12 ‘Gone Fishing’ or Fishing Poems for a Funeral

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At a funeral, friends and family members will often perform readings in tribute to their deceased loved ones. The topics of these readings often tie into a subject or activity that the deceased thoroughly enjoyed doing.

If you’ve been asked to read a funeral poem in honor of someone who has passed away, it’s always a nice touch to find something that would resonate with them.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Poems can also be used to round out a eulogy or to make a memorial card feel more personal. These fishing-themed poems are the perfect way to memorialize someone who found simple joy in the act of fishing.

For more help with funeral planning and all the complexities of losing a loved one, check out our post-loss checklist.    

Short Fishing Poems for an Obituary 

When a person passes away, their loved ones often publish an obituary online or in the local newspaper. Obituaries contain biographical details of the deceased, and talk about the impact they had on their communities.

Obituaries are generally just 200 to 500 words in length so there isn’t room for much extra detail. But these short fishing poems can provide a special touch to an obituary.  

1. "Fishing Blues” by Florence Cassen Mayers 

In this poem, the writer describes the excitement and disappointment that can come along with fishing. For some people, it’s all about the thrill of the catch. They like to prove they have the right combination of skill and patience.

Not every fishing excursion is successful, though. This matter-of-fact poem essentially states that fishing is much like life. Both can be uneven and unpredictable, but ultimately both are always worth it. 

2. "Fishing, His Birthday” by Michael Sowder 

This short and bittersweet poem lists the contents of a fishing tackle box. Here are just a few lines of the lengthy inventory:

With adams, caddis, tricos, light cahills,
blue-wing olives, royal coachmen, chartreuse trudes,
green drakes, blue duns, black gnats, Nancy quills,
Joe’s hoppers, yellow humpies, purple chutes,
prince nymphs, pheasant tails, Eileen’s hare’s ears,
telicos, flashbacks, Jennifer’s muddlers,
Frank bugs, sow bugs, zug bugs, autumn splendors,
woolly worms, black buggers, Kay’s gold zuddlers,

But despite all the choices he has, he ends up choosing a simple gray quill, the last piece of bait his father tied, for his fishing expedition. This would be a lovely inclusion in an obituary for a father who fished.  

3. "Fishing” by A.E. Stallings 

Though this poem is brief, it paints a very clear picture of a father and daughter who have fished together for years.

Now that she’s getting older, the poem implies that there are other things she might rather be doing. But the act of fishing still connects father and daughter as strongly and invisibly as fishing wire. 

4. "Without Baggage” by Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh) 

This short stanza is actually part of a longer poem titled “En Route.” But its subjects of freedom and anticipation works perfectly as a standalone piece as part of an obituary:

To travel without baggage, sleep on the train
on a hard wooden bench,
forget your native land,
emerge from small stations
when a gray sky rises
and fishing boats head to sea.

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Fishing Poems for a Eulogy

In many funeral traditions, a friend or family member may deliver a eulogy as part of the ceremony. A eulogy is a speech that celebrates the life of the deceased. It typically includes personal stories about the person who has passed away and often touches on their interests.

These fishing poems are an excellent inclusion to a eulogy.    

5. "Requiem for the Fishermen” by Regina Elliott 

This published poem (and 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee) serves as an elegy to every fisherman who has lost their lives at sea. Lines like this:

In funereal respect,
come to the sailors' cathedral,
sing a hymn of the sea,
their families' grief will reflect
beyond their own years-
within the tides is their briny tears. 
draw parallels between salty tears and the saltwater of the open ocean.

This poem would be beautiful in a eulogy for someone who made a living as a deep-sea fisherman. Even if they didn’t die at sea, they devoted their entire lives to it. 

6. "Night Fishing, Lake Polly” by Barton Sutter 

In this poem, a solitary narrator goes fishing for a day and stays long into the stillness of the night. As he stands on a rock, casting his line into the dark waters of the lake at night, he reflects on connection.

Even though he is there alone, he also carries with him the people who he loves:

I seem to be both me and you,
And we are my father, my mother,
My lover, my brother, that ghost of the woods
Who sings in my blood, urging courage
And uncommon sense: “Everything breathes,
Even rocks.”

7. "Aubade” by Tom Sleigh 

In this evocative poem, the author speaks about the memories the sea can create and hold. He talks specifically about a pair of people going out fishing after midnight, watching slippery schools of squid sliding through the water. The author also uses lines like:

Lathe of the ocean. Perpetual
Motion machine of the waves. Everything still
Being turned and shaped to a shape nobody
Foresees

to illustrate the ocean’s permanence.    

8. "The Sailor’s Grave at Clo-oose, V.I.” by Marjorie Pickthall 

This poignant poem talks about a sailor at the end of his days. Lines like these:

Out of the winds' and the waves' riot,
Out of the loud foam,
He has put in to a great quiet
And a still home.

create a contemplative and soothing mood. 

Fishing Poems for a Memorial Card or Online Memorial

After a person passes away, their family members often put together online memorials for people who can’t attend. They may also print memorial cards to add a personal touch to a themed funeral or send to loved ones who live farther away which may include memorial quotes or poems.

These fishing poems would be the perfect element to add to a memorial card or online memorial.   

9. "Cloud Fishing” by Phillis Levin 

This poem describes what fishing must look like from the perspective of the fish:

To fish from a cloud in the sky
You must find a comfortable spot,
Spend a day looking down
Patiently, clear-sighted.

Peer at your ceiling:
Where a light dangles, hook & line
Could be slipping through.

Under the hull of a boat
A fish will see things this way,

Looking up while swimming by

This poem can also serve as a kind of metaphor. When mourners hear it, they can imagine their late loved one perched up in the clouds and looking down, fishing pole in hand. 

10. "Fishing” by Jack Stewart 

This meditative poem paints a pastoral picture of fishing on Lake Michigan. The narrator sits on the shore and watches as the boats sail off into the horizon, churning the water white as they set their lines.

Like a stone dropped into water, the effects of these fishing boats ripple out all the way to shore. It’s a nice metaphor for how much impact a simple fisherman could have on the world. 

11. "My Father and Myself Facing the Sun” by Lawson Fusao Inada 

In this imagery-laden poem, the writer describes how families can change over generations. He goes fishing with his children and his father, and at that moment can see the connection they all share.

It is a sweet tribute that would be appropriate for someone of any generation represented in the poem.  

12. "Long Island Sound” by Emma Lazarus 

If the name Emma Lazarus sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because of her poem “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

This dreamy, luminous poem evokes all the beauty of a serene fishing spot.  

Sending a Loved One to That Great Fishing Hole in the Sky 

When you ask people why they like to fish, you’ll hear any number of reasons. Some people enjoy spending time with friends and family, and fishing gives them an opportunity to get together. Other people enjoy getting out into nature. Fishing enthusiasts find it to be a soothing and meditative practice.

If fishing was a big part of a loved one’s life, it makes sense to incorporate it into aspects of the funeral or memorial. You don’t have to include poems about death in an obituary, eulogy, or memorial card. Sometimes a poem about fishing is the perfect choice.  

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