Casting Away Anxiety: How Bass Fishing Became My Therapy

Discover how bass fishing transformed from a teenage hobby into a powerful tool for managing anxiety and finding inner peace.

My interest in bass fishing began as a hobby as a teenager, but back then, I didn’t quite understand the mental health aspect of being outdoors and fishing. Now, as an adult with diagnosed anxiety, I not only fish for the thrill of it but also for my mental health. Fishing requires a lot of awareness and focus, which takes my mind off everyday struggles and stress. When I’m focused on fishing, my mind takes a break. Gear isn’t cheap, so I call it my expensive form of therapy!

When my only child grew up and went to college, I began to feel as if my time as a mom was ending. I’ve heard the term “empty nester,” and I can relate to the feelings of not being useful anymore. Fishing became my escape from dwelling on what it felt like to have my chickadee fly the coop. I’d leave work with my gear loaded and hit the banks for a few hours every day. I became immersed in bass fishing to keep my mind off of this big life change. I learned as much as I could through social media and my father-in-law’s hand-me-down Bassmaster magazines! If I’m not fishing, I’m constantly learning and seeing what’s new out there in terms of lures and gear.

Everything from planning where to launch the boat, what to pack, what to throw, where to throw, etc., is therapeutic to me. That feeling of starting the boat and making my way to a spot is magic. But putting all the plans into fruition and successfully catching a bass—that’s what makes all my troubles go away. We’re all in this rat race, and I believe if you get too caught up in it, your body and mind can start to pay the price. Everybody needs to regroup and recharge. That saying of putting your oxygen mask on first before someone else applies to mental health. Nature is the oxygen mask, and we all need to put ours on.

Just stopping to look around in nature while fishing has amazing effects. It’s healing to be out there exploring and seeing new things. There’s enough wildlife and things to discover here in Florida; each trip is an adventure. I’ve seen so many cool things I normally wouldn’t know about if I didn’t fish. I’ve seen manatees and a manatee calf swimming together, a curious gator that swam right up to my boat, and a huge troop of rhesus monkeys that jumped from tree to tree across the Silver River. With all these close encounters with wildlife, I have a sense of how important these animals are. I’ve come to respect nature more, and I can hopefully shed light on why we need to preserve it. Being out in nature makes me feel small and makes me realize my problems are sometimes insignificant. Nature shrinks my ego and quite often puts me in my place.

Being outdoors and crossing paths with other fishermen helps with my anxiety because I have much more confidence talking to someone with the same interests as me compared to complete strangers. I get super excited when I see other women out fishing. Sharing a male-dominated hobby with other women is something special. I’ve come across super nice lady anglers on social media. We all have something in common, and sharing that with others and learning from fellow ladies is really awesome.

Start small and get a cheap rod and reel. Take a friend or go alone. Get out there and try. Read up on fishing tips and learn about the sport. Watching YouTube fishing channels has taught me a lot. There’s something for everyone on there. I learned how to use a baitcaster and tie knots by watching fishing channels. There’s a large community of teachers out there that pass on fishing tips. Dive in.

You can follow Amy on Instagram: @reely_rod