most yachts also have the features offered by vessels made for sport fishing. If you are interested in learning more about sport fishing boats and popular brands like Whaler, you can click here.

What are the best destinations for sport fishing?

Great sport fishing destinations are located across the United States and around the world. Moreover, different locations are best-suited for certain species of fish. If you want to keep your sport fishing adventures local, the U.S. provides an abundant amount of great fishing spots. Below is a short list of sport fishing destinations that can also double as great vacation spots for your family.

  • The tropics – The tropics are among the best sport fishing destinations available. For example, massive marlins can be found in the Bahamas. Moreover, Fiji is known for its Bluefin tuna. Additionally, Hawaii, has great sport fishing options and hosts some of the most well-known tournaments in the country
  • East Coast – The East Cost of the United States offers optimal big game fishing For instance, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is held in North Carolina. In addition, the Yamaha Contender Sportfish Tournament happens in Florida. In general, species such as Bluefin tuna and marlin can be found off the East Coast.
  • Great Lakes – The Great Lakes are great freshwater sport fishing For example, largemouth bass are commonly found in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Thus, the various states that border these lakes are considered great fishing destinations.
  • Mountain Rivers – Mountainous states with large running rivers and streams are the best spots for catching freshwater gamefish such as trout. For instance, the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park houses various types of trout.

What are the biggest sport fishing tournaments?

Trophy fishing can be very profitable for anglers who are interested in competing in tournaments. Certain professional fishermen dedicate their lives to sport fishing by entering high-profile tournaments. As a consequence, these anglers can win large monetary rewards and gain profitable sponsorships. Below is a list of the some of the most popular sport fishing tournaments.

  • Bassmaster Tournaments – Bassmaster fishing tournaments are held for anglers of all levels of experience, from amateurs to professionals. The most notable Bassmaster Tournament is the Bassmaster Classic, which determines the best bass fisher in the world.
  • World Freshwater Angling Championship – This sport fishing competition is based on teams rather than individuals. Teams of six representing their respective countries compete to accumulate the most weight in fish during a period of time.
  • Lake Champlain International Fishing Derby – This sport fishing tournament is the oldest and largest freshwater fishing derby in the United States. It offers a variety of awards for different species, sizes and weights, with the grand prize being $300,000.
  • Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament – The Big Blue Rock Marlin Tournament is a week-long fishing event with a variety of cash prizes and competition categories. This sport fishing competition offers one of the largest cash prizes in the world, reaching $1,000,000. However, this tournament’s grand prize depends on its number of competitors.
  • Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament – This is a very popular sport fishing event in South Florida. Moreover, it has been a favorite among deep-sea anglers for over 30 years.
  • Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo – This long-standing sport fishing event has taken place for the past 50 years. The Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo includes dozens of small awards, such as top boat and greatest fish weight.
  • Del Brown Permit Tournament – This tournament was named after legendary fly fisher Del Brown. Thus, this sport fishing competition is one of the most popular fly fishing events in the United States.
  • White Marlin Open – The White Marlin Open is the world’s largest billfish tournament. As such, this fishing competition features a large grand prize of approximately $3,000,000.
  • Big Bass Splash – The Big Bass Splash is the largest amateur fishing tournament in the United States.
  • Hawaii International Billfish Tournament – This sport fishing tournament is one of the oldest international fishing competitions in the world.

What are the biggest fish ever caught on record?

Throughout the history of sport fishing, anglers have always been motived by catching larger and heavier fish. Moreover, various records have been broken over time by anglers who were sport fishing. The following are some the largest fish ever caught on record:

  • Great White Shark – The largest saltwater fish ever caught was a Great White Shark weighing 2,664 pounds.
  • Black marlin – Marlins are generally considered some of the largest sportfish in the world aside from sharks. The biggest marlin ever caught was a black marlin weighing 1,560 pounds.
  • Bluefin tuna – Tuna are a popular sportfish known to grow rather large. Historically, the largest tuna fish ever caught was a Bluefin tuna that weighed 1,496 pounds.
  • Swordfish – The swordfish is a popular sportfish that is sought after by various anglers in different big game competitions. The largest swordfish ever caught was 1,182 pounds, a record that has not been broken since 1953.
  • Stingray – The largest freshwater fish ever caught was a 14 foot stingray that weighed approximately 800 pounds.
  • Mekong giant catfish – A nine-foot giant catfish was caught in Thailand and weighed 646 pounds. This fish was the size of a grizzle bear.
  • Largemouth bass – Arguably the most popular sportfish on this list, the largemouth bass record is one of the most revered fishing titles. The biggest largemouth bass ever caught was 22 pounds. Two different fishermen are tied in this record, both in terms of fish length and weight. As one of the most popular game fish in the world, largemouth bass records are highly sought after.

How can I enter a fishing tournament?

Sport fishing tournaments held across the country attract anglers of all ages and skill levels. These tournaments are sport fishing competitions that test the skills of anglers in catching certain fish or using specific techniques. You may enter a sport fishing competition by following these steps:

  • Look for local competitions – If you can fish locally, there are probably a few fishing competitions near you. Sport fishing is a popular activity in several communities, and certain competitions are held on small scales. Thus, search online, contact your local fishing governing bodies or ask around to discover the local tournaments you can enter.
  • See if you qualify – Once you have found a fishing tournament you wish to participate in, you must find out whether you qualify. Even casual competitions may have age, skill and technique requirements that must be met by all participants. Regardless of the sport fishing competition you enter, be sure to carefully read over all of the rules.
  • Sign up – After confirming that you qualify to enter a competition, you may sign up and pay any required entry fees. Many sport fishing events have cash prizes that are paid for by participant entry fees. Thus, so be prepared to spend at least a few dollars to enter.