"Work is for people/those who don’t know how to fish/golf” is a popular saying that has been printed on gift items such as T-shirts and posters. Both “fish” and “golf” version have been cited in print since at least 1987. “Work is for those who don’t know how to golf” was seen on a poster in March 1987; “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish” was seen on a bumper sticker in October 1987.
Another work/fishing saying is “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work.”
2 March 1987, Aberdeen (SD) American News, “Pollock dreams of future” by Sherry Fuller, pg. 1, col. 5:
A poster hangs in his office proclaiming: “Work is for those who don’t know how to golf.”
12 October 1987, The Times (Trenton, NJ), pg. A2, col. 1:
Bumper sticker on Chevy: “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.”
Google News Archive
4 May 1988, Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal, “Life creeping back into Eagle Ridge” by Forrest White, pg. D1, col. 5:
Inside the pro shop at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, a sticker is pasted to the back of the cash register, right beside the score cards.
21 August 1989, Toronto (Ontario) Star, “Good-time stafers get all the breaks” by George Gamester, pg. A2:
WORK IS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO PARTY.
Then there was the bumper sticker in rural Colorado: “Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.”
11 March 1990, Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel, “Lake Michigan charters using satellites to find fish” by Ron Leys:
Don Otto wears a cap that says “Work Is for People Who Don’t Know How to Fish.”
The Executive’s Book of Quotations
By Julia Vitullo-Martin and J. Robert Moskin
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
“Work is for people who don’t know how to play fish.”
Pillow in office of Paul A. Volcker, chairman, JD Wolfensohn and Company (New York Times, June 8, 1992)
New York (NY) Times
OUT OF ORDER; Handling Hooks, Lines and Sinkers
By DAVID BOUCHIER
Published: August 01, 1999
FISHING is America’s most popular sport. When I walk along the shore on a summer evening, the fishermen seem to be having a wonderfully restful time. No fish ever disturbs their tranquility, and many of them simply sleep. The bumper stickers on their cars say, ‘’Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.’’ This the kind of sport I could learn to love.