Fishing 101: The Best Tips For The Beginner Fisherman
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.
- Photo: Gerry & Bonni / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.018 VOTES
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.
- Photo: vastateparksstaff / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.027 VOTES
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.
- Photo: Hillebrand Steve / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain36 VOTES
Ask The Locals For Good Places To Fish In The Area
The absolute best resource on any fishing trip is your locals, and there's even a television show based on this fundamental rule. The people who have lived and fished in the waters you're planning on hitting are the best people to ask about everything from bait to special spots.
Don't be shy about asking what's been getting the most hits at the bait shop either. The people who sell you everything from worms to crickets and minnows to shiners know what works, and they won't sell you a lot of bunk in order to boost the sale either. It's in their best interest to keep their customers happy, so they are free with any advice about the area that will help put fish in your bucket.
If you have the means, you should also consider hiring a local guide or charter. This is the easiest way to learn fishing, as they will teach you what you don't already know. They will also take you to the spots that they know to have the most catches because, like the bait shop workers, they want to keep you happy with some fish.
- Photo: Moise Nicu / WIkimedia Commons / CC BY 3.046 VOTES
Know What Is The Best Time To Fish In Your Area
Fishing is all about timing, and you need to know the best times to fish in your area. This will relate to the season, the types of fish you're going after, and they type of water they're in. Fishing for salmon is all about knowing when spawning season is while freshwater fishing for bass is more of an issue related to when they are most actively feeding.
A fish that isn't hungry will sit and stare at your bait as it dies without ever striking it but head to that same spot a little earlier, and you can nab that same fish. It's really just a matter of making sure you're out and about when the fish are, and the best way to get the best time to strike is by asking the locals when and where you buy your bait.
If you're not getting bait, and instead plan on using only lures, you should still check with the locals to see what times are best for the area. Most folks are glad to help a fellow angler, and offer up some advice.
- Photo: Benreis / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0512 VOTES
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).
- Photo: PsaRas ras / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.065 VOTES
Learn And Practice Tying Knots
One of the absolute basic skills every fisherman needs to master is the tying of knots. In fishing, there is a specific knot designed to keep the hook and whatever unfortunate fish stuck to it on the end of a very long, thin line.
If you are using a fluorocarbon line, you want to practice and master the improved clinch knot, but a braided line requires a Palomar knot. If you are using a monofilament line, you can use either of the two.
The best way to learn is to practice, but it helps to watch others do it. You can find videos on YouTube showing exactly how each knot is tied.
This is incredibly important since a loose knot can result in the loss of an expensive/favorite lure, but most importantly, you can lose a beautiful fish as well.