Although it already existed in Greek and Roman times and even earlier (for example in Ancient Egypt and China), what we today call recreational fishing (as opposed to fishing as a vocation) first became widespread in Medieval Europe.
The earliest known written records on the subject come down to us from the French scholar Guido de Bazoches and date to the twelfth century.
Recreational fishing is a pleasant way to spend one’s leisure time.
The goal of the angler relates not so much to the quantity of fish caught as it does to its quality. This is determined by – among other things – the many regulations which restrict fishing activities, such as delimited fishing grounds, seasonal bans on fishing certain species, bans on the use of specific instruments and techniques, and limits on the number of devices that can be used.
The main weapons in the recreational angler’s armoury are the rod and line. The most types of bait most commonly used in river fishing are the common earthworm and the larvae of aquatic insects.
Artificial bait created to imitate the natural food sources of fish is also very commonly used. Examples include the spoon-bait used to catch large predatory fish, which glints as if it were a fleeing minnow. With artificial maggots the “yo-yo” fishing technique is used, with the line rising and falling in the water.
Switzerland counts around 140,000 recreational anglers, each of whom pays for a permit or fishing rights. In certain cantons, revenues from these taxes are completely reinvested in the sector, for instance to cover the costs of purchasing and raising fry and young fish or those relating to operating fish farming facilities, or to pay fishing wardens’ wages.
Fishing with a line exists in principle as an ancient right along the shores of the major lakes. If one adds anglers who fish without a permit to anglers with a permit, the total number of people who go fishing rises to around 250,000.
Many anglers are members of one of the many local or regional fishing clubs. Often these clubs have sufficient means to manage the river or waterway assigned to them or leased by them. They make sure that enough young fish are released into them every year so that there is always a sufficient number of fish to be caught.