5 Real Ways to Make Money While Fishing

A great day of fishing is hard to beat; beautiful scenery, perfect weather conditions and lots of fishing action.  But what if you could make money bringing home that stringer full of fish and the only requirements were simple changes that every average angler could make? 

I believe that would turn your great day into an unforgettable one.  

Professional fishermen are not the only people who have opportunities to make money while fishing.  There are several easy, creative and fun ways to bring home fish and a little money on the side.  This post discusses five real ways for any angler to make their fishing hobby more lucrative.  

Derbies, Tournaments, and Contests 

Numerous states have fishery departments that host annual fishing derbies. There, you will be able to search for annual fishing derbies/competitions and their prospective dates and details.  

For example, Washington State hosts its annual Trout Fishing Derby from the end of April thru October.  The exact dates are released in the new regulations each year.  Over 100 different lakes are stocked with tagged rainbow trout and once caught, can be turned in for prizes, including fishing gear and some serious cash. 

A list and map of all participating lakes can be found here at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  

There are many other fishing derbies that target different species too, such as walleye, bass and salmon.  Try checking your local fishing and outdoor stores for contests.  

Youth-only derbies are very common and can be found through your local fishing regulation website.  

For a larger collection of fun, the American Fishing Contests website lists numerous up-to-date opportunities for those interested in competing with their fellow anglers across the country.  Some contests require entrance fees, others are completely free.   

The only modification required for this money making opportunity is to fish during the derby season at a participating location!  Every angler should take advantage of these types of programs.  

You get to fish how you normally would but with a chance to make some money or win awesome fishing gear.  There is no limit to the number of tournaments you can enter, so keep on fishing!  

Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program

If you live in Washington, Oregon or Idaho, you have a splendid fishing opportunity that has the potential to replace your day job.  “Catch Cash Save Salmon” is the moto for the northern pikeminnow sport-reward program.

This conservation fishing program was initiated in 2000 to help curb, but not extinguish, the pikeminnow population in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  Pikeminnow prey on millions of steelhead and salmon smolt every year.  Decreasing their overpopulated predators helps the young salmon smolt reach the ocean where they grow into adulthood.

Running May 1 thru September 30, anglers that catch pikeminnow 9 inches or longer are paid per fish.  The value per fish increases the more you catch each day.  Catch 1 – 25 fish and receive $5 each, 26 – 200 pays $6 per fish and 200+ gets you $8 each. 

There are also specially tagged pikeminnow that are worth $500!  The more you fish, the more money you make.  Serious fishermen also buy the two-pole endorsement to increase their catch rate.

The top 20 anglers’ stats are posted on the pikeminnow.org website each year.  In 2016, the number one angler caught 14,019 pikeminnow and earned $119,341.  Not bad for 5 months of fishing.

To participate, you must register at one of the 19 designated stations located along the Columbia and Snake River each morning.  Each evening, return to the same station to turn in your catch and receive a voucher before it closes. 

Vouchers can be turned in right away or saved and mailed all together no later than 30 days after the season closes.  Vouchers received after November 15 will be void. 

The fishery department studies the pikeminnow; therefore, they must be alive or fresh when turned in.  Make sure you bring a large enough cooler with plenty of ice or a live-fish storage system. 

According to the regulations, “fish must have been caught in the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth up to the restricted zone below Priest Rapids Dam, or in the Snake River from the mouth up to the restricted zone below Hells Canyon Dam. The “mainstem” includes backwaters, sloughs, and up tributaries 400 feet from the tributary mouths. “Tributary mouth” is as defined by state fishing regulations.”

Catching pikeminnow is relatively easy.  The hard part is fishing on such a huge body of water.  Most people will utilize some sort of boat.  If you don’t have the space or money to buy a motorboat, check out why we prefer using kayaks (7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Kayak for Fishing).

Lure selection is almost limitless and most that can be fished near the bottom will work.  Crank baits are very popular, especially in blue, green or black colors. 

Other anglers prefer bait and sinker setups.  Worms are the most popular, along with chicken liver, salmon eggs, shrimp and even strong smelling cheese.  To keep your worm supply always at the ready, make sure to read our post on how to catch nightcrawlers.  

Experimentation is a must.  Something that works one day may not entice them the next.  If you haven’t had even so much as a nibble after 15 minutes, change your lure.  It might be something as simple as changing the color.  Just keep trying until you find what attracts them. 

Make sure to visit the official pikeminnow.org website for all official rules, regulations and more tips.  If you don’t live close enough to partake in this program, do some research to see if there are paid conservation projects near you. 

Fishing Stock Photography

Stock photography is in greater demand than you might realize.  Until you undertake a project that requires specific photographs, buying stock photos has probably never even crossed your mind, let alone providing the pictures.  

Most anglers bring along a camera to capture their trophy fish.  Why not improve your camera skills at the same time and take well, thought-out fishing pictures that can be turned into a passive money maker. 

Stock photography is a very saturated market, however, not all topics and subjects are equally represented.  Check out stock photography sites and see what style of photographs the fishing categories contain.  Be creative and fill the missing gaps.    

Here are several online stock photography websites that don’t require you to pay to submit your photos.  They take a commission once your photo is sold, and it can be sold multiple times.  

  • ShutterStock
  • Fotolia
  • Dreamstime
  • GettyImages
  • StockPhoto
  • IStockPhoto
  • Crestock
  • Alamy

Most of these companies require really good photographs, but that’s the point.  No one is going to buy a bad photo.  Advance your fishing photography skills by reviewing our guide to taking better fishing photos.

Also, make sure to do your research before submitting your photos.  Some sites require you to give them exclusive rights, meaning you can’t sell your photos anywhere else. 

There are some however, like Alamy, which do not require exclusivity, so finding other stock photo websites with the same rules allows you to reach more potential buyers. 

Blog about Fishing

This is another passive way to earn an income from one of your hobbies.  You are already going fishing, testing gear, and taking great pictures of your catch.  Why not compile it all once you get home?  Blogging not only shares your experiences and knowledge with others, it preserves all those special memories.  

There are several ways to make money from a blog website.  Ads by Google AdSense, affiliate programs like Amazon, and information products you create and sell are just a few.  

Ranking on Google takes time, so it is better to start your blog without monetizing it.  Uploading stellar content is most crucial.  Once you have lots of traffic each month, then you can start incorporating monetization.   

Make a Fishing YouTube Channel

YouTube is the number one place for advertising and sharing information.  Not everyone gets to enjoy awesome fishing adventures and sharing yours will keep people asking for more.

Creativity and beautiful videography is a must as YouTube grows in popularity.  Well thought out how-to videos are especially popular.  A continual supply of good content will be required to build a large following, but with time subscribers will come, as will monetization opportunities. 

Make Money Fishing

Fishing is a career for some and a hobby for others.  Integrating the suggestions above will add fun and hopefully, a little cash to everyone’s fishing adventure.