"the art or practice of trying to catch fish," c. 1300, fysschynge, verbal noun from fish (v.). Figurative use from 1540s. The Old English noun was fiscað.
[O]f all diversions which ingenuity ever devised for the relief of idleness, fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man who is at once indolent and impatient. [Scott, "Waverly," 1814]
Fishing-boat is from 1732. Fishing rod (1550s) is older than fishing pole (1791). To "go fishing" is as old as Old English on fiscoð gan.
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