AFTCO Guide to Fishing For Beginners
One of the positive trends of 2020 was that we noticed more and more people have become interested in fishing. In some cases, it has meant teaching a kid to fish for the first time, rekindling a passion you had at one point in your life or simply just getting started for the first time. We have compiled tips from top pros and inserted them below.
Know your State Regulations
First and foremost, a very important part of fishing in the US is having the proper licenses. License sales go to the states natural resources department and is put back into fishing in the forms of stocking programs, public boat ramp maintenance and fisheries research so there is no reason not to buy one to fish legally here. In fact, fishing without a license runs the risk of getting a large fine if caught.
Many states have free fishing days scattered throughout the year for people to try out fishing. Find your state free fishing days and plan your trip then to see what it is like before paying for a license. Once you have a license, another important at home task is to be familiar with your state’s regulations. Find out what species you may be able to catch, whether in freshwater or saltwater, and if you want to eat them after catching, make sure you know the legal sizes for each fish to keep. This also helps ensure you do not end the day with a large fine for keeping illegal fish.
Fishing Equipment for Beginners
Fishing Rods for Beginners
Good fishing rods for beginners are tough to choose mainly because it depends on what you plan to fish for. A great all-around rod is a rod in the 7-foot range. This can handle almost all freshwater fishing from panfish to bass, and in saltwater can handle many inshore species where you may live.
Fishing Reels for Beginners
A good fishing reel for beginners matches the rod you buy, but to match with the 7-foot rod, a 2500 or 25 size reel is best. The most important thing with fishing rods and reels will be something that feels comfortable to you. If buying fishing rods for kids or fishing reels for kids, a 7-foot rod may not be the best and a 5-foot rod may be.
For tips on how to cast a fishing rod, and bringing kids fishing for the first time, check out these freshwater fishing tips by MLF Bass Pro Josh Bertrand.
Other Fishing Essentials for Beginners
While rods, reels, line, and tackle are essential to any fishing trip there are other items you want to make sure you pack as well. Keeping items like scissors or clippers to cut line is also recommended and having a good pair of pliers to help with unhooking fish is something every angler needs to keep handy. Make safety a priority when fishing, whether from the bank or in a boat. Fish with a partner who can offer help in an emergency when possible. Use caution when handling sharp hooks and fish and carry a simple first aid kit to be prepared for any accidents. Wearing a Coast Guard approved personal approved flotation device or life vest when wading or in a boat is always recommended, and you may also want to consider having young anglers wear one when fishing from a dock as well. Lastly, sun protection has become a necessity among anglers in recent years. Making sure you wear sunscreen when the weather gets warmer is important and reapplying is essential. If you do not want to reapply or deal with lotions, sprays, and the smell all day, good sun protection shirts, sun protection gloves, and fishing face masks is the answer. Not only is protecting your body important, but your eyes as well. Make sure you have a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes on and off the water. UPF 50 capable shirts block 98% of the suns UV-A and UV-B ray, making it more protective than SPF 50 sunscreen.
Beginner Fishing Tips
Once you have your new rod and reel, it is time to go fishing! The biggest tip for fishing is practice, practice, practice. Whether you are “baiting and waiting” with live or frozen bait, or tossing the lure around in your local lakes, rivers or the coast, the best way to get better at casting and have more chance of catching fish is by getting out there. Josh Bertrand has more tips for freshwater fishing here, but if you are closer to the coast, similar tips apply. Here is a page with tips on saltwater fishing for beginners as well. If it is a child’s first time fishing, do not make it so important to catch fish. Although that will be icing on the cake, if they appreciate the time on the water as much as you do, they will be lifelong members of the fishing community. Teaching about nature, birds, insects, and the water is a great way to keep children engaged while waiting for that little nibble.
You may start fishing the bank in either freshwater and saltwater and it is the easiest way to get started but if you find yourself having trouble finding public water to fish, you can venture off the shore. Many lakes have rental boats to try your hand at accessing spots the bank fisherman can not access. Past that, if so inclined, a kayak is great vessel for fishing. There are many fishing kayaks out there and we are huge fans here of the Hobie Kayaks.
Practicing conservation and respecting our natural resources is something that AFTCO is very passionate about. Always practice the "pack in, pack out" method never leaving behind plastic containers or trash, including soft plastic baits and fishing line. Most of all try to have fun and enjoy your time on the water!