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The Ultimate Fishing Resource Guide

Fishing is probably one of the most popular hobbies around the world and is in fact, also considered a great way to bond with children, siblings, friends and, strangers. Moreover, there is something profoundly meditative about fishing. It allows one to reflect, think and spend time in silence without actually getting bored. Besides being an interesting hobby, fishing is a serious commercial business. According to the FAO, the total number of commercial fishermen and fish farmers is around 38 million. In addition, fish and fishing form an important part of the education field as well. Ichthyology is the science of studying fishes and enables us to understand fish species, anatomy, taxonomy, and habitat requirements. Learn more about the history of fishing, ichthyology, fish anatomy, taxonomy, angling associations as well as the best places for fishing.

History of Ichthyology and Fishing

Ichthyology or the science of studying fishes is a part of zoology. This science is believed to have been a part of human civilization since 1500 BC. However, if one passes over this period of which there is very little actual documentation, one arrives to about 335B.C- 80A.D when Aristotle did considerable work in this area. According to William Whewell in History of the Inductive Sciences from the Earliest to the Present, Aristotle created several books on the history, parts, generations and other facts concerning animals, including fish and has displayed such great knowledge and wisdom that his works are revered by naturalists even today.

Georges Cuvier in his epic work also credits Theophrastus, Ovid, Pliny, Oppian, Galen and others with valuable contributions to the study of fishes. The European Renaissance saw the published works of three great scientists, Belon, Rondelet, and Salviani followed by the work of George Margrave who studied the Brazilian fishes in the 17th century and Bontius who described the fishes of Batavia. Ray and Willoughby were, according to Whewell, the first to attempt to consolidate all the information available in their Historia Piscium. They were then followed by Linnaeus and the, Peter Artedi, a close friend and countryman of Linnaeus. Although Artedi’s manuscripts were published posthumously, his work was so great that it earned him the title of “Father of Ichthyology.”

In the modern era towards the beginning of the 19th century, Georges Cuvier of Paris and created a consolidated manuscript titled Histoire Naturelle des Poissons in 22 volumes, describing 4,514 species of fish of which 2311 were new. More recent and well-known ichthyologists include John James Aubudon, Louis Agassiz, Albert Gunther and David Starr Jordan. 

Fishing, on the other hand, has been a part of man’s life since the dawn of the Paleolithic period. Discoveries made by archaeologists confirm that early man used to fish for food and had tools and equipment to make the task easier. Fishing has been depicted in drawings, documents and tomb and cave scenes in Egypt, India, Greece and Rome.

Fish Taxonomy

According to Rebecca Stefoff in The Fish Classes, there are more than 28, 000 identified species of fish with new ones being discovered all the time. Taxonomy is the system or by which scientists or ichthyologists group together plants or animals that share common features. However, since the plant and animal world is highly variable, taxonomy cannot be a fixed system. Various ichthyologists have revised the taxonomy or classification of fish species several times and today, the classification as given by Linnaeus doesn’t really work well. At the same time though, most ichthyologists still use the hierarchy of categories and the two-part species name as given by Linnaeus. (The Fish Classes, Stefoff)

Taxonomy of fishes, today, includes classification according to Super Class or Supraclasses, Class, Order and Sub Class. It is hierarchical with the Phylum Chordata right at the top and Order Dipnoi which includes lungfishes right at the bottom. It includes Pteraspidomorphi or early jawless fish, super class Gnathostomata or jawed vertebrates, classes of Placodermi or extinct armoured fishes, Chondrichthyes or cartilaginous fish, Sarcopterygii or lobe-finned fish, super class Osteichthyes or bony fish and others.

 Here are more resources for different species of fishes.

  • Complete Classification of Fish: A detailed classification listing the different supraclasses, classes, orders and subclasses of fish. Also has detailed descriptions and pictures of the various species.
  • Fish Species: A detailed list of different species of fish, with links leading to photos, information on life history and other important details.
  • Marine Fish: A comprehensive database of marine fish, listed according to common name and leading to details on taxa, range, habitat and other details.
  • All About Fishes: Detailed information on different species of fish with links for images, movies and facts.
  • Ichthyology Made Easy: A detailed and informative database on anatomy, groups, identification keys, species and images for fish, especially sharks, stingrays, skates and sawfish. 

Fish Anatomy

The skeletal anatomy of a fish consists of the head, the body or axial, pectoral fin, pelvic fin and the tail or caudal. The head skeleton consists of the brain case or neurocranium, jaws or suspenorium and the branchial skeleton which consists of movable, joined bones that aid the respiration process and hold the gills. The axial skeleton includes the notochord, which in turn, has the basidorsals, interdorsals,basiventrals and interventrals wrapped around it. The caudal skeleton consists of paired hemal arches and median hemal spines. The muscular system consists of muscles for the tail and trunk made up of a series of muscle blocks known as myotomes, jaw muscles and fin muscles. The brain of the bony fish is divided into three sections – forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. The heart has two chambers – the atrium and the ventricle, and finally, there are the gill filaments allow the flow of oxygenated blood to the organs. Most bony fish have a stomach, which is a U- or V-shaped muscular tube. The esophagus is short and food absorption takes place in the intestine. 

  • Anatomy of a Fish: Information on the anatomy of fish, including information on terms and structures.
  • Fish Anatomy Diagrams: Easy-to-understand diagrammatic representation of a fish’s anatomy.
  • Skeletal Anatomy: Basic introduction to the skeletal anatomy of a fish with links leading to more detailed information on different sections.
  • Vascular Anatomy of the Gill: Detailed description of the vascular anatomy of the fish’s gills.
  • Fish Anatomy and Physiology: Complete information on the skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory system of fishes.

Fisheries and Economic Impact

According to statistics from Green, in 2006, the global production from fishing and aquaculture reached close to 144 million tonnes of which 92 million tonnes were caught by fishers from around the world, with China and Peru leading the list. Fisheries and aquaculture have great economic impact since they provide employment and revenue to nearly 44 million people. Moreover, the products of fisheries are an essential part of the diet of millions of people around the globe. Green states that humans consume more than three-quarters of the world’s fish production. 

  • Fisheries Facts: Detailed information on the role of fisheries, socio-economic impact and more.
  • Economic Impact of Fisheries: Comprehensive statistics on the economic role of fisheries.
  • U.S Fisheries Program: Details on the history and current fisheries programs in the United States.
  • Sustainable Fisheries: Information on the activities of various sustainable fisheries initiatives and programs. 
  • Impact of Fisheries: Offers a comprehensive look at the positive and negative impacts of fishery activities as well as possible solutions.

Fishing Licenses

Fishing Rules & Regulations

Angler Associations and Organizations 

Fishing Hot spots

  • Trout Fishing: Information on White River in Arkansas, which is the perfect place for trout and bass fishing.
  • Nevada Fishing Hot Spots: Find all the best fishing places in Nevada, with a helpful map and descriptions of places.
  • Fishing with Kids: How to enjoy fishing with children at Lake Erie, also known as, the “walleye capital of the world”.
  • Best Places for Fishing in Michigan: Known for salmon, perch, bass, trout, walleye and more, Michigan is a great place for fishing. Get information on maps, tips, seasons and more.
  • Ideal for Trout Fishing: Find out about the season dates and regulations for trout fishing in one of the best places, Yellowstone National Park.