This article investigates an under-researched area in the tourism and leisure literatures, recreational freshwater fishing, which has become a significant cultural activity and a tourism industry in its own right. Within the last 30 years many destinations across the globe have developed fishing packages/products designed for the enthusiast able to afford the trip. Similarly, a new generation of tour operators has emerged in the West to offer a world of choice that was hardly imaginable a few decades ago. The article maps important developments in the modern history of fishing from a social constructionist viewpoint, examining how fishing, and by extension fishing tourism, enlists and promotes certain performative codes of practice and being, and how certain gazes on nature, destinations, fishing technologies, skills and quarry are produced and reproduced in very particular ideological ways. The article also considers the embodied nature and the materiality of fishing and fishing tourism and advances conceptual directions on how fishing leisure and tourism combine to produce an identifiable actor-network that is made up of sub-networks. Here, the analysis focuses on how the community of fish, anglers, technology, destinations and travel are held together to create a material–semiotic set of spatial practices and performances that are contested, impassioned and networked in relational space–time. The overall aim of the article is to offer a contextual and theoretical account of this important area of tourism and leisure and point to fruitful avenues for future research.