Fishing - by Niami
Fishing is the easiest trade skill to master and the quickest one to turn a profit. It also has the added benefit of being a cheap trade skill you can avoid spending training points on, and still keep your profit margin in the manageable ranges.
Fishing can keep you fed. At low levels, fishing can earn you coins enough to buy those spells or supplies you need in order to practice your more difficult/costly trade skills. For those who don't like /gems, it also gives you something to do when you're recovering mana/health, practicing spell skills, etc. Later in life, fishing will also have a better chance of netting you special items that are needed in other tradeskills (such as tanning and temper agents for tailoring and smithing, special fish for baking exotic dishes, fish that can be turned into eggs and scales for a quest, etc.).
What do you need in order to fish? A fishing pole, some bait, some open inventory spots in order to transport your booty to the nearest shopkeeper, and a stream/river/lake or ocean to fish in. The pole will cost you over 2 gold, and it can/will break on you at some point, so be prepared for the need to replace it. The bait will cost you a few copper per bait, and you'll need at least one bait per fish you hope to catch. You can also use fishing lures to catch fish, but while they enhance your ability to catch fish, they will cost you added money.
As mentioned briefly above, you can net yourself some special fish. As with real life fishing, however, you have to know where to find those special fish, as they each have their favorite spots to swim. The fish by zone listing can help you know which zones have special fish in them. Some of these fish will be worth more coin than fresh fish, others will be sought after by tradesfolk for various reasons.
Make sure when you are trying to fish that your pole is held in your primary weapon hand, that you're standing/sitting at the edge of the water, and facing the water. (You can also meditate while fishing, as long as you've equipped the pole in advance, and are sitting on the shoreline.) Then just cast your line and wait for the fish to bite. Cast. Wait. Cast. Wait. Eventually, you should catch... something. Yep, that's right. There's more than just fish available in the water. You can sometimes find fish scales and other oddities snagged on your hook. Don't throw them away, as you can sell them to any (NPC) merchant to add to your slowly growing profits. (The most common nonfish items you will catch are tattered sandals, rusty daggers, and fish scales.) As you continue to fish, your fishing skill should improve... to a point. The fishing skill is level capped (level times 5 plus 5), so there's only so far it will improve, especially if you're low level.
When I had a couple hours of fishing under my belt, and about 20 ranks in fishing, I made a profit of over 6 gold in half an hour. It's still a very slow way to make money, but it's relaxing and if you're truly a broke newbie, it's a great way to earn some money. When you're a spellcaster just learning how to meditate, it can be relaxing and profitable to plant yourself next to a safe body of water, spellcast your mana down to 0, and fish while meditating.
When you're done fishing for the day, stow that fishing pole and some bait (or some extra coins) in the bank. You never know when you're going to end up with your corpse on one continent, and yourself on another continent with no gear, and no way to get to your corpse without food and money. Being able to run to the bank and fish your way into food and coins can make all the difference in the world. (On more developed servers, fishing for your food gives you something to do while you're waiting for your res, tp back to your corpse, etc.)
Just DO remember to stow that fishing pole and re-equip your weapon before you go wandering. As I can attest, from personal experience, trying to attack a monster with a fishing pole does little... other than cause folks to laugh at you. I know of no monster yet that has been clubbed to death with a fishing pole...