The Earliest History of FishingJune 18th, 2012
With all of the modern gadgetry most anglers rely on these days, it can come as quite a shock that fishing has been around for about 40,000 years. Analysis performed on skeletal remains dating from that period in pre-history have shown that people were eating fish – and plenty of it. But that’s not the only evidence we have of humanity turning to the sea for sustenance. Discarded fish bones and shells piled high demonstrate that we’ve been eating fish for a long time. Cave paintings – the closest thing we have to a prehistoric postcard – clearly show people catching and eating fish. Fishing may have even played a role in readying humanity for the transition from a nomadic lifestyle to permanent settlements. In almost all known instances of early long-term human settlements, fishing provided the kind of access to food that made roaming unnecessary.
Early anglers had their own gadgets, of course. Harpoons and spearfishing implements were in widespread use during paleolithic times. Over 16,000 years ago, ancient anglers depicted images of people using harpoons in Cosquer cave in Southern France. As Neolithic culture and technology spread between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago, humanity began to develop some of the basic fishing tools that are still in use today. From 7500 to 3000 years ago, for example, Native Americans on the Pacific coast were using hook and line tackle and plant-derived chemical to make fish easier to catch. The Egyptians invented all kinds of fishing methods and tools – many of which they illustrated in tomb scenes, drawings, and scrolls – including metal hooks. There are even depictions of fishing that suggest it wasn’t just about eating, but also having fun!
There’s no real lesson to be found in the early history of fishing. We wanted to share it here because it’s exciting to think that when we head out onto the water, we’re following in the footsteps of our earliest ancestors… even when we’re just fishing for fun.