Hollywood Goes Fishing: 10 Scenes You Shouldn’t Miss

Sport fishing as shown in major motion pictures ranges from the sublime to the silly, as these 10 scenes from both blockbusters and obscure films demonstrate.

January 6, 2017

These 10 movie scenes might surprise you. Enjoy them — and be sure not to miss number 10 … watch it if you dare!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975

fishing scenes in the movies - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest film clip
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest United Artists

One of the best fishing scenes in any movie anywhere, ever — but that’s hardly surprising given that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest swept the Academy Awards in 1976 including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and more. Ironically, director Milos Forman wasn’t going to shoot the scene until persuaded otherwise. Of course the scene will be most appreciated by those who’ve seen movie (with the swaggering Jack Nicholson as McMurphy playing deckhand to the gang of escapees from the asylum). And, yes, this was really shot off Oregon, out of DePoe Bay. (This clip doesn’t include the scene where Candy the hooker — with the heart of gold of course — cranks in a salmon, topless. Candy, not the salmon.)


A River Runs Through It, 1992

fishing scenes in the movies - A River Runs Through It film clip
A River Runs Through It Columbia Pictures

Given that the whole film has to do with fishing, in reality and as a metaphor, one would expect to find a scene from A River Runs Through It on a list like this. It offers proof that Hollywood can depict angling through a lens both realistically and favorably. Brad Pitt is one seriously hardcore fly-rodder; even being submerged down a stretch of rapids can’t deprive him of his trophy trout.


Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, 2013

fishing scenes in the movies - Bad Grandpa film clip
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Paramount Pictures & MTV Films

Okay, so maybe this scene from Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa isn’t quite as elegant as Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It; some might say it has its own special charm. Or not. In any case, it’s surprising what can lurk in golf course ponds.

(Warning: Contains graphics scenes of shocking piscatorial anatomy.)


Godzilla, 1998

fishing scenes in the movies - Godzilla film clip
Godzilla TriStar Pictures

All I ever managed to hook in the East River were stripers and bluefish. I feel so inadequate. (Though I have to wonder how a fish screams out line while moving toward an angler….)


The Saint, 1963 (TV)

fishing scenes in the movies - The Saint film clip
The Saint New World Productions

This scene from the 60s TV show The Saint, starring Roger Moore (episode entitled “The Effete Angler,” and, no, I not making that up) was posted to You Tube as “The Worst Fishing Scene in Cinematic History.” With clips like the one above from Bad Grandpa, I’m not so sure of that. But this is so manifestly bogus that anyone who has any idea what the sport of fishing is about (clearly no one involved in this TV show did) should get a laugh. Watch Moore hook up on a small marlin and begin ferociously cranking a large trolling reel — which he holds upside down.


Joe Versus the Volcano, 1990

fishing scenes in the movies - Joe Versus the Volcano film clip
Joe Versus the Volcano Warner Brothers

At least in this scene from Joe Versus the Volcano, a young Tom Hanks does hold the trolling reel right-side up, when — to the sounds of the Rascal’s “True Love” — he hooks The Big One. (Though the annoying people on the boat deprive him of any chance for a world record when they keep grabbing his fishing rod!) Don’t watch this alone: the ending is extremely disturbing.


Funny Farm, 1988

fishing scenes in the movies - Funny Farm film clip
Funny Farm Warner Brothers

There seems to be a theme in how Hollywood generally portrays fishing — that is, as a dangerous pastime full of unpredictable events and bad animals. In this Chevy Chase sendup from Funny Farm, watch the frightening result of an attempt for some quiet moments wetting a line in the pond.


Of course Hollywood can also offer an instructive look at the sport, as here, where Chevy Chase in the video below demonstrates the first rule for removing from your buddy a hook, large or small.


Waterworld, 1995

fishing scenes in the movies - Waterworld film clip
Waterworld Universal Pictures

Who ever said fishing is boring? Emulate Kevin Costner in Waterworld; try trolling yourself as bait.


Undead, 2003

fishing scenes in the movies - Undead film clip
Undead Spierigfilm

Warning: After watching the Australian movie Undead, you might never go fishing again. Don’t laugh. This could happen to you. There are lessons here, including not leaving dead fish in the bottom of your boat, since any stray comets that fall on them will turn them not just into zombie fish but zombie fish that (a) scream loudly and (b) leap up to latch onto your schnozz unless you can shoot ’em in mid-air first.

fishing scenes in the movies - Jaws film clip
There are of course some other movies that depict fishing, including classic scenes in the classic, Jaws, but also On Golden Pond, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Gone Fishin’, The Perfect Storm and others. But we’ll save those for another video gallery. Universal Pictures

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