The History of Fishing

Based in New Jersey, Vicki Patterson serves as Barn Manager at RiverPointe Farm. In this role, Vicki Patterson manages the care of 10 dogs, 11 horses, a flock of sheep, and happy, healthy puppies. Actively involved in collie rescue for many years, she possesses three rescued collies and five dachshunds. In her leisure time, Ms. Patterson enjoys reading, hunting, fishing, and gardening. In the following, she outlines the history of the ancient art of fishing.

Originating as a method of catching fish for food, fishing currently serves both as sport and as hunting. The first evidence of fishing was found in an Egyptian scene from around 2000 BC. The artwork depicts people fishing with rod and line, as well as nets. In China around the fourth century BC, writers tell about fishermen using a silk line and hook, as well as a bamboo rod. Cultures around the world have practiced fishing, including those from Assyria, Greece, Rome, and Israel.

Most developments in the art of fishing have involved changes in tackle, as the equipment used for fishing is commonly known. Early fishing was accomplished with a tool called a gorge. Constructed of wood, bone, or stone, the gorge was sharpened at both ends and hung off-center on the line, covered in bait. Fish then swallowed the gorge, which wedged itself in the throat of the fish, allowing the fisherman to pull the fish in. When metal became more common in toolmaking, some of the first things made were hooks used in catching fish.

Early hooks were used on lines strung from boats. When fishermen added rods to their tackle, they could fish from the shore, using the rod to suspend the line out in sufficiently deep water. At first, rods were short, made from only a single length of wood or bamboo. Romans in the fourth century AD began joining pieces together to make longer rods, enabling the advent of fly fishing with artificial flies.

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