Know the Legal Limits
Ready to go? First, you’ll need a fishing license!
Your fishing license is one of the most important requirements before you head out to the water. Make sure you know the legal limits in your area.
Buying a fishing license is quick and directly contributes to conservation efforts. In most states, licenses can be purchased online, over the phone or at retail establishments.
Fisheries Law refers to state and federal legislation regarding the protection of endangered species and the protection of their habitats.
Environmental Awareness and Etiquette
Respecting the environment will make your fishing experience better.
Be sure to dispose of any litter and to take back all of your equipment once you have finished. This helps to maintain the land and makes for a more enjoyable and clean fishing session.
You must pay attention to the body of water and the particular habitat of your chosen fish.
Analyzing the area thoroughly will help you adapt your gear and technique accordingly to maximize your chances of a catch.
Even if you’ve been fishing for years, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of scoping out the environment if it is a new area for you. The more you practice this, the sooner you will be able to determine the most active fish-holding spots.
When it comes to environmental factors, the weather will influence your fishing experience. Typically, most fish prefer cool water over warm water.
During summer months, the fish will be swimming deeper. This means that you will have to adjust your depth to have any chance of a catch.
It’s also essential to factor in the wind and wind speed when fishing.
When the breeze is strong, baitfish will usually end up closer to the shore, which means bigger fish will follow in order to feed. Pay attention to drift lines, as they will take you to baitfish and, in turn, the big fish.
Gear for Freshwater Fishing
The arsenal for your fishing trip will be dependant on your surroundings!
Freshwater Gear Fishing Tips
Reel – This should be chosen by the type of fish you aim to catch.
Catfish – Spinner, heavy baitcaster
Bluegill – Crappie, Sunfish and other pan-fish – spinning reel.
Bass – Use a spinning reel or baitcaster depending on your preference.
Carp – Spinner
Tilapia – Spinners are good for versatility
Rod – Your rod should also be chosen depending on the type of fish you want to catch.
Longer pole – Panfish.
5-7ft pole – Bass and Tilapia.
Short pole – Heavy Cats and Carp.
Your line is also dependant on the fish you wish to catch. For example, 30lb braided test line is great for carp, cats, tilapia and big bass fish in big lakes. 12lb test line works great for most other bass fishing. Fluorocarbon line sinks faster than other types of line and for this reason, it is best used when you need to fish near the bottom of a body of water.
If you’re going after live game fish, use live bait or soft plastics. If you’re going after a scavenger use something that’s dead with a strong odor.
Lures – You will need to use different lures for game fish
Catfish – chicken fat, liver, corn, worms, and wood grubs.
Bass – soft plastics, lures, chicken fat, grubs, and live baits.
Pan Fish – bread balls, Berkley power baits, and small gigs.
Smaller hooks are harder for the fish to detect, easier to set, affected less by current, cast further and fit into the fish’s mouth much easier. The size of your bait should determine the right hook size.
Get accustomed to the various sunken or human-made areas of the lake or pond, where fish may choose to stay. Also, use the map to take note of the shallow and deeper sections of the water.
Temperature is crucial
Most freshwater fish gravitate towards cool temperatures, and if it is hot weather outside, they will swim to deeper areas where it is cooler. Find out what temperature is preferable to the type of fish you’re trying to catch, and when is the best time to catch them.
Keep any unwanted scents at bay
Make sure your hands, in particular, are kept clean, and there are no strong perfumes around the fishing area. The lack of salt in the water means the fishes’ already strong sense of smell is heightened, and they will detect any foreign scents around a bait or lure, which will repel them.
Consider the Creel Limit
The Creel Limit refers to the amount of fish or the size of fish that you are allowed to take from that body of water per day.
Tips for Saltwater Fishing
Again, the arsenal for your saltwater fishing trip is dependant upon the fish you hope to catch!
Saltwater fishing reels must be durable and corrosion-resistant. Spinning reels simplify casting because you can cast them a considerable distance without being affected by the wind. Choose a spinning reel that you can comfortably carry that should at the very least hold 100 yards. The best material to go for is aluminum because it helps to control the line’s moving when hauling in big fish.
Graphite and fiberglass rods are the most commonly used for saltwater fishing. Graphite rods cost more than fiberglass but they’re easier to use, last longer and they’re not as heavy. Regardless of the rod, ALWAYS wipe and rinse it after use to avoid saltwater corrosion.
Monofilament line will work great for beginners because they’re thin yet durable They’re easy to stretch, even if they’ve been on the reel for a while. Remember, even the best Monofilament lines wear down over time, consider replacing them every six months.
Snapper, Grouper, Cobia, and Tuna – Use Menhaden, mullet, eels, herring, sardines, ballyhoo and pilchards.
Sheepshead and Drum – Use Fiddler, blue crab, shrimp, sand fleas or lobster.
Striped Bass, Cod, Pollock, Flounder, Halibut and Mackerel – Use sea worms, sandworms, ragworms or lugworms.
Seabass, Croakers, Dolphin and Bluefish – Squid and Octopus
The best hooks for saltwater fishing are constructed from high carbon steel and stainless steel. The smaller the fish mouth, the smaller the hook and vice versa. The most commonly used hook sizes range from 8 to 14.
While it’s likely that you’ll find bigger fish in saltwater, freshwater is often more accessible, and the smaller size makes it easier to locate a catch. Both bodies of water have their advantages, but it is worth considering these tips in order to get the most out of them.
Natural VS Artificial Bait
You need to use bait or an artificial lure to tempt fish to your line.
To decide whether to go lure or bait fishing depends on the type of fish you want to catch, and the time of year you’re fishing.
Here are several tips to help you decide which type of fishing will work best for you:
Remember, when you’re using plastic baits, such as worms or craws, don’t jerk when you’re casting. Jerking causes the bait to move position from the strike zone and will affect your chances of catching the fish.
To help you decipher whether there is a bite, grip the rod steadily and use slight tension to determine a pulsation against the bait. Once you feel this, then you know it is the right time to jerk.
Practice certainly makes perfect when it comes to casting, and once you have mastered this technique, you can start to develop more intricate skills.
There are typically seven main types of artificial fishing lures: spinners, jigs, spoons, plugs, soft plastic baits, flies, and spinnerbaits.
When you’re learning to fish, it can be daunting to understand the various types and their key differences.
If you’re a beginner, never use lures that you’re afraid to lose. If you use an expensive lure that you’re worried about losing, you’ll be reluctant to put them in the risky areas with the best fish.
Remember – cheap lures fished in the best areas work much better than expensive lures fished in “safe zones”.
Give yourself time to get used to them and don’t be afraid to try a new type of lure out, as this will push you out of your comfort zone. Try using a multi-purpose lure to attract more than one type of fish.
It is widely agreed amongst professional anglers that cheap lures used in thriving, challenging zones will improve your overall technique far more than expensive lures that you only feel comfortable using in safe areas.
Getting to grips with a new lure can be daunting, but it will significantly improve your confidence once you get used to it.
Trying to get used to a new lure? Here’s a tip;
Use the lure every time you go fishing. That way, you’ll have no other option but to alter your technique in order to catch a fish.
Color plays a significant role in determining the most suitable bait.
In shallow covered areas, such as in clumps of grass, it is advisable to use bait with a red or pink head, along with a crankbait with red hooks.
Red and pink colors cause the fish to think the bait is injured, which makes them bite it.
In addition to using the correct color, your bait should also be an imitation of what the fish is eating, if you don’t use the food itself.
Aim to use baits that are the same size as what the fish would be looking for, and make sure they look like they are found naturally in that body of water.
Different baits attract different kinds of fish. Examples of live bait include crickets, worms, and leeches. Worms are typically a suitable bait for many types of freshwater fish.
Natural bait will be more difficult to obtain than artificial lures, and you will likely have to catch your bait at some point, which can be a dirty process.
Struggling to find bait may prevent you from catching certain kinds of fish, so this is worth bearing in mind.
A change of season can also affect what kind of live bait certain fish prefer.
For example, Bass typically prefer crawfish earlier in the year, and shad in the summer and fall seasons, so adjust your color accordingly if using artificial bait.
It is also worth noting that live bait can’t be used again to keep catching fish, unlike lures, but it’s likely that you will always catch something when using the correct bait.
While live bait will undoubtedly work best, artificial bait can be just as good if used correctly.
Artificial lures are often an easier choice, as live bait can be hard to find and can be swept away by currents.
However, artificial lures may be more difficult for beginners, as you will need to be comfortable casting and retrieving to get the most out of them.
Knots are important for every angler. Not sure how to tie them? Click here for our guide on fishing knots.
If you struggle to get to grips with the various kinds of fishing knots, one of the best tips to reduce this confusion is to focus on using the right knot for your line. For example, with a braided line, it is recommended to use what’s known as a ‘Palomar knot.’
However, this knot would be the worst kind you can tie with fluorocarbon lines, as it is prone to breaking, so you should instead use an improved clinch knot.
When using a monofilament line, either of those knots would work well.
Getting the right knot may seem like a trial and error process, but by researching beforehand, you can ease the difficulty of trying to get the perfect knot.
Body of Water
The species of fish varies from freshwater to saltwater.
Deciding on which species you want to catch will highlight whether you should fish in the ocean, a lake, a pond, or a river.
Some fish swim in both freshwater and saltwater, such as salmon. However, this is not true of most fish.
First things first – ALWAYS dress correctly!
When fishing in cold weather, you should dress in layers. Your first layer should be a t-shirt and pants. Your second layer should provide insulation like a long sleeve shirt. Your third layer could be a jacket, or a hoodie and your outerwear should consist of a raincoat, poncho, and waders.
When fishing in the heat and sun I recommend you wear shorts or light pants and a t-shirt so you are comfortable, it’s a good point to note that when fishing in the sun you should always wear sunscreen. Sunglasses are another tool to have in your kit to protect your eyes from the sun.
Take Your Time to Master the Basics
While it is tempting to dive straight into catching big fish and testing out sophisticated fishing techniques, an important tip I would recommend following is to take your time.
Before you can start catching big fish and rare species, a great piece of advice would be to focus on getting that first bite, regardless of the fish’s size. It may not sound impressive to make your first catch a small one, but you will improve much more in the long run if you take the time to appreciate every bite you get at the beginning of your journey and learn from them.
Ask yourself reflective questions after each bite, thinking about whereabouts the fish was, how you moved the lure or bait, and how deep it was. This will help you to consciously think about your positioning and placement, therefore improving your skills far more than if you were to carelessly start throwing big swimbaits.
Take your time during each fishing session too. While you might start off making a great cast, if you move too quickly into making the next one, you’ll likely rush into a spot rather than carefully choose the best possible area to fish in.
Focus on the intricate details of your placement and positioning at the start, and it’s likely you’ll progress at a quicker rate than if you rush your decisions in an attempt to make the biggest and fanciest catch.
Lastly, learn how to cast correctly. The sooner you can cast a spinning reel and a baitcaster accurately, the sooner you will be able to start catching high-quality fish.
Casting with a spinning reel is simple and easy.
Begin with roughly six inches of line out the end of your rod and hold the reel below your dominant hand.
Spinning reels use a bail (a thin wire arm) to prevent your line from coming out of the spool.
To cast, flip the bail, hold the line with your finger and bring the rod tip up and slightly behind you. Then, cast forward using your wrist and elbow.
Once your rod is vertical, release the line to send your lure flying. Once your lure is in the water, flip the bail over and begin reeling.
If you’re a beginner angler, you’ll have a tough time distinguishing between a bite and a snag. This will result in the bait moving away from your strike zone.
If you’re trying to determine a bite, hold the rod steady with a little tension to see if there’s pulsation. Feel a pulse, if so then crank the reel.
Bass will usually hold on to the bait for a few seconds, this will be enough time to figure it’s a fish or snag.
Holding the rod tip up and learning not to jerk the rod when you’re cranking is a fantastic beginner skill.
One of the ways beginners lose fish is because their line goes slack due to holding the rod tip down during cranking.
The Double Haul Technique
If you’re an experienced angler, try to learn the double haul technique. Without it, you’re limiting the number of fishing situations you can experience.
The double haul allows for casting long distances and deals with wind effectively. Hauling has a massive effect on loop control and since loop control is the key to good fly-casting, learning to haul properly is important.
Apply the haul when the rod is bending under a heavy load caused by the weight of the line and the movement of the rod during the stroke. The line will pull on the rod during a casting stroke which will cause it to bend.
When the rod is suddenly stopped at the end of a stroke the rod will unload and transfer the energy from the rod load to the line, forming the loop.
You should try to get into the habit of stopping halfway when you cast. This technique ensures that the lure will strike the surface of the water a few feet before the target so that the lure skips across the water, which will help you if you need to fish under structures or docks.
While fishing can seem confusing at first, hopefully, you now feel armed with the knowledge to improve your angling experience and make the most of your time spent fishing.
These fishing tips highlight the most crucial areas of fishing that you should focus on if you want to be a successful angler, and I hope you found it useful.
If you have any feedback or other fishing tips you would like to share, please comment below and let us know your ideas. We are always looking to offer you the best insight and advice, so please contact us if you have any suggestions for topics.
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