The Best Fishing Movies of All Time

On Sunday night, the stars of Hollywood will be out in full force at the biggest awards show of the year - the Academy Awards. Unquestionably one of the biggest spectacles in the entertainment industry, the Oscars recognize the best films of the year, and in past years, films that focus on fishing in one way or another, have often been nominated for various awards.


However, not every major film about fishing has been nominated for an Academy Award, and there might be a few you don’t know about. So, without further ado, WFN is pleased to present our list of the best fishing movies out there.

A River Runs Through It

This beautifully shot film was nominated for three Academy Awards – best cinematography, best original score, and best adapted screenplay. While it only took home one award (best cinematography), it has cemented its status as one of the finest fishing films ever committed to celluloid. And it may be one of the only movies out there that features fly fishing as an integral part of the plot.

Based on the novella of the same name, A River Runs Through it follows the lives of a minister’s two sons in the first half of the 20th century. Fly fishing is used as a metaphor for religion, love, and life in general: at one point, the character of Norman, played by Robert Redford, states “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”


The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway’’s classic tale has been adapted a couple of times, including a TV mini-series, but it’s the 1958 film adaptation that is widely considered to be a classic. Spencer Tracy gives a towering performance as the old Cuban fisherman who, after being unable to catch anything for 84 days, finally hooks into a gigantic marlin that drags him further and further out to sea. As he battles the massive fish, the old man reminisces about his life, all while trying to land the marlin and fighting off aggressive sharks.

The film was nominated for three Oscars – best cinematography, best actor (for Tracy’s performance), and best music, which it ultimately won.

Grumpy Old Men


It may not have been nominated for any Academy Awards, but this 1993 comedy has become something of a cult classic. And it’’s not difficult to see why – it’s a fairly uproarious film that just happens to be about ice fishing (more or less). It also features Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau, two of the finest comedic actors of their generation, and a duo that share almost unparalleled chemistry.

Lemmon and Mathau play John Gustafson and Max Goldman, two lifelong neighbours who also share a lifelong rivalry that becomes re-energized when they both fall for their new female neighbour. The cantankerous banter between the two is truly hilarious, and the ice fishing scenes, while not exactly central to the plot, are plentiful.

Grumpier Old Men

This is the sequel to Grumpy Old Men, if you couldn’’t tell by the almost-identical title. This time around, the focus isn’’t on ice fishing, but on the attempt by Gustafson and Goldman to land the fabled “Catfish Hunter,” a massive catfish that tauntingly smiles at anglers who try to land it. Yeah, it’s not very realistic, but it’s an amusing film that features some good jokes, and also some surprisingly touching moments.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This is the most recent film on the list – it received a wide release in March of 2012, and while it didn’’t receive any Oscar nominations, it deserves a mention due to its level of critical acclaim. And, of course, for the fact that it’s a film about fly fishing!

Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, the film focuses on a fisheries expert who is hired to oversee a very unorthodox project – a wealthy Yemeni sheikh wants to bring salmon fishing to the Middle Eastern country. While the film is slightly slow, the cinematography is gorgeous, and there is a heart-warming romance at the film’s core.

The Perfect Storm

Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat, in that it focuses on commercial fishing as opposed to recreational. However, it’s included on this list because, overall, it’s a pretty awesome little action movie that’s based on a remarkable true story.

In 1991, a commercial swordfishing boat called the Andrea Gail was lost at sea during a “Perfect Storm” – essentially, an unprecedented combination of two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane. The ship went down with all hands, and this film attempts to show a glimpse at the crew in the days leading up the sinking. It’s a bit corny at times, but definitely worth a watch.

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