Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish.
Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping.
Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back to at least the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period about 40,000 years ago. Isotopic analysis of the remains of Tianyuan man, a 40,000-year-old modern human from eastern Asia, has shown that he regularly consumed freshwater fish.
Archaeology features such as shell middens, discarded fish bones, and cave paintings show that sea foods were important for survival and consumed in significant quantities.
One of humankind’s earliest tools was the predecessor of the fishhook: a gorge — that is, a piece of wood, bone, or stone 2.5 cm (1 inch) or so in length, pointed at both ends and secured off-centre to the line. The gorge was covered with some kind of bait. When a fish swallowed the gorge, a pull on the line wedged it across the gullet of the fish, which could then be pulled in.
With the advent of the use of copper and bronze, a hook was one of the first tools made from metal. This was attached to a hand-operated line made of animal or vegetable material of sufficient strength to hold and land a fish. The practice of attaching the other end of the line to a rod, at first probably a stick or tree branch, made it possible to fish from the bank or shore and even to reach over vegetation bordering the water.
Fishing as a sport, however, is of considerable antiquity.
An Egyptian angling scene from about 2000 BC shows figures fishing with rod and line and with nets.
A Chinese account from about the 4th century BC refers to fishing with a silk line, a hook made from a needle, and a bamboo rod, with cooked rice as bait.
References to fishing are also found in ancient Greek, Assyrian, Roman, and Jewish writings.
For over a thousand years, the fishing rod remained short, not more than a metre or so (a few feet) in length. The earliest references to a longer, jointed rod are from Roman times, about the 4th century AD.
The early evolution of fishing as recreation is not clear. For example, there is anecdotal evidence for fly fishing in Japan, however, fly fishing was likely to have been a means of survival, rather than recreation.
The earliest English essay on recreational fishing was published in 1496, by Dame Juliana Berners, the prioress of the Benedictine Sopwell Nunnery. This type of fishing became popular during the 16th and 17th centuries and it was performed on rivers and lakes.
The impact of the Industrial Revolution was first felt in the manufacture of fly lines. Instead of anglers twisting their own lines – a laborious and time-consuming process – the new textile spinning machines allowed for a variety of tapered lines to be easily manufactured and marketed.
When the first motorboats appeared in 19th century, big-game fishing started to be popular. Dr. Charles Frederick Holder, a marine biologist and early conservationist is considered an inventor of this branch of fishing.
Fishing is still today popular – as a sport and as a part of economy of some countries.
According to FAO statistics, the total number of fishermen and fish farmers is estimated to be 38 million. Fisheries and aquaculture provide direct and indirect employment to over 500 million people.
One of the world’s longest lasting trade histories is the trade of dry cod from the Lofoten area to the southern parts of Europe, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The trade in cod started during the Viking period or before, has been going on for more than 1000 years and is still important.
According to IGFA records, the largest fish ever caught was a great white shark that weighed an unbelievable 1,208 kg (2,664 pounds). Caught off the coast of Ceduna, Australia, in 1959, it took angler Alfred Dean just 50 minutes to win the fight against this one-ton shark.
Fly fishing is an art form that not everyone can master. It takes skill, patience, determination and knowledge. It can be very meditative and gives a sense of satisfaction with the perfect cast. As you cast a fly line back and forth immersed in your environment and focused on the present, you feel euphoric.
In North America the most popular sporting freshwater fish species include bass, pike, walleye, muskellunge, yellow perch, trout, salmon, crappie, bluegill and sunfish. In Europe many anglers fish for species such as carp, pike, bream, tench, rudd, roach, European perch, catfish and barbel.
The term fishing may be applied to catching other aquatic animals such as shellfish, cephalopods, crustaceans and echinoderms. The term is not usually applied to catching aquatic mammals, such as whales, where the term whaling is more appropriate, or to farmed fish.
Going fishing outdoors increases your vitamin D, which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, keeping your bones and teeth healthy. It boosts your immune system and has been linked to fighting depression.
Fishing also gives you the pleasure of self-fulfillment. When you go to fishing, you respect your outdoor environment, you learn skills, you learn to be patient, and above all, you set a goal for yourself and you try to achieve that goal, and all these activities give you a sense of fulfillment.