I meet with business owners both locally and internationally and share what I learn to help readers generate more income.
How to Make Money From Fishing
It's said that if you do what you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. There's a lot of truth in that, but how many of us can say that what we do to earn a living is something we truly enjoy? It's too easy to get caught on the treadmill of life, and once on it, it's difficult to stop, because there are bills that need paying and family who need feeding.
But what if there was a way? The idea for this article came to me when I was standing by our lake fishing. I was thinking if it would be possible for a person who loved fishing to make a living from it, and guess what: There are people already doing it.
11 Fishing Business Ideas
- Run a Deep Sea Sports Fishing Business
- Make Fishing Lures for Profit
- Become a Bass Fishing Guide
- Enter Contests and Competitions
- Breed Fish Like Tilapia
- Breed Tropical Fish for Aquariums
- Breed and Sell Bait
- Start a Fish and Pay or Catch and Release Business
- Run a Fishing YouTube Channel
- Clear Fish From Lakes
- Become a Fishing Teacher or Public Speaker
Some of the ideas I've listed require an investment, but others are virtually free to begin implementing. Let's take an in-depth look at these options for people who would rather be baiting a hook than dealing with a boss and an always-full inbox.
1. Start a Deep Sea Sports Fishing Business
- What Is It?: Deep sea fishing is the most exciting fishing sport. Whether you're fishing for marlin, swordfish, or tuna, the thrill is long and hard, and it creates memories that last a lifetime. The screeching of the reel as the fish begins to pull, the feel of the strap holding them into the chair, and you shouting encouraging words: These are the things your customer is going to remember.
- How Do I Begin?: To make money from this, you'll either need to own a boat or charter one to use, taking paying customers on their deep sea fishing adventure. You will also need specialist knowledge of the most likely places to catch the big ones. A fish finder will also help with this. The boat will need to have all the necessary documentation, insurance, and safety equipment on board. If you're not qualified to skipper a boat with paying passengers, there will be people you can hire who hold the correct qualifications. This, of course, will eat into your profits, so it's best to become qualified yourself if this is going to become a full-time occupation. Your local marina will be able to give you details of classes in your area.
2. Tie Fishing Flies for Profit
- What Is It?: I am amazed at some of the artificial flies I've seen. If you can tie flies which can lure a trout, then you should consider doing this. Fishermen are always looking for 'that edge' that will bag them the big one. The advantage of this type of business is the startup cost is low.
- How Do I Begin?: Using tools such as a vise, scissors, and pliers, you can make various flies with hackle feathers and elk or deer hair. These are all easy to purchase online and will get you started in what could become a profitable and enjoyable venture. Places to sell would be either in bait and tackle stores, online through your own website, or sites such as eBay and Etsy.
3. Become a Bass Fishing Guide
- What Is It?: Do you know the secret spots where bass hide out? Can you act as a guide for those wishing to go after them? This can be either in your boat or one that is rented. People on vacation may not know the lake and will gladly pay someone like you to take them out. If they are on a tight schedule and only have a week's vacation, they don't want to spend it searching for fish—they want to catch them!
- How Do I Begin?: Promote yourself on your website, or in forums discussing the lake you know. It only takes a few people to use your services before word-of-mouth advertising kicks in and you have yourself an enjoyable part-time business. Beginning this type of business will require the time it takes to set up a website, write blog articles, and post in the forums. Ask your satisfied clients to leave a review on your site (ideally with pictures). Also encourage them to share across social media channels.
4. Enter Fishing Contests and Competitions
- What Is It?: If you are the competitive type, consider entering fishing contests. Many of these will offer cash prizes or sporting goods, which are always useful. The winner is determined by the largest fish caught or by the weight of the total catch of the day.
- How Do I Begin?: Check local news and sporting shops in your area—and also online. National competitions will offer the biggest prize pool, but you will need to factor in traveling costs.
5. Breed Fish for Farmers
- What Is It?: When we were farming tilapia, we bought our fish fry when they were 30–50 grams. The company did nothing else other than supply young tilapia. In fact, we know one fish farmer who changed from farming tilapia to breeding, as it was more profitable and involved less hassle. The outlay for food is much less as is the need for space. Fish theft is unlikely to occur as thieves only want adult fish.
- How Do I Begin?: The requirements are tanks which are aerated and have fresh water circulating. Tilapia are quite robust and can withstand a wide range of temperatures but thrive best in 72–90°F. Depending on the number required, these can be sold in plastic bags filled with air, or as we had, delivered by truck with tanks filled with compressed air. When done this way, extra fish are given as there is an expected 10% mortality rate.
6. Breed Tropical Fish for Aquariums
- What Is It?: As with breeding for fish farmers, there is money to be made from breeding aquarium fish or fish for ponds. These could be anything from guppies to goldfish to koi carp.
- How Do I Begin?: Sell to pet shops or find customers by using local advertising. Multiple aquariums with air are what you'd need to start this business. These can be sourced secondhand from places like Craigslist, garage sales, friends and family, or your local paper.
7. Breed and Sell Bait
- What Is It?: Angling is one of—if not the—most popular pastimes, and all of those fishermen need bait. Consider breeding and selling it. These can include worms, maggots, and crickets. You can sell them directly to anglers or to bait shops.
- How Do I Begin?: The startup costs will be next to nothing as breeding stock can be sourced from the local environment. Styrofoam or plastic containers are excellent for the worms or maggots. For crickets, I have purchased them in small cages that were refilled at the bait shop each time.
8. Offer Your Property for Fish and Pay or Catch and Release
- What Is It and How Do I Begin?: If you have lakes on your property, consider stocking them. You could use your property as a leisure area where people fish—if they catch anything, they pay a set price depending on the weight. There is another option in which people come to fish in the ponds and pay either for the day or a yearly membership. This is very popular in the UK and is strictly catch and release. Mostly this is for carp, and many people will camp overnight as well.
9. Post Fishing Videos on YouTube
- What Is It?: If you have a likable personality and are passionate about fishing, you could do very well making videos about fishing. I've watched these on YouTube, and some are better than others. If you can give advice to other anglers about what works for you and keep it entertaining, you should consider this as a way of making money from fishing.
- How Do I Begin?: Start with getting an account on YouTube and begin uploading videos. By having ads on the video (YouTube does this for you), you could earn money. It's also a great way to advertise your services as a local fishing guide.
10. Clear Fish From Lakes
- What Is It?: If a lake has too many predators such as pike, these will need to be cleared. Sometimes they can decimate the numbers of other fish in the lake which will affect the number of fishermen who go there. This, in turn, affects the small businesses such as guesthouses, restaurants, and sports and tackle shops in the vicinity. In essence, if the lake is the main pull of tourists to an area, too many predators in a lake can kill the community. This is why a decision would have to be taken to net the lake to remove these fish. It is estimated that clearing the lake can never remove all the unwanted fish. In my research, I have read 30% of the fish could still remain, so there will always be a need for this service.
- How Do I Begin?: The items needed will depend on the size and depth of the lake: nets, manpower, and possibly a boat, if it is a large lake. If you live in an area with several lakes, you could earn well.
11. Become a Teacher or Public Speaker
- What Is It?: When anglers aren't fishing, their favorite pastime is talking about fishing. There are many people who love to listen to stories about fishing adventures or instructions on how to perfect their technique. As with the YouTube videos, if you have a positive and outgoing personality, consider public speaking around the topic of fishing and you could earn extra cash.
- How Do I Begin?: There are many places who are looking for public speakers, and once you get known as an entertaining and enjoyable one, you will be booked frequently. Whether you opt to show slides or videos to enliven your presentation or teach a class how to tie fishing flies, you can gear your topic to your audience. It isn't just adults who will benefit from your knowledge: Offer talks with kids about the fine art of fishing. You might hold a class on the correct way to tie on a hook and weights or explain the importance of checking your equipment. Just imagine how much fun could be had with a dozen or so kids casting trying to hit a bucket as a target. Parents are always looking for new ideas to keep their kids occupied, especially during school vacations.
More Ways to Use Fish
Although the above ideas are about catching fish or selling your services to make money from fishing, there are still more ways to make use of them. Let's now take a look at these options.
Smoking and Drying Fish (For the Garden and More)
For conserving and consuming later, or to sell as dried fish. In many parts of the world drying fish is commonplace.
There is another use which we do here on our farm when we net and have a glut of fish. We dry the small ones in the sun and use them in the garden. Fish meal is an excellent source of nutrients for the plants. I put our dried fish in my food processor with the chopping blade. This we put around our coconut trees and in our vegetable patch. Many nurseries sell this but it is easy to make your own.
Using Fish as Pet Food
I feed fish to both my cat and dogs. When I catch small piaba, or oscars, I feed these to the animals. They are a rich source of protein. If the fish is a little larger but not big enough for us to eat, I give it to the cat.
These can easily be frozen and kept for later, although I will give live fish to the animals if they are around at the time of fishing.
Best of Luck as You Begin Fishing for Money
I hope these ways of making money from fishing have sparked an interest and given you some ideas of your own to get you started. Whether you choose to do this as a full-time occupation or simply to earn some extra money doing something you enjoy, there are avenues open to you.
Good luck, and here's hoping the big one doesn't get away.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Who do I contact to find out what lakes need clearing?
Answer: It would be if you feel there is a problem. For example, do you have too many predators? If the number of fish you are catching has been reduced, this could be one of the reasons.
Another could be a build-up of algae which could reduce the availability of oxygen in the water.
There may be other plants that need to be removed, for example, water hyacinth.
If you have a local environmental agency, start there. You don't want to go to the hassle or expense of clearing a lake if you don't need to.
Question: Is it true that you can send your fishing pictures to fishing magazines and get paid for it?
Answer: I would suggest you go to the specific magazine and see what they offer. The problem is, that most people are so proud and want to share their pictures or give it away. The magazines of course aren't going to refuse images that they think are high quality and free.
Question: Where can you sell fish such as catfish?
Answer: Depending on where you live there may be more restrictions than in other places. Where I live, fish are sold from the back of a motorcycle. The man buys them from the fishermen and has a Styrofoam box on the back of a motorcycle. He will sell to small shops and also to homes.
You could also go to restaurants and see if they will buy. Don't attempt anything that is a chain of restaurants, just individually owned and operated.
Question: What is the income from fishing?
Answer: That would depend what type of fishing activity you were doing. It is also very much dependent on your location, time you can devote to it and customers who will use your service or buy your product.
© 2016 Mary Wickison
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 15, 2020:
Given your location, you sound ideally place for such a venture. Plus with an interest in worms you'll do well.
talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on March 15, 2020:
As someone very interested in vermicomposting, I'm seriously considering #7. I love this article - I live in FL, near the beaches and docks, and this is very helpful!
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 29, 2019:
You've touched on a very important point. Often we think to start a business takes a lot of money and knowledge. There are ways to begin small and increase money and experience as you go. The key is to fill a need that people are willing to pay for.
Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for your comment.
maria on August 28, 2019:
Great ideas, I think we need to look at the simple ways often to generate money. and this is very helpful to us .and all the pictures are very beautiful.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on February 06, 2017:
I think we need to look at the simple ways often to generate money. As they say, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and you kill a great business opportunity.
diogenes on February 06, 2017:
...interesting...then there's Phishing!?
Kevin on February 06, 2017:
Deb Hirt on September 25, 2016:
Great ideas! Never did I dream that there was so much that one could do to receive income related a body of water.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 12, 2016:
Yes, the same happens here in Brazil where I live. The fishermen haul their boats up and people are gathered around to buy what they have caught. I have also had people who have small motorcycles with cool boxes on the back come to our house selling fish.
Once when I was traveling, I saw a man with fish hanging from the handlebars of his bike selling them door to door. Darn that I didn't have a camera with me.
Anything is possible with a little creative thinking.
Thanks for reading and have a great week.
Dianna Mendez on September 09, 2016:
It is good to know that fishing can be profitable. Living by the ocean, there are people here who do fish quite often for this reason. Wow, that monster fish video is scary! I don't think I could even reel that one in!
diogenes from UK and Mexico on September 06, 2016:
Hi...that's Phishing, Buildreps!
I used to love mainly sea fishing, Mary, but I find I cannot stand to take the lives of the beautiful creatures who live in the oceans any more. I'm a hypocrite, because I still buy fish to eat and hardly eat red meat these days. We are all hypocrites I suppose as we consume animal protein and put out of our minds the torture and despair these wonderful, peaceful creatures suffer on the roads and in the slaughter houses. My small ambition at the moment is to acquire a small farm and keep a cow, sheep, pigs and chickens and let them die natural deaths as they were all supposed to...I suppose it will remain a dream...
Interesting article though not for me
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on September 06, 2016:
When I was about 12, I went deep sea fishing as part of a family reunion. There was a friendly competition on the boat and everyone put in a dollar as a prize pool. Well that day was rather choppy and many of the other fishermen were feeling queasy. I just took a wider stamce and kept fishing. When it was time to weigh the fish, one of mine was the biggest. I had won $32, and after that, you could say.....I was hooked! LOL
You should go out, some of the best places are on your doorstep.
Thanks for reading today.
Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on September 06, 2016:
You have some good ideas, Mary. My son and grandson love to fish.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 06, 2016:
Quite an original topic, I think, and great suggestions. I would pay to get on an excursion fishing boat and pay a the price includes the loan of fishing gear to use. Did it once and have been longing to do it again.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 06, 2016:
This is one of those articles that has the potential to have a lot of views. There are a lot of fishermen out there, so it will be interesting to see how this content article does. Well done, Mary!
Buildreps from Europe on September 06, 2016:
Oh, when I saw the title in my e-mail, I thought you meant how to make money from internet fishing! :) LOL
Well crafted, interesting article, Mary.