You don’t have an MMO unless you have fishing. UO built that into my psyche.
WoW’s fishing had been the definition of a peaceful grind. It has rarely provided much tangible benefit, except for the fun and some minor cash generation for selling fish on the AH. Maxing actually fishing skill is a fraction of the effort to get the rest of the neat toys (read less than 1% of the time).
Legion brought a fishing artifact – Underlight Angler. It takes about ~3 hours to go through the necessary steps. It is so much easier to do with flying, as it gives quick access to Margoss (for special lures) and extremely fast access to fishing pools.
Once you have it, you leveling through catching more rare fish. Each one gives 50AP. I prefer Stormheim for this, as with the proper lure, the pool is 100% stable and you can pull out 20-30 fish. There are 3 tangible benefits to getting this artifact and filling out the slots. Walking on water, faster swimming/water breathing, and lower aggro radius while fishing. These benefits carry through into BfA.
There’s more you can get through if you want. There’s the friend model from MoP that has 6 people you can grind away. Further grind away for some more rare drops which allows you to collect material to exchange for toys/cosmetics. The friend grind really requires some groups to make due – except Margoss. That one is long.
You can also go back into MoP or WoD and acquire some useful equipment/mounts. You don’t really need a pole. Having a Water Strider (water walking) is extremely useful for leveling. A raft allows you to fish from pools while standing on the water. Pretty much essential if you really want to do some fishing.
BfA brings in some changes, and more of the original Vanilla format for fishing. It’s been a long while where there were ocean fish, then zone-based fish. It’s changing to faction fish (some alliance, some horde), and 2 global fish. The legion artifact still works, but the “port to nearest pool” won’t work. Which is really a dumb skill, since it has a 5m cooldown and fishing a pool takes about 2 minutes. I struggle to see how that ability could be abused. Anyhow, instead of being on the pole, you need to use a specific fish for this ability. The same fish is used for feasts – so it’s likely to go for 100g per fish on the AH. Who wants to pay 100g for a port that could be done in 10 seconds of walking?
Still, I look forward to getting back into the zen of fishing. It’s a great break from the go-go-go of regular MMOs. And who knows, maybe someday we’ll actually get to fish up something more fun than fish.