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Fishing, form of recreation that is probably the world's most popular participant sport; it is also one of the oldest. People fished for food in prehistoric times, probably first by using the “tickling” method of catching fish by hand, which is still very popular in the Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Today there are millions of people who fish for pleasure or in competition; they are called anglers. There are more than 20 million fishing licenses issued annually. Competitively, the modes of fishing are almost as numerous and varied as the types of fish to be caught in fresh or salt water. World records by weight, length, and girth exist for every type of fish from albacore to yellowtail. The bait itself is subject to strict rules and regulations for competitive fishing, and skill in accuracy and length of casting is the subject of national and world championships.

History of the sport

References to fishing as a sport go back at least as early as Roman times, when Ovid, Martial, and Ausonius all remarked upon it in their writings. Even the specialized branch of flycasting was the subject of a work by Aelian in the 2nd century A.D. However, the best research on the subject came in 3 books published in England within the space of 40 years in the 17th century: John Denny's Secrets of Angling (1613), Thomas Barker's Art of Angling (1651), and Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler (1653). The first fishing club in North America, formed in 1732, was called the Schuylkill Fishing Company of Philadelphia, and one of its earliest guests was George Washington. However, national organizations for the sport did not exist until the formation of the American Rod and Reel Association early in the 19th century, and even then real impetus to competitive fishing was left to the Chicago Fly-Casting Club, formed in 1893, which played a leading part in organizing the first recognized national championships. This preceded the formation of the governing body, the National Association of Scientific Angling Clubs, in 1906.

Modes of angling

The 3 main types of modern angling are pan angling, game angling, and sea angling. Pan anglers stick mainly to angling for fish in slow and deep rivers or canals; game anglers go for trout, salmon, and other fish that populate fast-running streams or mountain rivers and can only be caught by accurate casting of the appropriate lure; and sea anglers generally fish for the larger catches, such as shark, tuna, tarpon, and barracuda. In the modern era, sea angling has been the fastest of all in developing and has opened up wide areas of fishing off the coasts of Florida, Hawaii, California, the Carribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and England.

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