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Fishing Merit Badge Helps and Documents

Scouts working on the Fishing merit badge learn to safely catch, clean, and cook fish. They familiarize themselves with a variety of fishing equipment and the knots needed to use it. They also learn about different species of fish and types of baits.

There is also a merit badge specifically for fly fishing.

Fishing is an elective merit badge.

Fishing Merit Badge Resources

Help with Answers for the Fishing Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Fishing merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 1: Hazards and Safety

Do the following:

  1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in fishing activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
  2. Discuss the prevention of and treatment for the following health concerns that could occur while fishing, including cuts and scratches, puncture wounds, insect bites, hypothermia, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and sunburn.
  3. Explain how to remove a hook that has lodged in your arm.
  4. Name and explain five safety practices you should always follow while fishing.

Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

Fishing Hazards

  • Bad weather
  • Heavy waves or fast currents
  • Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke
  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Insect bites
  • Wounds from fishhooks

Weather Hazards Online Course

The Weather Hazards online course from BSA will help you be prepared for all types of weather. This is especially important if you will be fishing from a boat.

First Aid Demonstration for Cuts

When you are doing first aid instruction, it is best to demonstrate it as much as possible. Here is a simple method.

Fake Wounds for First Aid Demonstrations

For a more elaborate demonstration for Tenderfoot requirement 4, try this method of making a fake wound on a “victim” or two.

Puncture Wounds

  • Encourage the wound to bleed to flush out dirt and debris
  • If an object is embedded, sterilize a tweezers with heat and pull the object out
  • Clean the site with soap and water
  • Allow the wound to air dry
  • Cover the area with a clean, dry dressing
  • Get a tetanus booster if necessary

Insect Bites and Stings

  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Avoid scratching
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you become ill, have difficulty breathing, or have severe pain and swelling

First Aid for Tick Bites

While most tick bites won’t cause more than minor irritation, if treated incorrectly complications may occur.

Avoiding Hypothermia During Cold Weather Activities

How to Recognize and Treat Hypothermia

Learn how to avoid and treat hypothermia.

Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration

To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables.

You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.

Read more

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

You can prevent heat problems, using these tips:

  • Avoid hard exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • If you’re not in shape, slow down and let your body adjust.
  • Make sure you acclimate to the environment and get in shape before the event.
  • Dress in layers and wear clothing that breathes and wicks moisture away from you.
  • Eat snacks that contain a little salt.
  • Drink water and keep drinking it.

Read more

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

If you or someone else has heat exhaustion, treat symptoms in the following ways.

  • Get out of the heat quickly and into a cool place, or at least shade.
  • Lie down and elevate your legs to get blood flowing to your heart.
  • Take off any tight or extra clothing.
  • Apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath. This will help regulate and lower your internal body temperature.
  • Drink fluids, such as water or a sports drink. Do not guzzle them, but take sips. Do not drink fluids with caffeine or alcohol.

Read more, including when to call 911.

Sunburn Prevention and Treatment


  • Avoid being in the sun between 10am and 4pm
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat, a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and UV blocking sunglasses
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or if you are sweating or swimming

Learn more about sunburn, including options for relief

How to Remove a Hook from Your Arm

  • First, cut any fishing line, fish, bait, or lure from the fish hook. This is best done with sharp, side-cutting pliers.
  • Use ice or cold water for 2 to 3 minutes to numb the area.
  • If the barb of the fish hook has not entered the skin, pull the tip of the hook back out.
  • If the barb is embedded in the skin, first try the string-pull method.

Read more, including when you should seek medical help instead of removing the hook yourself.

Safety Practices While Fishing

  • Don’t fish alone
  • Bring a first-aid kit.
  • Take precautions to prevent heat reactions, dehydration, or hypothermia.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Limit physical activity.
  • Wear eye protection (e.g., sunglasses) and a hat.
  • Slipping, falling into underwater holes, being swept down river by flowing water, lightning and storms, and vulnerability to large wild animals are additional concerns. The farther out you go, the risks increase—so be prepared!
  • Write a trip plan and leave it with someone.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 2: Fishing Outfits

Discuss the differences between two types of fishing outfits. Point out and identify the parts of several types of rods and reels. Explain how and when each would be used. Review with your counselor how to care for this equipment.

Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

Types of Fishing Reels
Click on graphic to enlarge

Types of Fishing Outfits

  • Spincast reel
  • Spinning reel
  • Baitcasting reel

Read more about the designs, advantages, disadvantages, and casting techniques for each of these.

Caring for Your Gear

  • Wash after use and allow to dry thoroughly
  • Oil and lubricate the reel
  • Never store in direct sunlight or in a hot car
  • Avoid getting sunscreen or insect repellent on the lines

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 3: Proper Use of Fishing Equipment

Demonstrate the proper use of two different types of fishing equipment.

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 4: Fishing Knots

Demonstrate how to tie the following knots: improved clinch knot, Palomar knot, uni knot, uni to uni knot, and arbor knot. Explain how and when each knot is used.

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

8 Fishing Knots to Know

This article shows how to tie:

  • Improved clinch knot
  • Palomar knot
  • Turtle knot
  • Blood knot
  • Double surgeon’s knot
  • Wire line to mono knot
  • Tucked sheet bend
  • Snelling a hook

See the step-by-step instructions

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 5: Lures and Baits

Name and identify five basic artificial lures and five natural baits and explain how to fish with them. Explain why baitfish are not to be released.

Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

Explain Why Baitfish Are Not to Be Released

Moving baitfish from one body of water to another increases the risk of spreading invasive species and fish health concerns. Be aware that releasing live bait and bait water can introduce undesirable fish, parasites, or diseases to native fish.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 6: Ethics

Do the following:

  1. Explain the importance of practicing Leave No Trace techniques. Discuss the positive effects of Leave No Trace on fishing resources.
  2. Discuss the meaning and importance of catch and release. Describe how to properly release a fish safely to the water.

Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

Leave No Trace

The 7 Principles of LNT:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of others

Review the principles of Leave No Trace on the BSA website or on the Leave No Trace website. Or use the video below.

Leave No Trace and Fishing

  • Dispose of waste properly when cleaning fish. Check for local recommendations.
  • Don’t dump baitfish to avoid introducing invasive species.
  • Properly dispose of the clipped ends of fishing lines.

Catch and Release

Practice catch-and-release
fishing to help ensure quality
fishing for future anglers. The motto,
“Limit your kill; don’t kill your limit” should be part of every Leave No Trace experience.

Minimizing Fish Stress for Catch and Release

  • Use barbless hooks
  • Cut the line if the fish is hooked deeply and removing the hook may cause significant harm
  • Don’t fight the fish too long when landing it. Use appropriate rod and line for the type of fish in the area.
  • Avoid fishing mid-day when the water is warm.
  • When holding the fish, keep it positioned so water is flowing over it. Let it swim away when recovered.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 7: Regulations

Obtain and review the regulations affecting game fishing where you live. Explain why they were adopted and what is accomplished by following them.

Requirement 7 Helps and Answers

How to Find Local Fishing Regulations

Regulations vary from state to state. Check with your state’s department of natural resources to find regulations in your area.

Fishing License Information by State

Just click on your state to find out about licensing requirements, exceptions, and how to get a license.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 8: Sportsmanlike Behavior

Explain what good outdoor sportsmanlike behavior is and how it relates to anglers. Tell how the Outdoor Code of the Boy Scouts of America relates to a fishing sports enthusiast, including the aspects of littering, trespassing, courteous behavior, and obeying fishing regulations.

Requirement 8 Helps and Answers

The Outdoor Code

As an American, I will do my best to
Be clean in my outdoor manners
Be careful with fire
Be considerate in the outdoors
Be conservation-minded

Read more about what each of these mean.

Fishing and the Outdoor Code

  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Be considerate by letting upstream anglers have the right of way.
  • Don’t disturb other anglers in the area.
  • Don’t cross someone’s property without permission.
  • Follow conservation laws.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 9: Catch a Fish

Catch at least one fish and identify it.

Requirement 9 Helps and Answers

Find Places to Fish in Your Area has an interactive map which will help you to locate the places to fish closest to you. Just enter your zip code. You might be amazed to find local parks that allow fishing! Learn more.

Fishing Merit Badge Requirement 10: Clean and Cook a Fish

 If regulations and health concerns permit, clean and cook a fish you have caught. If you are unable to catch a fish for eating, acquire a fish, clean the fish you acquired, and cook the fish you acquired. (It is not required that you eat the fish.)

Requirement 10 Helps and Answers

Make Hobo Pack Fish

Scout Logan Guleff won the MasterChef Junior TV cooking competition for kids. See his recipe for making fish in a foil pack. You can use his recipe for this Fishing merit badge requirement.

Video Resources

How to Scale and Clean a Fish: See how to clean bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish.

Other Resources for the Fishing Merit Badge

Scouts BSA Fishing Related Program Features


One response to “Fishing Merit Badge Helps and Documents”

  1. Tylene Byrd Avatar
    Tylene Byrd

    Is there a printable checkoff sheet for this merit badge? They are amazing!

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