18 Best Fishing Movies & Documentaries You Must Watch

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Article Categories: Fishing
Article Tags: Movie

If you’re the type of person who loves fishing, then it’s likely that you’ll enjoy movies about fishing. We know that watching fishing isn’t the same thing as actually going fishing, but sometimes you can’t be out on the water. For quiet nights at home, or for whenever the weather’s just too rough, any one of our selections will make your downtime that much more fun. Our list has eighteen of the best fly fishing movies, fishing documentaries, and fishing movies of all time listed here for you, as well as where to watch them.

Movies By Category:
Documentaries | Fly Fishing | Dramas | Movies By Streaming Service

 

Best Fishing Documentaries

These films feature true stories of fisherman and fishing. Some of them have a modern focus; others take a look at history. All of them can teach you something and are highly entertaining.

 

1. The Complete Angler

In the 17th century, English writer Izaak Walton wrote The Complete Angler, one of the most important books in the history of fishing. People have fished for as long as we’ve existed, but it wasn’t until Walton that much was written down about how people fished. This documentary traces his footsteps through England and the early days of formalized fishing.

  • Release: 2003
  • Watch Time: 46 minutes
  • Where to Watch: Vimeo

 

 

2. Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene

Fishing for salmon in the Ozernaya River attracts two kinds of people: those who want to protect, and those who want to exploit. The Ozernaya is one of the most intact ecosystems left in the Northern Pacific. Salmon run in the thousands, and rampant salmon poaching is big business. But once the salmon are gone, the entire ecosystem collapses. Fly Fishing in the Anthropocene explores how fly fishing can help protect the wilderness and celebrates the beauty and wonder of one of the most vibrant places on earth.

  • Release: 2017
  • Watch Time: 20 minutes
  • Where to Watch: Youtube

 

3. Low and Clear

Low and Clear is a documentary about the power of fishing and friendship. It follows two formerly close friends as they attempt to reconnect during one last fishing trip. It features gorgeous landscapes and beautifully elegizes the taming of the American West.

 

4. Silver King: The Birth of Big-Game Fishing

Silver King: The Birth of Big Game Fishing highlights the history of one of the most famous game fish in the world, the tarpon. On April 18, 1885, fisherman William H. Wood reeled in a 93-pound tarpon off Florida’s Sanibel Island with only a bamboo rod and mullet for bait. As word spread of Wood’s feat, the promise of catching this trophy fish lured anglers from around the world, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

Since then, the species has captured the hearts and minds of nearly every angler who’s had the pleasure of pursuing them. Rare, archival film clips of early tarpon anglers, vintage film from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s and dramatic modern footage combine to highlight the story behind the birth of big-game fishing and the conservation efforts in place now to protect this ancient species.

  • Release: 2012
  • Watch Time: 56 minutes
  • Where to Watch: Youtube

 

5. The Track Of The Tuna

The Track of the Tuna explores the remaining tuna population as they migrate from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean from April to June in order to spawn. Prized as the most sought-after fish in the world, tuna fish have been fished for over 4000 years by fishermen around the world. During antiquity they were hailed as the “manna of the oceans,” but the industrial fishing industry became a major market during the 20th century. This documentary explores the ecosystems in which these fish travel, as well as the threats to their populations and the conservation methods put in place to protect them.

 

Best Fly Fishing Movies

These movies specifically feature the art of fly fishing. Some of them are true stories; others are fictional. What they all share is a love for fly fishing. These films highlight the grace and art behind the sport and have inspired many a fly fisher to get out on the water.

 

6. A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It is one of the most renowned and popular fly fishing movies of all time. This is a stirring tale of two brothers and the complex relationship they share with their minister father who treats the artful sport of fly fishing as both metaphor and meeting ground. The river unites the three men, making it possible for them to overcome their differences and love one another. The film is based on Norman McClean’s semi-autobiographical novella, and the complex story of love and fishing will resonate with everyone.

 

7. Chalk: Bedrock of Fly Fishing

Chalk is a feature-length film about the past, present, and future of the chalk streams of England. These streams shaped the sport of fly fishing, and many of the techniques still used today were developed for fishing these waters. It is an examination of why the English chalk streams are so important to the development of fly fishing and heavily features their unique geology and biology.

From the plant life in the streams to the legendary mayfly hatches, these streams are like none other, and this film explores why that is. The film also introduces many of the people from the past and present who care for and fish on these rivers, as well as protect them from the threats and challenges faced by these fragile environments.

 

8. Only The River Knows

This film takes place by the legendary Lethe River on New Zealand’s wild and wondrous South Island. Back in 1988, fly fishing icon Lars Lenth spent three months exploring the fabled river and fishing for its abnormally large trout. Nearly 25 years later, fly fisher Rolf Nylinder finds Lenth’s journal, full of insights on fishing the river and on the very soul of fly fishing as a sport. This film reconstructs Lenth’s journal and captures the spectacular environment of New Zealand’s backcountry.

 

9. Providence

Providence is a saltwater fly fishing adventure to the famed Providence Atoll in the Seychelles. These waters were closed for several years due to the threat of Somali pirates, so when they were reopened in 2015, the local fish populations were teeming and thriving. This movie captures the fight against several hard-fighting flats pieces, like the giant trevally, barracuda, bluefin trevally, bonefish, triggerfish, milkfish, bumphead parrotfish, and others. This is a fantastic film and story filmed at one of the best destinations you could find, and if you’re interested in saltwater fly fishing, it’s a must-see.

 

10. Rise

Confluence Films’ 2009 production Rise is a follow-up to their equally great 2008 film Drift. But we put Rise on the list because the fly fishing action is even more exciting and the locations are even more important to the life of the sport. The film starts in Florida and features tarpon action, then heads to Patagonia for rainbow and brown trout.

Up next is Louisiana to see how the redfish fishery has changed since Hurricane Katrina, and then it’s off to the Snake River and dry fly fishing. Then the film looks at the bonefish flats in Venezuela, and then finally heads to Alaska to look at Ray Peterson’s fly lodge– the very first one in operation, and the one that set the standard for fishing lodges today. It’s a whirlwind adventure that will have you itching to travel.

 

11. Where The Yellowstone Goes

The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the continental United States. This film follows a 30-day drift boat journey down the river and all that is encountered along the way. It provides intimate portraits of locals in both booming cities and dusty, dwindling towns along the Yellowstone River. It illustrates the history and controversies surrounding this enigmatic waterway and asks important questions about its future.

 

Narrative Dramas

When you want to watch a movie with fishing in it that isn’t strictly about fishing, one of these dramas might be just what you want.

 

12. Alamo Bay

Alamo Bay is a drama about the complexities of life and the stresses that come with a career in the volatile field of commercial fishing. Embittered Vietnam veteran Shang feels like he is at war with the Vietnamese immigrants who recently moved into his hometown of Alamo Bay. He sees their presence as a threat to his Gulf Coast livelihood, shrimp fishing, especially after his boat is repossessed. But the immigrants face threats of their own through the town’s xenophobia, and the movie explores just how these tensions mirror each other for both Shang and the immigrants.

 

13. Gone Fishin’

A lighthearted, slapstick comedy that features Danny Glover and Joe Pesci as accident-prone fishermen, Gone Fishin’ is the story of a fishing trip gone impossibly wrong. From con men to stolen cars to trailer park fires, there’s nothing that can’t get in the way of our heroes’ finally getting to fish. The film is set in the Florida Everglades, so expect beautiful scenery shots amidst all the chaos and mayhem.

 

14. Grumpy Old Men

This classic buddy comedy is the story of two neighbors who have spent fifty years “fighting over nothing.” They spend their time ice fishing, bickering, and playing pranks on each other. But their crotchety routine is interrupted by a woman, and the comedy ensues as both try to woo her amidst the backdrop of their own struggles.

 

15. Jaws

Possibly the most famous fish story of all time, Jaws is the story of a relentless shark, a small-town sheriff, and one of the best fishermen of all time. It’s also got one of the most explosive fishing sequences ever put to film. Jaws is something of a bittersweet story for sharks, as its release is responsible for a lot of misunderstandings about these incredible fish– but as a movie, it’s incredibly fun to watch. Just don’t try any of the shark fishing techniques at home! (You can always binge watch Jaws, Jaws 2, and Jaws 3 as well.)

 

16. On Golden Pond

On Golden Pond is a story about the power of fishing to make human connections. This is a movie about fractured relationships and how they can be mended through effort and togetherness. In this movie, an aging man named Norman and his wife agree to take care of their daughter’s boyfriend’s son for a while as the two have some time alone together. While the boy is frustrated at first, being isolated on a lake without anyone his age, he and Norman bond over their fishing trips.

As the movie progresses, the bond between the old man and the boy deepens and strengthens, as does their love for fishing on the beautiful Golden Pond. It’s a touching story about how unlikely friendships can form over shared activities.

 

17. Ondine

In this modern-day fairytale, a struggling fisherman rescues a young woman at sea who may be much more than what she seems. She seems to bring great luck and fishing success and charms the fisherman and his young daughter, but their happiness may be short-lived. Romantic and haunting, any more information would spoil this beautiful film.

 

18. The Perfect Storm

Based on the true story of the sinking of the Andrea Gail, this epic disaster film tells of the courageous men and women who risk their lives every working day, pitting their fishing boats and rescue vessels against the capricious and often deadly forces of nature. Their worst fears are realized at sea on Halloween of 1991 when they are confronted by three raging weather fronts which unexpectedly collide to produce “the perfect storm,” an event that had never been seen in recorded history.

 

Movies By Streaming Service

 

Amazon Prime

 

HBO Max

 

Hulu

 

Netflix

 

Other

Youtube, Vimeo, and other sites often host documentaries. We also want to give a special shoutout to FishingTV, which is a streaming service that hosts only fishing movies and documentaries. Many of the films on this list can be found there.

 

Fishing TV

 

Reelhouse

 

Vimeo

 

Youtube

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about