Casting Back in Time: Exploring the Fascinating History of Fishing

History of Fishing
History of Fishing

TFG: History of Fishing

A small piece of “History of Fishing”. Fishing already existed in ancient times. Wooden fishing hooks were already found 8,000 years ago. The Greeks and Romans also spoke in their texts about fishing. Even collecting mollusks from the sea is very old.

For example, prehistoric mussel waste piles have already been found along the coasts of England. These hopes were dated to 164,000 years old. Such heaps were found, for example, on the Indian Ocean in South Africa, more precisely in Pinnacle-Point. But there are even older discoveries such as the garbage heaps found in Terra Mata near Nizza (400,000 years old!).

Ancient hooks
Ancient hooks
Fossils Ancient Mollusks
Fossils Ancient Mollusks

Scientists (History of Fishing)

Scientists have even discovered from writings of 2,000 years ago that people already spoke about 50 different fish species that were already serving as food at that time. These were caught in the Euphrates and Tygris in Mesopotamia. That region is now in the current state of Iraq and the northeast of present-day Syria.


The biblical city of Ur, in the southern part of what was then Mesopotamia, also revealed secrets. It turned out that there were already fish stalls where people could eat fried fish. And the Egyptians in turn mainly traded in salted and dried fish.

Middle Ages

In Europe in the Middle Ages, fishing was only practiced by the nobility as an exclusive pastime. In China, on the other hand, the rod was already used 30,000 years ago …

Initially, fishing was only done in freshwater because shipbuilding was not yet active. That was no problem at all because enough fish was caught for the domestic population. Only later with the advent of shipbuilding did people also go out to sea.

Caves (History of Fishing)

In French caves, images of fish have been found as well as decorations on objects. These finds date back to 35,000 – 10,000 years ago. The fishing gear they used then was made of horn or bone. They mainly fished for salmon, pike, and trout.

Long ago, boats were also used for fishing. The indications for this date back to 7,000 years ago. But that’s not all, in East Timor, evidence of fishing boats dating back to 42,000 years could already be found.

Tilapia Fish Story
Ancient Egyptian Tilapia Fish Story
Fish Painting
Fish Painting
Ancient Fishing Boat
Ancient Fishing Boat


Symbols of the fish were also used in various religions. Just think of Christ using it as the very first symbol along with his followers who were fishermen. Fish was considered a very important item and in France, it was forbidden to serve meat in local inns as early as 1648 during Lent.

This strict rule was, of course, warmly welcomed by the merchants. For Jewish families, fish was also central during the Easter meal. And Catholic Friday was declared a Lent day on which only fish could be eaten. At the court of Louis XIV, the fifth course of the dinner was always fish. This was done specifically to take away the flavor of previous meat dishes.

Buddhism religion symbols with fish symbolic attribute. Pair of golden fish or carp sketch symbolise auspiciousness and represented sacred rivers. Religion theme vector elements

History of Fishing – Superstition

In the Middle Ages, sailors were mostly illiterate and that always led to superstition when something happened. They hardly knew what was going on outside their world. Since they were also religious, the idea of ​​the existence of sea monsters soon arose.

In Scandinavia, a special map was designed which, in addition to the common animals such as reindeer, whales, and polar bears, also showed dragons and sea monsters. This map is called “Carta Marina” and dates from 1539. In addition to those dragons and sea monsters, additional symbols were shown on the map: family coats of arms, wars, people, animals, and goods that were traded.

With this, the maker of the map wanted to show what the riches were in his homeland. The man’s name was Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) and he was a writer, cartographer, and Swedish church scholar. The “Carta Marina” has a size of 1.25 by 1.70 meters. It consists of nine separate prints of woodcuts.

Carta Marina

Carta Marina
Carta Marina

Fishing in Art

Engraving of Russian peasant children fishing, A.P. Koverznev 1875
Fishing Canoe
Fishing from a canoe, Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)
Fishing with a harpoon
Fishing with a harpoon, Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude 1851
Chinese fishing nets
The Chinese fishing nets of Fort Cochin,” from ‘Das Buch der Welt’, Stuttgart, 1842–48
fishing fleet
The fishing fleet at Reine, Gunnar Berg (1863–93)

Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC).


As of January 2010, it has been 75 years since Dr. Frederic Fish started the groundbreaking research program that became the Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC). Fish started his research by himself in the basement of the Fisheries Biological Laboratory on Lake Union in Seattle, Washington. This lab had just opened a few months before.


WFRC research began under the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will end its first 75 years as part of the U.S. Geological Survey with a staff of more than 150 biologists and support staff and a history of basic research that has made important contributions to our understanding of the biology and ecology of economically important fish and fish populations of the Nation.


Even though the current staff may not think much about it, WFRC has been around for a long time and has a deep connection to the history of fisheries conservation in the Western U.S. So, WFRC Director Lyman Thorsteinson asked me to write the story of this laboratory “while there are still a few of you around who were here in some of the early years.” This was to preserve the rich history and culture of WFRC by recognizing its many famous scientists and their accomplishments. This history would also help show the “footprint” of WFRC research in the Western United States and its strategic goals.


Center Director Thorsteinson came to the conclusion that the WFRC’s history told by an emeritus scientist would also add a layer of credibility based on personal knowledge that the WFRC and the USGS will soon lose. The story of the WFRC is important for both history and the future. It tells how we got to where we are now by showing where we came from, what our original goal was, and how our role has changed over time to meet the technical information needs of new environmental laws and organizational decision-making.


The policy requirements of Federal conservation laws, which began with the building of Grand Coulee Dam in 1933, led to the creation of the WFRC research program. Laws passed in later years, like the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1973, the Endangered Species Act of 1974, and the Northwest Power Planning Act of 1980, all had an effect on the research program.


The WFRC has not been limited by direct management or regulatory responsibility for a particular fishery (such as providing sustainable catch limits data to a resource management structure). So, WFRC has been able to focus on scientific research and the information needs that modern environmental laws call for.


Over the years, we have been leaders in several important areas of fisheries research, such as the diagnosis and control of diseases in economically important fish, the effects of environmental changes on the physiological quality and survival of Pacific salmon released from federal mitigation hatcheries, applications in biotelemetry, and the bioenergetics of predator-prey interactions in the Columbia River.


Today, the WFRC is a large group with members all over the Western United States. Knowing about the connections and accomplishments of our ancestors is important for more than just making the WFRC family feel proud and united.


For example, a careful reader will notice that WFRC’s research has changed from focusing on one field (hatchery disease problems in the early years) to focus on many fields (species, populations, habitats, threatened and endangered species in the middle to late years) to focusing on many fields in the present day (multidisciplinary and with increasing process focus). For the benefit of the current WFRC staff, more focus has been put on the early years than on the present day. This is because people tend to know more about the recent past than about the research done in the first decades of WFRC’s existence.


By all logical standards, the WFRC has become a fisheries research organization that is well-equipped to provide the biological information needed to help protect and manage our country’s living aquatic natural resources. The high standard of excellence that runs through WFRC’s history and into our current research program gives us a strong base for the work that still needs to be done.


In another 75 years, WFRC will be a very different place from what it is now. However, its change will always be based on the story of the research and the people involved. On the WFRC website,, you can find out more about the different fisheries research projects that scientists are working on right now.

History of Fishing – Funny Quotes Regarding Fishing

1 up to 5

“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.” – Arnold Gingrich

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing” – Norman in “A River Runs Through It

“Some go to church and think about fishing, others go fishing and think about God.” – Tony Blake

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.” – George Carlin

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau

6 up to 10 (History of Fishing)

“I love fishing. You put that line in the water and you don’t know what’s on the other end. Your imagination is under there.” – Robert Altman

“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.” – Charles Waterman

“Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley.” – Ann Landers

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope” – John Buchan

“There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.” – Washington Irving

11 up to 15

“Be patient and calm — for no one can catch fish in anger.” – Herbert Hoover

“Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” – Herbert Hoover

“The great charm of fly-fishing is that we are always learning.” – Theodore Gordon

“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.” – Harry Middleton

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” – Henry David Thoreau

16 up to 20

“There are some fish that cannot be caught. It’s not that they are faster or stronger than other fish, they’re just touched by something extra.” – Edward Bloom in “Big Fish”

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” – Steven Wright

“A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at the office!” Author Unknown.

21 up to 22 (History of Fishing)

“A woman, who has never seen her husband fishing, doesn’t know what a patient man she married!” Author Unknown.

“I got a fishing rod for my wife – good trade,” Author Unknown.

Here you can view today’s fishing hooks.

History of Fishing Boats

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