Fishing has been a part of life for as long as history has been recorded.
Angling, to say the least, has changed a lot over the years.
We have come from fishing hooks made out of bone and shell, to surgically sharpened metal hooks. Boats have gone from small wood and aluminum flat bottoms to large fiberglass models with high powered motors. Yet, the pursuit has always remained the same, a man with a hook attached to a line waiting to feel something bite on the other end.
View the slideshow of historical fishing photos to see how far we’ve come.
Ancient Fishing Hooks
These fishing hooks are made from a shell and are estimated to be 40,000 years old. They were discovered in a cave off the north coast of Australia along with the bones of over 2,800 fish, including deep ocean fish such as Tuna.
The Heddon Frog – 1897
Hand carved in 1897 by James Heddon himself, the heddon frog is the most valuable antique fishing lure in the world. The frogs were given exclusively to honey distributors in Michigan and are worth nearly $30,000 a piece.
Civil War Soldiers – 1861-1865
Civil War soldiers stop to do some fishing in Louisiana.
Ice Fishing – 1920’s
A man doing some ice fishing in the 1920s.
Fishing during the Great Depression – Early 1930s
Three men geared up to do some fly fishing during the Great Depression. I doubt they were practicing catch and release!
George Perry’s World Record – 1932
George Perry poses with a replica of his world record largemouth bass. Caught in south Georgia in 1932, the bass weighed in at 22 pounds, 4 ounces. According to stories, the fish fed Perry’s family of six for two days.
The Signing of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act – 1933
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933. There was a great deal of controversy surrounding the act, but without the TVA we would not have any of the Tennessee River reservoirs that are such popular sport fishing destinations. This includes Kentucky Lake, Pickwick Lake, Lake Guntersville, and Lake Chickamauga just to name a few.
Columbia River Salmon Fishing – 1937
A man uses a net to catch Salmon at Celilo Falls on the Columbia river in 1937.
Ernest Hemingway – Late 1930s
Ernest Hemingway is known for great fishing quotes such as “Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for.” Here he poses with a nice catch of his in the late 1930s.
World War II Soldiers – 1942-1945
A World War II bomber crew enjoying some saltwater fishing in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The First Bass Boat – 1948
The design for the modern day bass boat is credited to Holmes Thurmond, who in 1948 designed a specialized fishing boat that would be more stable than the normal flat bottom boats. Because of its narrow body and pointed nose, the boat was called a “mosquito” or “Skeeter” for short. Skeeter Boats continues to be a leading bass boat manufacturer today.
President Eisenhower Fly Fishing – 1950s
President Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoying some fly fishing in the 1950s.
Kentucky Lake Postcard – 1958
A postcard featuring three men fishing out of a boat below Kentucky Dam in 1958.
Stringer of Walleye in Minnesota – 1965
Two men pose with a nice stringer of walleye caught at Gunflint Lake in Minnesota in 1965.
Blast Off at the First Bassmaster Classic – 1971
The classic was held at Lake Mead in Nevada and won by Bobby Murray of Hot Sprints, Arkansas. Murray took home $10,000 for the win.
Creme Lure Company Ad – 1969
Nick Creme created the first plastic worm in the late 1940s. This ad from 1969 announces the signing of Bill Dance to the pro-staff of Creme Lure Company.
The Sportsman’s Friend – 1970’s
In 1953 Harold Ensley started first prime time television show dedicated exclusively to hunting and fishing. The show ran non-stop for 48 years. For 21 of those 48 years, Ensley filmed a show every week, amounting to 1,104 live telecasts without a rerun.
Lowrance Little Green Box – 1980s
In 1957 Carl Lowrance invented the first consumer sonar unit which became known as “The little green box.” More than a million were sold from 1959-1984.
George H.W. Bush Fishing – 1986
President George H.W. Bush out for a saltwater trip in 1986.
Kevin VanDam – 1992
Kevin VanDam wins his first Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in 1992. At 22 years old, VanDam is the youngest angler to ever win the Angler of the Year title. Since then, he has won six more Angler of the Year titles for a total of seven, and is regarded as the greatest bass fisherman of all time.
The First Instant Millionaire – 2007
Scott Suggs becomes bass fishing’s first instant millionaire by winning the FLW Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in 2007.