There is nothing more relaxing than standing beside a river or lake, or settling back onto a chair on your boat, and casting your line out. Even if you’re not trying to catch your dinner, just sitting there, looking out over the water and listening to the sounds of nature can be a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
If you go to a sporting goods store, it’s easy to get intimidated by the sheer number of rods, reel, hooks and lures lining the shelves. Don’t let the options chase you off before you get out on the water for the first time. Here are some easy steps to follow to get you started fishing.
1. Get Your License
Before you start buying tackle or staking out fishing spots, you need to get your license. These will vary from state to state and change depending on where you’re planning to fish. Freshwater and saltwater fish require different licensing. You’ll also need additional licenses for fishing from a boat and casting out from the shore. Talk to your local shop owner to figure out what sort of permit you’ll need for the trip you have planned.
2. Talk to Local Experts
You can read every book and watch myriad YouTube videos on fishing, but there’s no replacement for experience. Find some local pros and pick their brains about the rods and tackle that work, the best baits and lures, and the ideal spots to cast your line. You might find the perfect area you may not have heard about otherwise. You will also likely make some pretty good fishing buddies.
3. Find a Spot
The next step is to find the perfect spot to cast your line. This will vary depending on the type of fish you’re trying to catch, the time of year, the current season and your location. If you’re not sure where to start, consider chartering a fishing trip so you can work with a pro to bring home a guaranteed catch. These can be a great way to get into the sport of fishing without investing in gear — and a great way to figure out if you even enjoy the sport before you start spending lots of money.
4. Gather Your Gear
If you decide you love fishing as much as we do, then the next step is to start investing in some basic gear. The exact items you need will vary depending on where you’re heading, but you will absolutely need:
- A rod and reel
- A spool of fishing line
- Hooks of various sizes
- Bobbers and weights
- Pliers to remove hooks and scissors to cut lines
- A measuring tape and/or fish scale
- A filet knife if your catch is big enough to keep
There are all sorts of different fun lures, hooks and other toys you can buy for catching specific fish, but when you’re just starting out, this is all you need to land a few fish. You can always add to your arsenal later.
5. Get Your Bait
Finally, before you start casting your line, you’ll need something to put on the hook to attract fish. As with your tackle, the exact bait will vary depending on your location and the fish you’re trying to catch. A good way to start is to throw out a nightcrawler or other small bait just to see what’s biting. You also have the option of tossing a small cast net for some live bait, taking advantage of the local ecosystems.
Enjoy Your Time on the Water
Whether you’re planning some catch-and-release or are fishing for your dinner, enjoy your time on the water. There’s nothing more relaxing than heading out, rod and reel in hand, with nothing between you and the elements. Take your time and be patient. The fish aren’t always biting, and it can be challenging to learn the ins and outs of the sport, but it can be worth it.
Whatever you do, don’t let all the available options scare you away. All you really need is a rod and reel, a hook and some bait. Everything else is just icing on the cake.