"Phishing" is a variant of "fishing," following the pattern of words like "phreaking" (a portmanteau of "phone" and "freaking"... wow, that takes me back to old issues of 2600). Hmm... I suddenly have a hankering to look at pictures of phones from around the world.
On the other hand, perhaps it's simply another example of all the misspellings that script kiddies enjoy... haxoring, leet, teh, etc. Horrendous.
Origins of the Word "Phishing" The word "phishing" comes from the analogy that Internet scammers are using email lures to "fish" for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet users. The term was coined in the 1996 timeframe by hackers who were stealing America On-Line accounts by scamming passwords from unsuspecting AOL users. The first mention on the Internet of phishing is on the alt.2600 hacker newsgroup in January 1996, however the term may have been used even earlier in the printed edition of the hacker newsletter "2600".