10 Fantastic Fishing Songs

10 Fantastic Fishing Songs

singing by the river

Image source: BigStock
The riverbank has always inspired great music.

Do you have your own all-time favourite fishing songs? Here are 10 of ours, spanning genres as varied as country, blues and folk. These catchy little odes to the world’s best sport have been collected together from our much-listened to playlists, YouTube watchlists, and much-loved records on our shelves.

Be advised, these fantastic fishing songs will have you running to the riverbank (or the record shop) in no time at all!

1 – “Fisherman’s Blues” – The Waterboys

Marking their transition from rockers to adopted Irish folk-rockers, “Fisherman’s Blues” is the titular song in The Waterboys’ now-classic 1988 album. Singing of their wish to be fishermen, “tumblin’ on the seas, far away from dry land and bitter memories”, they evoke the amazing sense of freedom that fishing gives you. Listening to the line, “no ceiling bearin’ down on me, except the starry sky above,” it’s almost more than we can take not to dash out into the night with our fishing rods right then.

2 – “Fishin’ Blues” – Taj Mahal

For a song called “Fishing Blues”, Taj Mahal’s tune is downright upbeat. But that’s because he’s a man who’s pretty darn happy; he’s “goin’ fishin’, yes I’m goin’ fishin’ and my baby goin’ fishin’ too”. Who wouldn’t be happy about that? Taj Mahal, a renowned American blues musician, recorded this version in 1968, but the song’s a lot older than that; the earliest version we know about dates to 1928. More than just a jaunty tune, it’s also got some decent advice at it’s core: “many fish bite if you got good bait”. Simple, but to the point.

3 – “Gone Fishin’” – Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong

Now for an oldie, but a goodie. Legendary duo, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, have got their priorities right in their 1951 classic  “Gone Fishin’”. They’ve left the “hoe out in the sun” and hung signs on their office doors, and headed straight to the river to fish. “Mister Satch and Mister Cros” really know how to live. Roughly a decade after the success of this song, Bing and Louis recorded an entire album together; a dynamite duo like this doesn’t come around every day. As for this song, we dare you to listen and not croon along with them.

4 – “I’m gonna go fishin’” – Peggy Lee

Another vintage entry into our Top 10, this time from the 70s, comes from American jazz singer Peggy Lee. Originally composed by Duke Ellington, “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’” has been performed by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Mel Torme, and New Orleans star Dr John over the years. But we like the spin Ms Lee puts on this classic track. Just listen to her sultry, dulcet tones singing about fishing for trout. “I’m gonna go fishing and jump in the lake,” she sings. We wouldn’t mind jumping in with her…

5 – “Can’t Catch a Fish” – The Fishing Musicians

You don’t need to dive down deep to get the wisdom of “Can’t Catch a Fish”, it’s right there in the fun, cheery lyrics. Offering life advice in the guise of an ode to our favourite pastime, the Fishing Musicians remind you that “you can’t catch a fish if your line ain’t in the water.” True words, indeed. And if you like what you see, you can always catch more of the Fishing Musicians on their YouTube channel.

6 – “Fish and Whistle” – John Prine

Now let’s take the tempo down a notch with “Fish and Whistle”, a song from John Prine’s 1978 album, “Bruised Orange”. A brave choice for the opening track, this sweet-sounding song is a meditation on mankind’s flaws, and almost a celebration of all the little things in our lives. Settle back, let it wash over you and take its message to heart. “We’ll forgive each other till we both turn blue, then we’ll whistle and go fishing in heaven.”

8 – “Deep River Blues” – Doc Watson

Conjuring up steamboats and banjos and early morning river mist, Doc Watson’s “Deep River Mist” is a bluesy tale of heading to the river to escape your troubles. You wouldn’t know it by listening to his masterful fingerwork but Doc, born in 1928, was actually blind from the age of one. Never letting his lack of sight slow him down, Doc went on to become an accomplishment folk and bluegrass musician and, later, one of the best acoustic guitarists in the states.

9 – “Five Pound Bass” – Robert Earl Keen

Another musician with tiptop skills, Robert Earl Keen’s tale of the five pound bass will get your toes tapping. There are no metaphors or life lessons here; Keen’s song is a hearty, uptempo song about waking up to catch an epic fish. “I find a perfect spot… I tie my lure, I make my cast”, watching the “lure as it’s flying through the air” into the cool, clean water. And does he catch it? Dear reader, he does. And “it’s big as a god-damned baby.”

10 – “Fishin’ in the Dark” – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The American country music group, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (or NGDB to fans), released “Fishin’ in the Dark” in 1987. It was a massive hit then and it’s still a classic now. And though it doesn’t take a genius to see through the euphemisms, this is an all-out feel-good tune about love and fishing… of sorts. “It don’t matter if… the fish don’t bite” when “you and me go fishin’ in the dark, lyin’ on our backs and countin’ the stars.”

“A Bad Day’s Fishing (beats a good day’s work)”, Slim Dusty

We can all agree that Slim Dusty knows what he’s talking about. A mediocre day at the river still beats most things – especially a day at work. We all know that feeling when the fish aren’t biting, but the midges are and yet, somehow, you don’t care. That’s because, as Slim would say, even a “bad day’s fishing is good for the soul.” Sing it, Slim!

So that was our Top 10, but the fishing song fun doesn’t stop there; we’ve put together a playlist of some of these songs for your listening enjoyment, plus a few extra for good measure. Now you can enjoy fishing songs wherever you are! But we’re always on the hunt for more, so let us know some of your favourites on our Facebook page.