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Fishing is both the recreation and sport of catching fish (for food or as a trophy), and the commercial business of catching or harvesting seafood (either fish or other aquatic life-forms, such as shellfish). Fishing is done in a river, canal, lake, sea or ocean, from the shore or from a boat or ship (or occasionally, as in the picture, standing in the water).

Recreational fishing is generally done with a pole (fishing rod) and line with a small number of hooks, a technique known as angling. Laws usually limit the number of lines and hooks that one fisherman can use and the number of fish that can be harvested. Many species of fish are pursued by recreational fishers for various reasons. Popular sport species of fish include bass, pike, muskie, marlin, and swordfish--fish that are a challenge to catch and provide good trophies. Species of fish harvested by sportsmen for eating include perch, trout, salmon, and sunfish. Catch-and-release fishing is increasingly practiced especially by flyfishermen and for rare fish such as marlin.

Laws generally prohibit the use of nets and catching fish with hooks not in the mouth. However some species can be taken with nets for bait and a few for food, like smelt. "Trash" (non-sport) fish considered of less value can sometimes be taken by multiple methods like snagging, bow and arrow, or even gun because they are seen as competing with more valuable fish.

Fishing hook made of bone, from Swedish Stone Age, found in Skåne, Sweden

Recreational fishing laws may also cover other aquatic species, such as frogs and turtles.

Sport fishing is a recent phenomenon where fisherman compete for prizes based on the total weight of fish caught in a time limit. This sport evolved from local fishing derbies into a large competition circuit in the U.S.A. with professional fishermen competing supported by professional endorsements, and other large-scale tournaments around the world.

Commercial fishing is often called the most dangerous occupation in the world. Fishing provides a large quantity of food to many countries around the world, but those who practice it must often pursue fish far into the ocean and during bad weather. Commercial fishermen harvest almost all aquatic species, from tuna and salmon to shrimp, lobster, clams, and squid. Commercial fishing methods have become very efficient using huge nets and sea-borne processing factories. Populations of some species, such as cod, have collapsed because of overfishing and pollution. National fishing seasons have been increasingly restricted and integrated with a variety of fishing rights allocation schemes, and international treaties have sought to limit the yearly fish harvest.

Commercial fish raising in the forms of aquaculture and mariculture supplement the free-range catch of fish.

Table of contents
1 How to fish
2 To tie a hook to a line

How to fish

The "regular season" for fishing is between the months of April and November. The best time of the day for angling is, during the summer months, from sunrise to two or three hours after, and from two hours preceding sunset until an hour after that time. In the colder months the best hours are from twelve to three, for the fish are shy at biting until the air is warmed by the sun. A warm lowering day is, of all others, the most propitious; on a cloudy day, also, succeeding a moonlight night, the fish will bite readily; the most favorable winds are south and southwest - easterly, the most unfavorable.

When fishing, keep at some distance from the margin of the stream, so that your shadow may not fall upon the water, and frighten away the fish; to avoid the same consequences, do not indulge in laughter or loud conversation.

If the water be still, throw in small pieces of ground bait; if a strong current, large pieces; do this quietly and cautiously, for fish are so wary and suspicious, that it requires the nicest delicacy and management to circumvent them.

When the wind blows right across the water, fish with your back to the wind, as you will not only be able to throw your line better, but the fish will be on that side, attracted thither by the flies and other natural bait which the wind will blow into it.

The common angle worm is a universal bait for fresh water angling. They grow almost everywhere except in sandy soils. The common white grub is also used successfully in trout fishing. They are found in fresh ploughed earth, and under old stumps, decaying foliage, etc. The grasshopper is also good for trout in his season. The trout or salmon spawn will attract trout quicker than any other possible bait. Caterpillars, flies, locusts, beetles, etc., are good for trout.

Live bait consists of the minnow, the shiner (or mullet), the goldfish and other small fish. Ponds of these fish are kept by those who furnish baits, and by some habitual sportsmen.

The frog is an excellent bait for pickerel. They are sometimes used whole, but in case where you use the hind legs only, they should be skinned.

For saltwater fishing, the shrimp is the leading bait. The shedder crab, in its season, is most excellent, particularly for striped bass. The soft shell clam, cut in small pieces, is a good bait for many kinds of sea fish. The horse mackerel or small blue fish is an excellent bait. Where the tide runs swift, use the tail, leaving on the fins.

Preparing baits

We have before said that salmon roe was ane excellent bait for trout. The roe of large trout or salmon trout is just as good. These are tempting baits for many other fresh water fish besides the trout. Old fishermen preserve it as follows: First put it in warm water, not hot enough to scald much - then separate the membranous films - rinse it will in cold water and hang it up to dry. The next day salt it with two ounces of salt and a quarter of an ounce of saltpeter to the pound of roe. Let it stand another day and then spread it to dry. When it becomes stiff put it in small pots, pouring over each some melted mutton tallow. You can then use a pot of preparation as you may want it for bait. It is excellent for trout, and indeed for almost any fry in fresh water.

Angle-worms are thus prepared: Take a lot of common moss and wash it in clean water, press it until nearly dry, then put it in an earthen pot with your worms. In a few days the worms will look exceedingly bright and be tough and active. If you wish to preserve them longer, you have only to take out the moss, wash it, sponge it, and return it to the pot. Repeat this process every three or four days and your worms will be in excellent condition as long as you desire to keep them.

To tie a hook to a line

Prepare, by waxing with shoemaker's wax, a piece of strong silk or thread; take your hook in your left hand between your thumb and forefinger, about as high up as the point of the barb or a little higher, as you may fancy; place the end of your silk under your thumb, take three or four random but firm turns around the shank of the hook until you reach the end (for the purpose of preventing the gut being cut by the hook, and moreover that your gut may stick firmly without the possibility of coming off;) now lay your gut or line (the inside of the hook, up) on to this winding, holding it with the end of the thumb, and commence whipping it around firmly and closely, occasionally pressing the turns to keep them even; continue this operation until you get within three or four turns of the finishing point; in order to fasten firmly - give three loose turns, then insert the end of your silk under them, and drawing it through, you have a secure fastening, called the hidden knot. Another method of finishing when you have arrived at the fastening point, is to make two or three half hitch knots; this is done by passing the end under one turn of the silk, making a loop, and drawing it down. The hidden knot is the better and most secure mode.

Sea fishing

Although less art and skill are necessary for sea fishing, the sport is increased by the exhilaration of a pleasant sail or row upon the briny deep.

The first requisite of salt-water fishing is a good boat, which may be anything, from a row boat up to a yacht of a hundred tons, as the taste ro the means of the sportsmen may dictate. For in-shore or harbor fishing, a sail-boat of fifteen feet in length, with a cuddy forward for shelter in case of rain, is the most convenient craft. It should be as light as possible, yet strong enough to resist the action of heavy waves, or an occasional bump on the beach or the rocks.

If you are going "down below" for a day, you want a cod-line for each member of the party, also a perch-line, and, if in the season for mackerel, a mackerel jig.

The best time for starting is on the ebb tide, which should be at an early hour in the morning to render the trip most favorable. You will then have the tide in your favor, if the wind should be light or not fair, with the same advantage to aid you in getting home. You will first run out into deep water, to some approved fishing-ground, whose locality you must learn from those acquainted with the coast. The water will be from ten to thirty fathoms in depth. Here you will anchor if you can - if not, lie too.

"How to fish" taken from the Boy's Own Book of Outdoor Sports (early 1900s)

see also: fishing rod, fishing reel, fishing line, fishing hook, sinker, trolling for fish, fishery, trawling, long-line fishing