Fishing over fifty: Why should we go fishing at our age?

Illustration: 2024 Michigan Fishing Regulations booklet, Department of Natural Resources

For we Baby Boomers, fishing is a good thing to do, or to put it another way: “It’s good for you.” According to an article in Health Direct, older people are prone to depression, the principle reasons being poor physical health, social isolation, and we lose, and have lost loved ones. The National Institute on Aging isn’t so quick to agree. The institute says depression is a common problem among older adults, but clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. In fact, studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems than younger people. Are we depressed or not?

If we’re depressed, Elite Home Health Care says we Baby Boomers suffering from depression should go fishing.

“Oftentimes, seniors are at risk for depression,” says Elite. “Having something to look forward to, such as a hobby like fishing, helps to keep them feeling more hopeful and happy.”

There is no shortage of webpages on the internet that all say the same thing: “For older people, fishing reduces stress, it’s great for socialization, there’s a low risk of falling, it even makes us smarter:

“Keeping our minds active is the key to maintaining cognitive ability,” says the Elite website. “Cognition helps to build connections in the brain that help form an understanding of thoughts and knowledge. Fishing is a sport that can assist in building those positive connections. Each step from planning the fishing trip, to the adventure along the way, is a valuable piece of the process.”

The first step in the planning process is to get your state fishing license. A license is required to fish. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website says a license is required when targeting fish, amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles. Michigan’s annual fishing license is valid from March 1 of a given year through March 31 of the following year.

An annual all species (resident) license fee is $26, and you can use it for trout and nontrout species. For seniors, 65 years and older, the license fee is only $11. You can purchase a license at almost any local convenience store or from any sporting goods store. When you purchase your license, make sure to request a copy of the 2024 Michigan Fishing Regulations booklet. It is also available online.

Everything you need to know is included in the booklet, including a full-color chart of the fish people who most often catch, to help you identify whatever winds up dangling from your hook.

Most waters in the Western U.P. are very diverse and are home to multiple species, so fishing is kind of a lottery: You might win, but you’re not immediately sure what your prize is. Years ago, I was fishing Lake Gerald, at Twin Lakes. I was fishing for Bluegill and caught a Brook trout. While fishing for smallmouth bass, I’ve caught a Pike. This is why I’ve always fished with heavier-duty equipment than is recommended for small fish like Bluegill or Crappie. That brings us to our next step in the planning process: Deciding what you want to fish for.

• • • •

The second step in the planning process is deciding what to fish for. This, to some extent, will help you to determine where you will fish. If you want to fish for Walleye, for example, a stream is not the ideal water body. Deciding what you want to fish for will also determine which fishing gear to shop for. Your physical health will also help you determine what you want to fish for.

For example, if you have arthritic joints in, say, your wrists, elbows and shoulders, you probably want to avoid heavier types of fish like Lake trout or Whitefish. Larger bass, Walleye and Pike can also get pretty large, but a lot has to do with how much “fight” a fish will give you when it’s hooked. A pike, for instance, requires a fair amount of joint health, because they reel in like a boot full of water — until they are reeled to the surface. At that point, it has been my experience at least, that once they are at the surface, they will put up an incredible fight. Small fish, what are called “panfish,” will also provide a filling fight, but because they are smaller, they are not so much of a strain on your joints.

Panfish examples are Bluegill, Crappie, Pumpkinseed, Rock bass, and the like. They are included in the Regulations booklet to help identify what panfish you catch. Don’t underestimate these small fish.

They are a scrappy fighter while reeling them in, and although they are small, they are delicious if you are fishing to eat to your catch, rather than release them.

So far, we’ve talked about why we would want to go fishing at our age and the first two steps of the planning process of getting back to fishing, or approaching it for the first time: purchasing a license and deciding what to fish for.

Next week, we talk about where to fish for what species and the gear and tackle for them.

*The 2024 Michigan Fishing Regulations booklet can be viewed online at https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/-/media/Project/Websites/dnr/Documents/LED/digests/2024_fishing_guide.pdf?rev=49da29dcbc97409aafc8427f19fc0943


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today