While his friends and fellow American impressionists Hassam and Twachtman traveled widely and painted landscapes of a variety of locations, Weir stayed close to home in the last three decades of his career. In addition to cherishing the companionship of his family, Weir enjoyed visits by friends and was a generous and amiable host.
The Fishing Party depicts a group enjoying an outing on a bright summer day. As Duncan Phillips described it in a 1922 essay on Weir for the Century Association, "The sun under which we stand seems to silver the ferny foreground, the sky so subtly modulated in key from the horizon up, and in the distant woods beyond the open fields across a little bridge pass the white-clad figures of friends going a-fishing. If one only could hear the hum of insect life and of incidental, unimportant human voices, the sensation of any sunny summer day on a farm would be complete."
Despite Weir’s title, fishing is secondary to the landscape and the lighthearted mood, and the figures are small and indistinct—a mere blur of festive summer clothing and fishing poles seen off in the distance. Phillips also wrote in his 1922 essay that Weir’s paintings were "…not for the sportsman. He was fond of telling stories, but not on canvas. I do not remember a single story-telling picture from his hand." Phillips was right, because even as an art student in Paris in the 1870s, Weir rarely incorporated anecdote or narrative in his works. The influence of impressionism in the 1890s reinforced his already essentially non-narrative approach.