We've all heard...and probably quoted...the
tongue-in-cheek adage, "When the going gets
tough, the tough go fishing." But did you
realize that physicians, psychologists, and
therapists across the country are actually
prescribing fishing to their patients? It
seems that healthcare practitioners are catching
on to the fact that fishing is good for the soul,
and what is good for the soul can also be good
for healing the body.
In Missouri, hospital administrators can
issue free fishing permits to patients who
are fishing as part of their prescribed
therapy. The Missouri Department of
Conservation issues these free permits to
hospital administrators statewide. And the
angler/patient does not need to buy a fishing
license to engage in the restorative pastime
of fishing for everything from catfish to trout
while under a doctor's care.
I know that my own doctors have always
encouraged me to fish as much as possible,
and I try very hard not to disappoint them.
Just what is it about fishing that is so
medically beneficial? Is one type of fishing
more beneficial to one's health than another?
I'm not aware of any clinical studies that
have been done on the subject. Personally, I
think fly fishing is probably the most beneficial
because of the level of concentration it takes
to be proficient. I also find tying my own
flies to be very therapeutic. I also walk
more while fly fishing than I would when, say,
fishing for bass from a boat. Probably the
most physically challenging, and thus the best
exercise, type of fishing is trophy fishing for
saltwater fish. But, not living near the ocean,
that's not a very practical option for me. So
the hiking and wading that comes along with my
fly fishing is the next best form of exercise
and the one I can most frequently take advantage of.
I wonder if fishing is more beneficial to one's
health than say hunting, canoeing, or other
forms of outdoor recreation. While Missouri
offers free fishing permits to patients under
a doctor's care and fishing as part of therapy,
the state doesn't offer a similar program to
hunters. But I don't know if it is safe to
draw the conclusion from this fact that fishing
is more therapeutic than hunting. I think it
is just due to the fact that there are more
stocked ponds and lakes on the grounds of
hospitals than there are safe hunting grounds.
I'm sure it seems far less threatening to hand
a patient a fishing pole and send them outside
than it does to hand them a gun and ammunition,
even though...statistically...it's probably just
as safe to hunt as it is to fish. There's just
something impractical about having patients
shooting the squirrels out of the trees outside
of a hospital in St. Louis. I think that's
probably why hunting and fishing are treated
differently in this case. And you don't need
a license to canoe around the pond.
Well, all this theorizing and hypothesizing
has gotten my stress level elevated. Perhaps
I'll try to relax and clear my head by spending
the afternoon on my favorite trout stream.
After all, it's just what the doctor ordered. ~ Ken (Silver Mallard)
Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University
in 1988, and spent the next several years serving
in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst
and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran
of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the
nation's service in 1993.
Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian,
having penned articles and stories that have appeared
in several national hunting publications like North
American Hunter magazine, on GunMuse.com, in regional
and local newspapers, and historical and literary
journals. He has also provided hunting and dog
training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other
sporting goods retailers nationwide. He volunteers
his time to Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited,
as well as several local charitable organizations.
He is also a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker in
Branson, Missouri; where he lives with his wife,
Wilma, and their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe.