If your ideal vacation is to a river dressed in waders or to a boat that smells distinctly like yesterday’s catch, it’s safe to say you like to fish. But you can’t always be on the water. Sometimes you’re stuck indoors.
That’s where this list of best fishing documentaries and movies comes in. When you’re in need of a fishing fix but can’t make it to the water, these flicks save the day. They’ll satisfy all your fishing cravings until you can cast your line or drop your net.
So, read on, fellow fishing fan, because we’ve gathered the top ten fishing movies and documentaries that you should watch, even if you’re stuck on land.
Everything you will learn here
- The Top 10 Fishing Movies and Documentaries
- 1. Low and Clear (2012)
- 2. The Complete Angler (2002) : It’s one of the Fishing movies better as the book
- 3. A River Runs Through It (1992)
- 4. Silver King: Birth of Big Game Fishing (2013)
- 5. Track the Tuna (2016)
- 6. Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene (2017)
- 7. Jaws (1975)
- 8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
- 9. The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
- 10. Una – The One: A Fly Fishing Documentary (2020)
- A Few Other Fishing Movies and Documentaries Worthy of Mention
- To reel the best fishing documentaries in
The Top 10 Fishing Movies and Documentaries
Not sure where to start? Here are the top ten fishing movies and documentaries that’ll hook you.
1. Low and Clear (2012)
There’s a hard to capture bond that exists between fishing buddies. Out on the water, few words are required, which can make exploring fishing friendships hard.
Low and Clear, a documentary by Tyler Hughen and Kahlil Hudson, manages to capture what few fishing stories have. The film follows two fishing friends that have gone their separate ways in the past but are now reuniting for one last fishing trip.
Hailed by many as one of the best fly fishing movies to ever exist, this is a must-see film on fishing and friendship.
2. The Complete Angler (2002) : It’s one of the Fishing movies better as the book
Don’t knock this made for TV movie based on a well-known but rarely read book of the same name. The book, written by Issac Walton, is a famous 17th-century classic. But it’s a little dense.
The movie makes Walton’s ideas more approachable. It follows the narrator, James Prosek, as he tries to live out the principles reflected in Walton’s book.
Prosek, a Yale student at the time, follows Issac Walton’s path from river to river in Ireland and England. As he does, he finds that Walton’s journey is less about fishing and more about life as a whole.
If you’re interested in a real-life tale that gets to the contemplative heart of what it means to be an angler, then you’re sure to love this documentary. Plus, at only an hour-long, it’s easy to find time to watch before your next fishing journey.
3. A River Runs Through It (1992)
Most people have seen this Robert Redford directed film starring Brad Pitt and may have even read the book it’s based on. But it’s a classic and always worth rewatching.
The movie features a tale of two brothers who grow up fly fishing with their minister father. As they grow, they go wildly separate ways but meet again as adults on the river they know so well.
It’s far more than a fishing movie; it’s a movie about family and brotherhood. It also won the Oscar for best cinematography in its day. The whole family is sure to love this one, even if fishing isn’t everyone’s thing.
4. Silver King: Birth of Big Game Fishing (2013)
This fascinating documentary examines a specific fish: the silver-scaled tarpon. This elusive and mysterious creature of the deep confounded fisherman for more than a century!
But in 1885, a man named William Wood reeled in a 93-pound Tarpon using only a bamboo rod. The achievement made international news, and big game fishing was born.
The film features rare, archived footage of actual big fish catches and spends time discussing where the big game fishing industry is today. If you’re a fisherman or fisherwoman who loves the thrill of big game fishing, this documentary is a must-see flick!
5. Track the Tuna (2016)
Available on YouTube, Track the Tuna follows the journey of one of the world’s most well-known fish. Tuna’s migration through the Mediterranean is an epic journey to see, and the history this documentary provides is fascinating.
It’s a little on the sad side, given the state of tuna today. But, the film quality is unbeatable, and it’s entirely free to watch. Plus, anglers are often the best advocates for fish, so it’s essential to stay on top of what’s going on.
6. Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene (2017)
If you’re into fly fishing, you may have heard of the Ozernaya River in Russia; a body of water left virtually untouched by the modern world. That’s what this film focuses on, and it’s a must for anyone who owns a fishing rod.
The documentary focuses on how fly-fishing can protect river systems, and the gorgeous footage of far east Russia is hard not to love.
7. Jaws (1975)
Scaring children off the beach and out of the sea since 1975, there’s no beating the Spielberg classic that is Jaws. Sure, it’s entirely fictional, and most anglers aren’t looking to reel in a Great White Shark. But there’s no denying the entertainment value in this fishing flick.
For those who haven’t seen it, the story follows a New England town’s struggles after a Great White Shark devours a young woman. It all comes down to the captain of a ship and an ichthyologist, who go out in hopes of catching and killing the giant fish.
Maybe it’s outdated and a little overplayed, but who doesn’t love when fishing saves the day?
8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Romantic comedies and fishing don’t seem like they go together, but “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” proves they can. Starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, this film follows a fisheries consultant sent to advise a sheik on how he might bring fly-fishing to the desert.
It’s relatively light-hearted, entertaining, and would make a good date night film. Sure, the fishing is almost secondary to the romantic plot, but it’s still a solid movie and worth a watch.
9. The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
It’s old, but it’s a classic for a reason. Based on Hemmingway’s exemplary novel about a seasoned fisherman dragged out to sea by his catch, this film captures the struggles of being obsessed with fish.
There’s a 1990’s made for TV version as well if you’d prefer a more modern update. But neither director messes with Hemingway’s classic story.
This is one that you absolutely must-see if you’ve never experienced it. It exemplifies man’s need to survive while questioning what success really is.
10. Una – The One: A Fly Fishing Documentary (2020)
In today’s world, pristine rivers are constantly under threat, as are the fish that populate them. This touching documentary by Jonas Borinksi looks at one such river in the Balkan region.
The Una is renowned for its healthy population of wild fish, but it’s also under threat. Hydro-dams are about to be built throughout the river system, which would destroy the fishing and hurt local fishers.
This film is exceptionally short, at under an hour, but it gets its point across. And, the footage of the Una River is more than worth a watch.
A Few Other Fishing Movies and Documentaries Worthy of Mention
In case you’re still not satisfied with the recommendations above, here are a few honorable mentions we think every angler will love.
- The Perfect Storm (2000): Part of fishing is learning to live in and with nature, even when she’s mad. There’s very little fishing in this movie, but the storm is incredibly epic.
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004): This dramedy by Wes Anderson is sure to entertain. It follows an oceanographer played by Bill Murray out to seek revenge on the Jaguar Shark that killed his partner.
- In the Heart of the Sea (2015): Based on a true story, this film covers the attack of a New England whaling ship by a giant whale. If you hadn’t already guessed, the event also inspired Moby Dick.
- Alamo Bay (1985): Though fishing is involved, this film is really about the relationship between a Vietnam vet and the Vietnamese immigrants in his hometown. It’s still a great movie, though, and worth watching if you get the chance.
- Grumpier Old Men (1995): This light-hearted and entertaining film follows two friends who try to save their local bait shop from becoming an Italian restaurant. Yes, it’s a sequel. But in rare form, it might be better than the first one.
- Kiss the Water (2014): Females in the fishing world still aren’t the most common occurrence. This documentary follows Megan Boyd, who excels at tying flies for fishing. It’s a fascinating look at a craftswoman inspired by her fish-filled local river.
We also have a list of some other related articles to zeal your passion of fishing:
To reel the best fishing documentaries in
Fishing is more than a hobby. It’s a lifestyle, a philosophy, and often an obsession. When you can’t get to the water, you might feel a little cabin fever.
A good fishing film should let you smell the salty air or dip your toe into the stream. It’ll raise your spirits until you can get back to what it is you really love: fishing!
Whether you want a documentary to inspire or a fishing film to make you laugh, there’s plenty to choose from on this list. So pick a flick and grab the popcorn. It may not be as great as getting out on the lake, but a fishing movie or documentary is likely the next best thing.
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