First-time fishers may think fishing is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll be able to get on the water and try your hand at catching fish this weekend with only a little gear, a fishing license, and the information in this book.
This article focuses on spin fishing, which involves attracting fish with a spinning reel and lures or live bait. It’s one of the simplest ways for new anglers to get outside with little investment, but fly-fishing, saltwater fishing, ice fishing, and other types of gear fishing that use different reels are all options that you might be interested in down the road.
Make sure you have a current fishing license for the state you’ll be fishing in before you go. Appointments are available for purchase online, at fishing shops, and on occasion at convenience stores. A day license is usually inexpensive (less than $20), but the exact price varies by state and residency, as nonresident fishing licenses are more expensive. On the other hand, annual permits are more cost-effective, costing between $30 and $150. You might even want to go again if nothing bad occurs the first time (don’t worry, the possibilities are slim).
What Should You Do Now?
It’s usually preferable to chat to a real person about where to fish because they’ll have the most up-to-date and detailed knowledge of local water. If you’re in a hurry, a crowdsourced fishing app like Fishbrain or the more data-heavy FishAngler can help you find nearby places. Lakes, in general, are a fantastic place to start fishing since they generally have a bank or pier to feel from and frequently contain a bigger number of hungry fish than rivers. Bass, panfish, and rainbow trout are commonly caught in lakes, but salmon and trout species such as rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout are virtually exclusively caught in rivers.
It’s critical to instill excellent fishing etiquette early in life—respect for other fishers, the fish you catch, and the environment. Don’t crowd an area where someone else is fishing: On the busiest waters, I try to allow other fishers at least 50 to 60 feet of space and a couple of hundred yards if there aren’t many people about. Keep no more fish than you can consume, and always practice leave-no-trace ethics. Make sure you know if the area you’re fishing is catch-and-release, artificial lures only (no live bait), or fly-fishing only. You can’t always rely on a sign to tell you this, so consult a local regulation book or the website of your state’s forestry agency for facts and closure updates.