What do you need to go fishing? Just fishing? Well, that can be so different depending on where you are from, and the environment in which you now live. I cannot tell you what you might need at the North Pole, nor can I give advice on the middle of the ocean; these would be places where a specialized technique might be required.
However, I can hopefully help guide you to giving a local creek, pond, or lake a try – pretty much regardless of species. Maybe with these few items, you will find something. Let me share how easy it was for me as a small boy in Tennessee.
When we moved here (Tennessee from Alaska), my dad had this giant tackle box filled with Daredevils (thought it was a cool name back then), all kinds of spinners, some big clanging metal baits and other items that I still cannot tell you what they were; but all geared toward fishing in Alaska. Then, scattered in this box, among the jars of salmon eggs, I also found a couple of spinnerbaits and a few small crankbaits. I borrowed these, along with some hooks, and took them down to a pond that was on someone’s land behind our house.
I learned that I could also flip cow patties (piles of cow manure dropped by live cows) and get worms that allowed me to catch bluegill. Some neighbors brought home some minnows from a trip and gave them to a couple of us in the neighborhood. I found the pond had crappie with those minnows… but the greatest gift that came from the pond, other than the experience of exploring and learning on my own, was when I found a chunk of metal with a blade on it. My first buzzbait! Then when I learned how to use that… wow…
I know that not everyone has that big ‘ole tackle box to dig through. So, I am going to help you with 10 things that will help you, or your kids, get into fishing. I am going to assume that you know little to nothing about fishing and keep it very basic.
Fishing Item #1: A Fishing License
Let’s start with legalities. Unless you are fishing your own land, or have not reached a certain age (based on the state’s laws), you will need to purchase a fishing license.
I was fishing with my 4-year-old daughter, casting and letting her reel it in, and “we” caught a fish. The next thing I heard was a voice asking for my license. I handed it to him, it had expired the day before. I told him I would run and get one, that I was just teaching my daughter about fishing… he said no… $150 later, I had learned to make sure I had a valid license.
Fishing Item #2: Rod and Reel
Again, I am making suggestions based on the assumption that you know little to nothing about what to get to start fishing; you are uncertain how much you might fish, or if you will even like it. This is a two-part conversation to me:
For Young Kids:
When you get to the store, and they are very young, they are going to want that Spider-Man, Barbie, or Sponge-Bob set with some sunglasses and all. Experience has taught me that you can save yourself some money and aggravation by steering them toward something else if you really plan to try fishing. These sets are not the best options and you would be better served with something like a Zebco Dock Demon or a similar setup.
I picked up a spinning reel for my two-year-old grandson, and he was casting it like a champ in a few days. Now, you had to duck a bit because he lacked some accuracy – but he was learning.
For The Rest:
Same for you, don’t go with the Barbie setup. Also, I would strongly suggest you do not go straight to a bait caster; it might create frustration that ends your fishing career early – unless you are very adventurous. You can get a solid combo in the thirty to forty dollar range to allow you to test your interest. I have caught 6-pound bass on these setups, so don’t feel like you are cheating yourself with a less expensive choice. I fished with a cheap rod for twenty years and changed out reels; until I started competitive fishing, then I changed to a better rod.
It will not take you long to decide if you need to invest in a better setup; you will know when it is time.
Fishing Item #3: Terminal Tackle
Pick up some hooks, floats, and sinkers. You can spend hours looking at the walls of gear, or you can pick up a set like the Tailored Tackle Fishing Kit 147 Pc of Gear Tackle Box. These items will allow you to catch bluegill, crappie, catfish, trout; just about anything in the right conditions and location.
Fishing Item #4: Bait
Worms, minnows, crickets, corn… artificial baits like the Berkley brand… or chicken livers and shrimp.
Worms are a staple for fishing. They will catch about anything and can be purchased, or dug out of the ground (like I said earlier, under cow poop or old logs – look under the pans below the downspouts on your house).
Crickets can be caught and are great for bluegill/bream. Minnows can be trapped or purchased and will catch just about everything too.
Chicken livers or day-old shrimp are perfect for targeting catfish. The corn, in case you have trout locally, they love it… and it will also catch bream.
Fishing Item #5: Lures
In the beginning, I will suggest you keep it very simple or you will end up with a wall of lures and plastics that you never use, and cannot give away – not saying I have that now, but I may know someone.
The absolute best lure I have found and will tie on with every beginner I take out on the water (and used at Logan Martin this year in a tournament); a small spinner with a lead head. It will catch almost anything and can be used anywhere.
Buy these two things:
Some Arkie Jig Spinners and some 1/8 ounce jig heads; intended for crappie fishing locally. These can be tipped with so many choices. I tell everyone I win local tournaments with (peanut butter and jelly) crappie jigs… they don’t know how honest I was being.
Fishing Item #6: Location
This can get you into fish, or in trouble. I say the latter because I have found a spot (when younger) and crossed private land to fish private ponds, only to be run out. So, I suggest you do a bit of research to make sure it is public. Some landowners will allow access; make sure to ask if you have found a cool looking pond.
I always looked for riprap, bridges, or places with clear access to fish before I had a boat. Riprap can be a hard walk, but it also holds bait; bait attracts fish. Fishing parallel to riprap banks can be highly productive. Look for Bridges, or under them. They are usually accessible from the road and public. These can be choke points that will also hold bait and in turn, fish. Boat ramps always hold a fish or two. In desperation on tourney day, more than one of us will hit a boat ramp looking for a keeper.
Fishing Item #7: Google Earth
This is a tool I didn’t have as a young ‘un learning to fish. I would just wander and stumble over places to fish. This can help you to find locations. It can show you roads to piers or out of the way locations.
Zoom in and follow the shore lines….find those bridges, rip rap or ramps and mark them to find later. It is an invaluable tool to finding places to fish.
Fishing Item #8: YouTube
The internet has made it possible for anyone to post fishing information; and also makes it easy to find information about fishing. Do not underestimate the usefulness of this tool. I am not aware of any serious angler who doesn’t use it for research. It is just as valuable for the beginner; to learn how to fish certain waters and to catch certain species.
If you know you are going to fish in the spring for something on a certain body of water; search for it on YouTube, there is most likely a video.
Fishing Item #9: A Map App
There are several maps available that will show you water depth. These will help you to know what the water you are fishing is like. I have passed folks fishing all day long. They don’t know that no matter how far they cast, the water is only 6 inches deep; the likely hood of catching fish is low for them.
With a good app (like the ANGLR App), you can find water that is deeper and more likely to hold fish.
Look for banks that are deeper than a couple of feet deep once you get offshore a few feet. If the bridge you found, with the riprap around it, has 5-10 feet of water running under it, spend some time there. Something will bite. If it is less than a foot… you might want to reconsider spending all afternoon on the shore.
Fishing Item #10: Friends
These can be invaluable sources of knowledge and education. While anglers will typically lie about a lot when it comes to catching, they do enjoy teaching you what they know. Arranging a day on the water with someone who understands your skill level and interest can help you to enjoy the day more while learning.
They can also help you to find better locations by season, improving your early success and keeping you interested in fishing.
These tips will not get you to the top of the tournament trails on day one, but we all have to start somewhere. Do not be afraid to reach out to local guys you see on Facebook either… most of us are more than willing to give you tips and (maybe not our best) locations to get you started. Hope you find some fish, and a new hobby that you can pass on like my father did to me; then I to my daughter, then to my grandson.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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