Living

Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman  

Jonathan H. Kantor
58 votes 13 voters 14 items

Fishing is one of the oldest forms of finding food, but these days, it's developed into a highly competitive sport all around the world. If you're looking to break into fishing as a beginning angler, there's a lot you need to know if you're planning on going after Bass, Crappie, Trout, Walleye, or even if you want to go ice fishing, you still need to know the basics.

This list covers the absolute basics in terms of getting you ready for an upcoming fishing trip. Everything from putting a worm onto a hook to how to pull a heavy fish onto your boat is important, so read the tips below to get started. Several beginner fishermen get discouraged if they don't catch anything on their first time out but read over this list of fishing tips and you'll be better prepared than most!

And if you're a veteran angler, be sure to vote up the tips you think would be most helpful to beginners who are looking to get into fishing.

Know In Advance What You're Do... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman
Photo:  Benreis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0
1
Know In Advance What You're Doing With Your Catch

So, you've had a great day on the water, and your cooler is filled with fish... now what? That's not a question you need to be asking yourself at the end of your trip. You need to know what your plan is for anything you catch long before you cast your first line.

If you're just going out for fun and to hone your skills, you may opt to catch and release. This is a common practice, and it may even be required by law, depending on the species and size of the fish. You need to know what you're allowed to keep, how many you can have, and what size they need to be.

If your plan is to take home your catch and share it with friends, that's great, but you're going to need to know how to clean a fish. This involves several steps, but basically, you filet the flesh from the sides or you scale and gut the fish, remove the head (or keep it if that's your preference), and literally clean the meat on or off the bones. 

Like everything in life, there are tons of videos on YouTube that demonstrate how this is done. You need a special knife, a cutting board with a clip on the end, and a scaler (depending on your fish species).

Great tip?
Don't Leave A Mess Behind is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman
Photo:  Gerry & Bonni/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
2
Don't Leave A Mess Behind

When you go fishing, you're probably going to take along something to eat and drink, but another byproduct of fishing includes cut pieces of line, used weights and hooks, and even fish guts. The last thing you want to see when you get to your favorite fishing spot, be it off a dock or out in the water, is a nasty mess.

Don't leave a mess behind for someone to have to clean up. This includes organic waste like fish scales and your food leftovers. Some items can be thrown into the water, but others cannot. Never throw trash in the water, and before throwing food in, ask yourself if it's something the wildlife could or should eat.

Carry out whatever you carry in, and everyone's fishing trip will be a memorable one, but not for all the wrong reasons.

Great tip?
Learn And Practice Casting is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman
Photo:  vastateparksstaff/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
3
Learn And Practice Casting

Casting is one of the most important skills a fisherman has because it enables them to take control over where they want to fish. A skilled caster can flick the wrist and hit a tin can from 100 yards... Okay, that's probably a one in a million shot, but they can reasonably hit a target distance with a great deal of accuracy.

If you're new to casting, you're probably going to want to whip the hell out of your rod to try and get the hook as far from you as possible. This is rarely necessary, and, more often than not, it results in you slamming the lure into the water two feet in front of you.

Practice casting at home, in your yard, or if you don't have a yard, a parking lot will do in a pinch. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and don't cast with an exposed hook while practicing, or you are just inviting trouble. Use weights at the end of your line and keep at it.

You can find a plethora of videos on YouTube demonstrating casting, so you need to know what type of fishing you're doing. If it's fly fishing, it's best to have an expert teach you, but most other kinds of casting can be learned by watching and doing.

Great tip?
Get A Fishing License & Know T... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman
Photo:  © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
4
Get A Fishing License & Know The Local Rules & Regulations

Most places, unless it's your private land, require a fishing license, and they are regulated by the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife in each state.

Fishing licenses authorize you to fish, but they also put limits on you as well. You can get specific types of licenses related to types of fish, crabbing, freshwater, and/or saltwater. They usually aren't expensive, but if you're caught without one, you will face a hefty fine, so this is definitely your first step.

Many states grant free licenses to Active Duty and Retired members of the military. Find out what options are available in your state, and if you're looking to fish in another country, know the laws and acquire a license for your trip.

There are some conditions where a license isn't necessary, but this is usually limited to charter fishing boats. The people who charter the boat don't need to have individual licenses, as the charter's captain license is structured to cover anyone onboard.

Great tip?