Fishing is a great way to get outdoors and my personal favorite outdoor activity. however, it can be a double edged word. If you catch fish it is fun, but if you don't it can be a boring affair. Fishing is a good way to lure your children away from their video games and actually spend some good quality time with them.
However, not everyone learned how to fish as a child. Maybe you didn't know how and your parents wouldn't take you as a child, maybe your parents didn't even know how. Fishing is surprisingly easy once you learn what the basics are then you can branch out into more advance fishing techniques.
For this guide, I will primarily talk about freshwater shore fishing, which is the best place to start. You can also use shore fishing techniques in a boat, but there are several other techniques boat fishers use. I recommend starting with shore fishing first for safety reasons. If you are a new fisherman, they you probably do not have a lot of pole casting experience. You know those movies where the person goes to cast and then hooks their buddy through the lip with the hook? Yeah, it is not so funny when it happens in real life and it does happen more than people think.
What You Need
When starting to fish there are a few things you need to get before you set aside a day or a weekend.
- Fishing Equipment
- Fishing License
- Area Angling Guide
Before anything else, you should get a fishing license. Occasionally a Fish and Game official might cruise on up in a boat and ask to see it, just so he knows that you are indeed licensed to fish. Other than that, it is pretty much just a piece of paper. You can buy these at Walmart in someplace and at your local City Hall building. You can also buy it online from the Fish and Wildlife Commission websites in some states. Note that you will need a different license per state, so keep that in mind. These usually run about $20 for a whole year, however you can buy guest passes to fish in different states for less.
When getting you fishing license, they should have a copy of your local angling guide around somewhere. You do not need to buy it, but you should at least flip through it. Some areas have limits on how many fish you can catch and how big they have to be to keep them. When the Fish and Game guy comes to check out your license, they may also look at your catch to see if you are following these guidelines. These are to prevent overfishing in your area, and should be followed. Leave them baby fish alone for later.
When starting to fish, you should keep your equipment fairly simple. You can go out and buy yourself a cane, fiberglass, or graphite pole. I recommend graphite because it is the most durable pole just in case you do happen to reel in some kind of river monster. Make sure that the pole is a comfortable fit for you, not to heavy or too long. Give it some fake casts just to make sure.
For fishing line, an 8 pound test is appropriate for freshwater. You won't need anything stronger until you go after bigger fish.
Get a couple of plastic bobbers, some split shot sinkers (around the size of BBs), and a few size 2 hooks. Divide these into a tackle box and you are set for basic fishing equipment. if you have no idea what I am talking about, the picture above is everything I just mentioned.
You can dig up your own bait, but it is simpler to just go to a bait shop. Near any popular fishing spot or lake, there is always some kind of bait shop you can visit. For fist timers I recommend getting night crawlers or minnows. If the thought of touching or hooking either of those bothers you, go for crickets, but they tend to hop away, so you have to watch that.
Some fish you do not even need live bait. If you are fishing for catfish, they will eat anything like stink bait or even little bits of soap. Trout will eat bits of cheese or corn. Some fish prefer different things, but I still recommend worms and minnows as those are universal baits.
Trying Your Hook
You may think a simple knot to tie your hook to your fishing line will be enough, but it isn't. The problem with fishing line is that it slips. Simple knots will slip. Like a lot of fisherman say, "Bad knots lose good fish."
Above is the knot I learned to tie on lures and hooks with. I would love to tell you what it is called, but I had never thought to ask. Remember when tying your knot to dip it in water first to make a good slip proof and strong knot.
Now just add your bait to the hook and you are ready to fish. Make sure you bait your hook so that as much as the bait has a hook through it as you can. You do not want fish getting a free meal by just nibbling off the bits not on the hook.
The biggest key to fishing is patience. You are not going to drop your line un and instantly get a fish. It takes time. The best time to bobber fish is in the early morning or in the evening. Since this is when the fish come in to feed. During the heat of the way they go into deeper waters where it is cool, or they hang out by trees where it is shady. Since we are using a bobber technique, you will not want to fish in choppy water as you won't be able to see your bobber move. When your bobber dips into the water or shakes, you have a nibble!
When you have a nibble, gently pick up your pole, when you see the bobber dip under the water, quickly jerk your pole up. Hopefully, you will hook your fish with that jerking motion.
If it didn't, let it sit for a few minutes, if the fish does not come back, reel in your line and check your bait to make sure it is still there.
When you do catch a fish, now you reel it in with your line pulled up high into the air so the fish does not get it snagged on things. The best way to handle a fish is to hook your fingers under its gills, that is the safest way for the fish, but I even have used with doing it. I suggest putting on a glove and just holding the fish. Make sure to smooth the fin on its back down before grabbing them so as to not injure it.
With a pair of pliers, get the hook and remove it from the fish lip as quickly as you can. Now you can keep the fish or toss it back.