So you want to take up angling but have no idea where to start! You have always envied those anglers who post photos on the internet casting nets at the Bahamas, reeling in giant fish, or holding monster bass species.
Now you are convinced that hooking a fish is an activity worth trying, whether as a pass time or a way to put food on the table, but you are just not sure how to get involved. Don’t worry, we got you covered!
From selecting an appropriate spot to learning the right techniques and determining the equipment you need to start fishing, angling is a lot more than just dipping your line into the water and waiting for the fish to bite.
If you are just getting started, you can easily feel intimidated especially if there is no one to show you how to go about it. That’s why we have prepared this comprehensive guide to help you and everyone else who can’t get their head around this activity so that you can master the basics and have a fun-filled first day. So, let’s get the show on the road!
Before You Go
1. Look For A Fishing Spot
Some fishing areas are so crowded, others inaccessible, and some may not even contain the fish species you are eyeing. Take time to research the best spots for beginners. You can obtain this information from online fishing forums, fishing guides, or from your local bait stores.
There are plenty of fish species in water bodies but if you have a specific spot in mind, you will better your catching probability. You will also have more specific catches or friendlier people to make your trip more enjoyable. You don’t want to go blindly, spend the whole day casting your rod in the waters and come out empty-handed.
If you live near the coast, you can opt for saltwater fishing. This would be the easiest pick for you because chances are that you have heard anglers mention some of the best fishing spots around. Get the one that has a good fish population and a much cordial community.
If yours is a landlocked area, visit the fishing shops for advice on good angling spots. Who knows, you might just meet a few anglers on their way out and ask them for recommendations. People who go fishing regularly usually are eager to share their knowledge with beginners and these could be just what you need to get started.
Once you have all the information you need and have chosen a spot of your liking, you can visit the place in advance just to be sure that all the details are right. Find out the means of accessing the area. Know the best time to fish – whether it’s early morning or late evening, as these are the times when most fish come out of their hiding to look for food.
2. Get Authorized
So you have found your spot, the next thing should be to get a fishing license. You really don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law on your first day of fishing without permission.
You can easily obtain the license from the department of fish and wildlife of the state you intend to go fishing. Most states will offer these services online to make the process simpler and faster. You can even make the application and go angling the same day!
3. Gear Up
The secret to successful angling is having the appropriate equipment. Before you start fishing, find out what gear is there for beginners. There are so many accessories that an angler needs during a fishing trip but since you are just getting started let’s just stick to the basics. Here are some of the items that you should include in your fishing kit during your first trip.
The best rod to use will be a floating type. These are the most recommended rods for beginners as they cast long enough. If you are fishing at the sea or ocean, you may want to stick to the shores and a floating rod will help you reach long distances.
Be sure to get one that is at least 12 ft. long so that you can cast far enough. If it is made of carbon fiber or fiberglass, the better because these materials are lightweight and perfect for reeling in small fish, and at the same time strong enough to hook even monster creatures.
Baits And Hooks
You can buy fake or live lures as you get started. These will get the job done just fine, but as you continue learning, you will discover tools that you can use to catch your own bait.
If you will be using dead bait, make sure to remove any dirt and roughness on its surface so that you don’t harm your catch. For live lures like worms and maggots, you need to store them carefully once you have purchased them so that they don’t die. If you are on a budget, you can start fishing with the worms as these can be obtained even from the surrounding environment. So far, we haven’t heard of a fish that has resisted the enticement of a toasty warm!
Bring some hooks too. Otherwise, where are you going to attach your bait? Get a size 3/0 for larger lures and 2/0 for smaller ones.
You will be removing the hooks from your catch once you have pulled it out of the water so bring a nice pair of pliers.
You have been patient enough and finally pulled out something from the water! So where are you going to place your catch? This is where a landing net comes in.
Invest in one that doesn’t tangle and whose material is made of safety mesh. Otherwise, you could end up damaging the slime caught meant to protect the fish from bacterial infections. If you are not going to be taking your catch home, then it would be important to preserve this preventive layer to help the fish survive after release back into the water.
Something To Move On The Waters
Depending on where you are going to fish, you might need to bring something that will enable you to move on to water. If you own a kayak and want your first fishing day to be at a local river, you can bring it on this trip. We recommend that beginner fishers stick to the banks of the rivers but if you are good at slicing the waters and sure that you won’t flip over, then you can lower your rod from a kayak.
Whether you will be fishing from the shores or while floating on the lake, make sure to invest in safety gear. This is just like any other trip and accidents can happen so pack up a safety kit. Remember you will be using sharp tools like hooks and knives, which means, cuts are inevitable. To be on the safe side, bring your first aid kit to keep the bleeding from any injury controlled.
It would also be a good idea to bring a map or GPS especially if the area is totally new to you. If you will be fishing from your kayak, you may want to pack up a life jacket so that even if your device capsizes, you remain afloat.
The thought of biting insects is one of the reasons why many people fear going fishing. This is understandable because most angling spots are infested with such insects. If you are worried about being pestered by insects, just bring attire that will keep most of your body covered. Get some nice waders, a cap, and something to cover up the rest of your skin.
While packing up the clothes for the trip, consider the atmospheric conditions too. If the weather is too cold, you will need to bring something that keeps you warm. Gloves, boots, warm socks, and a jacket will generate some heat for your body and prevent you from freezing. For warm weather, get some sunglasses, a sunhat, and sunscreen to protect yourself from UV rays.
A camera is not a necessity but seriously this is your first day to start fishing and chances are that you want to document every action. In the future, there are times you may need to have a good laugh, and looking back at some of the mistakes you made during your first fish hunt could be a rib-tickling moment. There are cheap waterproof cameras in the market and you can get one for this particular day.
4. Take Fishing Classes
You have the right spot, a license, and the appropriate equipment for the trip, so you are all set for a mind-blowing adventure. But wait! Have you thought about paying for fishing classes? You need a few pieces of your gear explained to you and how they are used, right?
A fishing class will help you learn the basics of the activity so that you don’t feel lost during your first day on the waters. You get to learn the best places to go fishing, best fish species for beginner anglers, types of bait to use on different fish species, as well as how to catch, handle and release a fish. What’s more, you will have a chance to interact with other anglers and ask questions to build the confidence you need while out there.
With trip preparation behind us and everything ready, it is now time to do the obvious – hit the waters! You might be spending the entire day out there so stash enough snacks and refreshments in your cooler. Eat properly before you leave and drink plenty of water to keep yourself energized and hydrated throughout the session.
Also, this being your first day, you may want to bring a friend who knows a thing or two about fishing, just to remind you of the basics. Having someone by your side is also the best way to ensure your safety.
Once you are at the shore or the riverbank:
1. Get Your Line Ready
Preparing your line with the right tools and lures takes time to learn. Different tools have different effects on the fishing line and for you to know which is the best tool to use, you must get yourself familiar with all of them. That’s why we recommend that beginner anglers take some fishing classes before baiting a hook.
Tie knots in your line. There are different types of knots that you can moor in your line. The easiest and most common is the J knot. You can Google guides and videos on how to tie a J knot and other knots beforehand so that you don’t have trouble doing this.
Just remember to make the knots a little wet before tightening because as expert anglers say, bad knots get you losing good fish, and that’s the last thing you want.
Use weights or sinkers to keep your hook dipped into the waters instead of just floating on the water surface. While baiting your hook, make sure to do it properly so that it appears as natural as possible. Fish will be more enticed by live-looking lures than those that look sort of dead.
Attach a bobber too so that you can know when a fish has taken a bite. Clip this onto your fishing line depending on how deep your bait is into the water. Any time a fish nibbles at the lure, the bobber will make an up and down movement in the water.
2. Cast Your Line
The way reels work is that they have a lock and release phase for the fishing line. To cast the line properly, unlock and grasp it with your fingers. Sway the rod in a curve and let go of the line when the curve reaches the peak. If the momentum is strong enough, it will cause the hook to fly. As the hook sinks into the water, lock the line so that it doesn’t get loose or your catch just swims away with your hook.
We are assuming that by now you already know how to cast or have taken lessons on the same before making this trip. If you haven’t had enough time to do this, look for an open place on the shore that is less crowded, and practice casting before heading for the real show.
3. Wait For It
If you are not a patient person, then fishing might not be your thing. You just can’t keep taking your rod out after every two minutes to check if you have a bite. Wait for at least 20 minutes after which you can pull it out and cast again in a different area. Leaving it in the water longer than this could be a bad idea because sometimes you may need to bait it again. If it is down there without a lure then it is not helping anyone.
Keep a keen eye on your rod for even the slightest changes in weight. A sudden change could mean you have a catch. Pull your rod out of the water immediately as you push the hook toward the fish to secure the catch.
4. Remove The Hook
Once the fish is partially out of the water, grab your pliers and pull the hook out. Make it snappy if you will be releasing your catch back to the waters later. It would be wise to ask your friend to help you with this so that you can learn how it is done. Remember you don’t want to keep the fish out of the water more than necessary.
All this time, you have your net wet and ready. Put your catch on the net making sure not to mishandle it.
If you are going to take pics with your fish or measure its weight, hold it vertically from the jaw so that all its weight is concentrated on the lower body. This mostly applies to large-sized fish like bass, whereby improper handling could end up damaging the jaw of the fish making it hard for it to feed after it is returned into the water.
If you will be taking your catch home, however, it won’t be a big deal holding it even from the tail. In fact, you won’t even have to place it on the wet net in the first place because eventually, the fish is going to die. Just get the hook out, store your catch properly and continue casting your rod.
5. Decide What You Want To Do With Your Catch
Every fishing spot has rules and regulations that govern what anglers should and should not do with the fish they have pulled out of the water. This is all stated on the fishing license.
Some states allow only catch and release for certain fish species. Some restrictions are also based on the age of the fish. If you have read your license carefully (which is you should by the way), you will definitely know what to do with your catch.
If you are going to release the fish, do it correctly. Don’t just toss it into the water, as it may not be able to swim properly. The action of fighting for its life when the rod pulled it out of the water zapped enough energy from it already. Don’t let it undergo any further stress by throwing it mercilessly back into the water.
To do it correctly, dip the fish into the water and hold its tail. Wait for about 5 minutes for it to recover its strength and then let go. If you just toss it into the water, it may not be able to find its bearings and may have a hard time swimming. You really don’t want these sea creatures to hate you on your first day, do you? So do things right!
If the law allows you to keep your catch, all you need is to bring the right containers for the trip. If you don’t have a fish cooler, you can fill one container with ice and pack it up for the trip. This will help keep the fish fresh while you continue with your adventure.
After The Fishing Expedition
We are assuming that you were lucky enough to bring your catch home, so what do you do next? Clean the fish and remove all the horrible bits before cooking or deep-freezing it.
To remove the scales, grab a knife and run its back on the fish from the tail upward. Once you have gotten rid of these, clean the fish. This can get a little messy so ensure you are doing it on a surface that can be cleaned easily.
Get your knife again and cut through the skin of the fish from the tail, through the belly all the way to the head. Remove the gills, guts, and any roe. Run cold water and rinse the fish thoroughly. That’s it, your fish is ready to cook or store away!
The best place to store your clean fish is in a freezer box, but even then don’t let it stay for more than 3 months because its quality will start declining.
Globo Surf Overview
If you have read this guide to the end, then you already have all the information you need to start fishing. Pick the right spot, obtain a license, gear up properly, take classes and you will have an amazing first time.
Once you are at your spot, follow the right techniques for catching and handling the fish. If your spot allows catch and release only, get the fish back into the water as soon as possible, but if you are going to have the fish for dinner, have your containers ready to collect as many fish as possible.