If you want to live off the land, then knowing how to fish is one of the vital skills that you’ll need to have out there. If you’ve never cast a line out and reeled in your dinner before, then you might not be sure where to start. While starting is relatively easy, it can take a little time and a little luck before you’re reeling in the big ones. For the complete beginner, we’ve got some tips that will turn you into an experienced angler in no time.
Get The Right Gear
Before you head out to the local lake, river, or pier, you need to get yourself the proper fishing gear. Now for a first timer, we suggest keeping things simple until you get the hang of it.
- You’ll need a fishing pole, and that can be made of graphite, cane or fiberglass.
- You’ll need some monofilament fishing line (for fresh water, 6 or 8-pound test and for salt water, 10 or 12-pound test)
- Get some fish hooks (for small bait, size 2 and for large bait, size 3)
- Get some plastic bobbers and some BB size split shot sinkers
- Put everything but the pole in a small tackle box that has some divider trays to keep it all organized
That’s all the basic gear that you need when you’re just starting out. Over time, you may want to add in a fishing net and other items, but for now this should serve you well for someone who is just learning how to fish.
Get Some Bait
You gotta put some bait on those hooks to get the fishes to bite. While you can use artificial bait, we suggest that you go with live bait since it seems to work better. You can catch your own bait or buy it from local bait shops, which are near most any fishing spot. Of course, we suggest that you get used to catching your own bait so you don’t have to depend on anyone else for it. Here’s some of the things you can use for bait:
- night crawlers
- crayfish (of course, you could also just cook these up and eat them!)
- shrimp (for salt water fish)
- cheese or kernel corn (for trout)
Over time, you’ll learn what types of bait attract each type of fish and then you can tailor your bait based on the type of fish that you’re trying to catch for the day.
Get Your Fishing Pole Ready
Now that you’ve got all of your gear, it’s time to get that fishing pole ready to catch some fish. First, you need to get the fishing line on it. So, measure out some line that is around a foot longer than the length of your fishing pole and cut that off your spool of fishing line. You gotta wrap one end of that around the tip of your fishing pole and sure to tie ti up real tight.
Now, you need to add a hook to that line, but it needs to be one that is a good match for your bait. As previously mentioned, you’ll want something like 3/0 for long worms and 1/0 for small shrimp. Once you have a hook selected, you need to put it on the other end of the fishing line and securely tie it with a good fishing knot, like the palomar knot. Before pull that knot tight, be sure to wet the line. It is very important that you have a good, tight knot otherwise you might end up losing a fish once you hook it.
Try To Catch Your First Fish
Bobber fishing is the best way to ease into this sport. So, head to your local fishing pier or rocky shoreline (if you live near salt water), or to a local pond, river or lake to prepare to catch some fish. You’ll want to put the bait on the hook and then attach a bobber about two feet up the line from it. If the fish end up being deeper in the water, then you’ll have to move the bobber further up the line.
Now you’re ready to just extend your pole out over the water horizontally. You don’t have to try to cast it out real far like you see fishermen on TV doing. For your first run, just extend it out and lower it until the bobber sits at the top of the water surface. Now comes the hard part – you gotta keep that fishing pole horizontal and still and just wait for a fish to come along and bite.
It can take several minutes for a fish to come along and nibble at the bait. Once this starts to happen, you will notice the bobber start to move a little. Don’t make any sudden movements just yet! But get ready – cause once you see that bobber go completely under the water, this is when you strike! Raise your pole quickly up out of the water to set the hook in the mouth of the fish.
You Got Your First Fish!
Once you get the fish to shore, it’s time to remove the hook from it. Since most fish don’t have teeth, the only thing you need to worry about are spiny fins that can cut your hands. So, carefully grasp the fish behind the head by wrapping your hand around it. Be sure that your grip is firm because it will squirm and can fall right out of your hands.
Now, some people will remove the hook with their bare hands, but we suggest using some needle nose pliers to work it out until you get the hang of it. Otherwise, you just might end up hooking your hand, which is very painful!
You now either need to put the fish on ice or keep it alive in some water until you can get to cleaning and cooking it up. If you’re using ice, then remember to leave the drain plug open in your cooler so that water will leave it as the ice melts. This is important because water ruins the flavor of the fish.
While these are just the bare bones basics of learning how to fish, this is really all you need to get started catching your down dinner. As you get more comfortable with the activity, you can move on to better gear and learn more about casting and such.