Whether you're spending time with family and friends or hoping to catch dinner, fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and come head-to-head with a vibrant array of fish. With the right gear and a little know-how, you’ll be sharing fishing tales with the old-timers before you know it!
1 Go where the fish are. Pick a place you'll enjoy spending several hours outdoors and a place you'll have a high probability of catching fish. Public lakes, rivers, and ponds are usually your best bet. Talk to other fishermen at your local sporting goods store to get some tips on locations for fishing.
- Many local municipal parks stock fish in ponds that are available for anyone to fish, and the fishing is usually pretty easy and quick for the beginner, though these are often crowded and somewhat dirty. Never crowd other fishermen and encroach on "their spot."
- Secluded spots around ponds or levees outside of town are good bets. If you're wandering in the woods looking for a place to fish privately, make sure you're not tramping onto someone's private property, or that you're fishing in a place that doesn't allow it.
- If you live on the coast, Ocean fishing is an available option. You'll need a separate license for ocean fishing, and gear specific to the kinds of fish you'll be catching in the ocean. The techniques are largely the same.
2 Find out what people fish for in your area. Many newspapers have local fishing reports that will list locations and tell you what fish, if any, are biting and what they’re biting on. You can also ask around at angling shops, marinas and camping supply stores in the area for tips.
- Catfish are common river and lake fish all over the United States. Channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish are all commonly caught for eating. Look for deep water at the mouth of large creeks and rivers, and keep an eye out for sudden cut banks or drops. Catfish love these spots, but will head out to deeper water when it warms.
3 Seek out a particular trophy or eating fish. Want to catch alligator gar but you live in New York? It's going to be tough going if you're casting into the East River. If you want to be ambitious and plan a fishing trip to net a particular variety of fish, you'll have to make a trip to the region and the particular type of water that fish inhabits.
- In the Great Lakes region, walleye are quite popular, as well as Northern Pikes. Lake Huron is a popular spot for fishing these often-large catches.
- In the South,garand bowfins are common in swampy regions. Flounder and perch are also commonly fished. The Henderson swamp in Baton Rouge is a great spot for Gar, and Lake Pontchartrain is a fishing destination for all sorts of varieties.
- In the Northwest, rainbow trout are well stocked and common, distinctive for their reddish or pinkish stripe from the gill to the tail.Crappie, walleye, and bass are also common in this region.
- If you've picked a body of water you like and want to find out what kind of fish are around, throw in some food scraps and wait a few minutes.
4 Find a place where deep water meets shallow water. Most fish big enough to catch will spend most of the day in deeper water and come into the shallows to feed. They won't spend much time swimming around shallow water, however, so you'll want to find the places they'll come up for quick food sorties before darting away.
- Look for reedy and log-filled beds in lakes that are close to sudden drop offs. Bugs generally congregate in cutbanks and tiny inlets, as well, making them popular feeding grounds for fish. Mussel beds are popular catfish hangouts.
5 Fish at the right time of day. Most freshwater fish are crepuscular feeders, which means they come out to eat at dawn and at dusk, making sunrise and sunset the most effective fishing hours.
- If you're an early riser, get out there before the sun's up to enjoy a morning fishing session. If the thought of setting your alarm clock for 4:30 gives you the willies, aim for an early evening fishing plan.
6 Make sure the water you're fishing is clean if you're planning on eating the fish. Check your State's Department of Natural Resources website, or call and talk to someone at the park office for information about the cleanliness of the water and whether or not it’s safe to eat the fish you're planning on catching. If you don't want to eat them, simply release them back into the water.
- Be sure to check your local regulations regarding catch-and-release policies, as you may be required to keep certain fish that you catch. For example, in some rivers, you may not be able to release caught hatchery steelhead.
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