"A bad day (of) fishing is better than a good day of work” has been put on gift items (such as bumper stickers, T-shirts and signs) since at least 1986. “A bad day fishing is better than the best day at the office” has been cited in print since at least 1984.
A 1986 citation (below) claims that Sir Izaak Walton’s classic work, The Compleat Angler (1653), contains the line “A bad Daye fishing always beats a goode Daye of Worke,” but the saying does not appear in Walton’s book.
Another work/fishing saying is “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.”
The Quote Garden
Quotations about Fishing
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
1 July 1984, Springfield (MA) Sunday Republican, “Why fish don’t bite” by Frank Sousa, pg. D11, col. 3:
THE DAY WAS a success as well, as we understood that a bad day fishing is better than the best day at the office.
In The Compleat Angler (1653), Sir Izaak Walton theorized that “A bad Daye fishing always beats a goode Daye of Worke.”
The Michigan Natural Resources Magazine
The thought reminded him of a sign he’d seen taped to someone’s office wall: “A bad day of fishing beats a good day of work.”
They had gun racks in the rear windows and dog cages in the back and bumper stickers proclaiming such truths as “Flamin’ Harry’s Harley- Davidson, Hot American Steel” and “A Bad Day of Fishing Is Still Better than a Good Day of Work.
27 September 1986, The Cobb County Times (GA), “The Judds do love their work” by Jim Lewis (United Press International), pg. 8E, col. 2
Wynonna’s mom, Naomi Judd, piped in with one of her old sayings, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”
Google News Archive
16 April 1987, Record-Journal (Meriden, CT), “Angling action isn’t limited to trout opening day” by Mike Roberts, pg. D10, col. 6:
And for those who were not as successful during this “day of days” for fishermen, remember, “A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!”
Google News Archive
23 August 1987, Record-Journal (Meriden, CT), pg. D9, col. 4:
Some Long Island Sound advice this time of year is to spend a few fishing days ...
Battling the blues
Remember, a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work.
April 1989, Boys’ Life, pg. 22, col. 1:
Patrick stared at David for a minute and said, “Look at it this way, David, a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at school.”
31 May 1992, The State (Columbia, SC), “Looking for something to do? Go fish,” pg. 11C:
Bumper sticker philosophy says it all: “A bad day fishing is better than a good day working.”
New York (NY) Times
ATLANTA CITY; Storm? What Storm?
By BILL KENT
Published: August 30, 1998
His wife, Regina, likes the casinos, ‘’so I’ll probably take her to one of them a little later on,’’ Mr. Ford said. ‘’For me, bring on the peace, the quiet and the fish. The way I see it, even a bad day of fishing beats a good day of work, and this is turning into a good day.’’