May one go fishing on Chol Hamoed?

May one go fishing on Chol Hamoed?[1]

Commercial fishing and fishing for food purposes: It is permitted to go fishing during Chol Hamoed if one’s intent in doing so is to eat the fish during the Moed.[2] There is no limit as to how many fish one may catch, and one may thus catch as many fish as possible.[3] It is permitted to fish even in public.[4] [Some Poskim[5] rule that this applies even if one is a professional or occupational fisher. Other Poskim[6] rule that an occupational fisher may not fish in public.[7] This applies especially in today’s times that occupational fishers freeze fish for storage.[8]] Those who were accustomed not to fish during the Moed may break their custom, and are encouraged to do so.[9]

Recreational/sport fishing:[10] Some Poskim[11] rule it is permitted to go recreational/sport fishing on Chol Hamoed, even if one does not intend to eat the caught fish.[12] Other Poskim[13] rule it is forbidden to go recreational/sport fishing on Chol Hamoed, even if one plans to eat a caught Kosher fish.[14]

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[1] Michaber 533/4; See Chol Hameod Kehilchaos 7/21-24

[2] Michaber 533/4; 541/1 “It is permitted to make an amateur fishing net”; M”A 541/1 “If it is done for the need of the Moed”; Rambam Yom Tov 7; Moed Katan 11b

[3] Michaber 533/4

The reason: As it is possible that he will eat the fish during the Moed. [Michaber ibid] Now, although it may not be physically possible to consume all the fish over Yom Tov, nevertheless since there are different levels of quality of fish and by every catch there is possibility of a greater quality fish which will be chosen to be eaten during the Moed, therefore it is allowed without limit. [M”A 533/7; M”B 533/18; Kaf Hachaim 533/26]

[4] Rama ibid; Mordechai

The reason: As everyone knows that one is catching the fish for the need of the Moed. [Rama ibid]

[5] Implication of Rama 533/4-5; Kaf Hachaim 533/29; See Biur Halacha 533/5 “Shel Chayos”

[6] M”A 533/10 based on Rambam and Michaber; Elya Raba 533/5; Biur Hagr”a; Poskim in Shaar Hatziyon 533/33 and conclusion of Biur Halacha 533/5 “Shel Chayos” that so is the correct Girsa in the Gemara that even fish may not be trapped in public; See Chol Hameod Kehilchaos 7/22

[7] The reason: As people who see an occupational fisherman out fishing will think he is running his business as usual, and is not fishing for the sake of the Moed. [Biur Halacha ibid]

[8] Chol Hameod Kehilchaos 7 footnote 65

[9] M”A 533/8; Kaf Hachaim 533/30

The reason: As they diminish in Simchas Yom Tov. [ibid]

[10] Background: Ideally, it is forbidden to perform even food related Melacha during the Moed, such as catching fish, if one’s intent in doing so is not for the purpose of eating the fish, but rather as a sport or recreation. Nonetheless, being that there is a certain pleasure/Taanug derived from fishing, the mere act itself, irrelevant of whether one eats the fish, can possibly be considered “for the need of the Moed”, the same way it is permitted to ride an animal for leisure purposes. [See Michaber 536/1] This matter is under debate amongst today’s Poskim.

[11] Rav Moshe Feinstein in Sefer Hilchos Chol Hamoed 13, although concludes it is best to eat the Kosher fish that is caught; Shemiras Hamoed Kehilchaso 3/7 and footnote 16 in name of Rav Elyashiv

[12] The reason: As receiving pleasure from an action during the Moed is considered a type of Tzoreich Hamoed which allows doing Maaseh Hedyot. [ibid based on Michaber 536/1]

[13] Rivivos Efraim 1/356; Rav Moshe Shtern in Hilchos Chol Hameod in English regarding public fishing [forbids even if possible that he will eat fish]; Chol Hamoed Kehilchaso [Farkash] 9/24 in name of Rav SZ”A, Rav Wozner, Rav Bransdofer; Piskeiy Teshuvos 534/4 [see however footnote 11 there that if one plans to place the fish in an aquarium in one’s home and will not have an opportunity to fish after the Moed, then it is permitted to do so.]

[14] The reason: As one’s main intent is for the sport and not for eating purposes, and this is recognizable to all when done in public. Now, pleasure alone is not considered a tangible “Tzoreich Hamoed” definition to justify the performance of Melacha. [Poskim ibid]

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