Freshwater Fishing Basics
This article provides basic information about freshwater fishing in North America.
Fishing Tackle Basics
Rods, Reels, Tackle, Etc.
Beginner fishermen (called "anglers") are faced with a staggering array of choices when it comes to choosing rods, reels, tackle, and other fishing equipment.
Although the reasons for so many variations are not usually apparent for beginners, much of the equipment that is available is very specialized and may not be suitable for all situations.
Before buying their first fishing outfit, the angler should consider a few factors:
Will fishing be done from shore or from a boat?
How deep will the water be where most fishing is done?
What species of fish will be primary targets?
How many times will the angler be fishing during the season?
Although beginner anglers may not have all these answers, it is still good to consider each question and think about what might lie ahead.
If the angler expects to do a considerable amount of fishing, it is usually well worth the effort to visit a local fishing tackle shop and seek advice.
Local shop owners are usually friendly, knowledgeable, and have a selection of gear that is appropriate for local fishing areas.
If a fishing tackle shop is not available locally, the angler must resort to visiting the sporting goods department of a local department store.
In either case, anglers will find several styles of rods, reels and other tackle. Most stores offer components separately, or as a pre-rigged combo package. For novices, a combo unit is often the best value.
Among the most popular are spinning rods and reels, equipped with monofilament line. Novices will notice that each reel will have a series of data conerning line capacity. These charts are confusing, but offer valuable information. Typically, a reel will accept several sizes of line, with the total amount depending on the line diameter. In other words, the thicker the line is, the less it takes to fill the reel.
For basic freshwater fishing, 8-12 pound test line is usually a good starting point. These lines are strong enough to be forgiving, but light enough to cast well. Heavier lines not only decrease casting distances but they are more likely to be seen by fish.
Bait fishing is a common technique for novice anglers. When fish are near the surface or at mid-depths, anglers will need only a basic bait such as nightcrawlers (worms), a few hooks and bobbers (floats). In other cases, fish can be caught by fishing on the bottom with a sinker and hooks or other setup.
Freshwater Fish Species
Depending on local conditions, freshwater anglers may encounter sunfish, bass, crappie, catfish, suckers, carp, perch, walleye, sauger, musky, pike, pickerel, trout, salmon, or other species.
For beginners, learning which species of fish are available locally is important. In most areas, species-specific regulations apply, so the angler must be able to identify fish accurately.
As anglers begin catching more and more fish, they quickly learn to recognize each species by shape, size, coloration, unique features or other methods.
After learning to identify species of fish and checking with local regulations, anglers usually decide if they will release all the fish they catch, or to harvest a few fish for food.