Beginner Fishing Tips
Whether fishing from the shore, boat, or dock there are a few tips to help get the new cottage angler off to a safe and positive start.
Fishing From the Shore
Some of the best fishing is done from the shore and all new anglers should begin this way. Fishing from the rocks, riverbank, or beach has a number of advantages for parents who are teaching kids to fish. Being on the shoreline is convenient, allows young children to take a break when they need it, is cost effective, and often produces the best results for young anglers.
Children should always wear life jackets when fishing from the shore or a dock. Kids have a habit of falling into the water in the oddest ways, so it is always best to be safe. This is especially important when the water along the shore is deep, or when you are fishing an area with current or fast moving water.
Fishing Under Trees
Be aware of overhanging trees when casting your line out along the shoreline. Overhead branches and leaves can provide a nice shady area but they tend to be very unforgiving when a lure or baited hook gets stuck in a branch.
Fishing Off A Dock
When fishing off the dock try to stay away from boat motors and ladders. Larger fish will attempt to tangle the line around them and you may lose the prize catch of the day. Watch children very carefully and keep the dock free of obstacles. Remove your lines and put the gear away in the boat or shed when people are swimming or boats are moving in and out of the dock area.
Unattended Fishing Rods
Never leave your rod and reel unattended if you have your line in the water. If a fish takes your bait it may pull the rod into the lake, especially when fishing off the dock or a rock face along the shoreline. Many anglers have lost both fish and expensive rods and reels because they wandered off to the toilet for a few minutes and left the line in the water.
If you need to leave your fishing spot for a short time, always reel in the line and place the hook in one of the eyes of the fishing rod. Set the rod in a safe place so that someone won’t accidentally trip on it and break it.
Always have the proper fishing equipment available to handle any possible situation. This includes a net, pliers, jaw spreaders (for fish with teeth) and a cheap digital camera. Fish always seem to bite when you least expect them.
Fishing From a Boat
Plan The Fishing Trip
Fishing from a boat requires some planning ahead of time to ensure a safe and successfull outing.
Check the weather forecast before you leave the dock and watch for unexpected storms. Never assume you can outrun the storm before it arrives. A storm that appears to be off in the distance or moving in a different direction can suddenly turn and arrive very quickly. It is common for a calm lake to turn violent in minutes and small boats can be easily flipped in rough water.
Check the catch and release rules and limits for the area you are fishing before you head out on the lake. Make sure everyone has copies of their required permits and licences and proof of I.D. in the event you are stopped by the local conservation officers.
The rules apply equally whether you are fishing from a boat or off the dock or shoreline on private property. In most jurisdictions conservation officials have the right to land on private property and do inspections.
Good Clothing For Fishing
Wear the proper clothing. Hats, gloves, glasses, and rain gear should be kept handy if there is a possibility they will be needed. You want to be comfortable and you need to be properly dressed in case you run into problems and have to spend more time out on the lake than you planned. When planning to fish from a boat it is best to take extra clothing as the wind on the lake can be much colder than on the shore.
Tell someone where you are going and how long you plan to be away. Stick to the schedule and return on time.
Food And Drink
Bring drinking water and snacks for the trip out on the boat. It is important to stay hydrated and you want to focus on catching fish and not your hungry stomach. Remember that it is illegal in most places to drink alcohol on a boat and the fines and penalties for impaired boating are the same as for impaired driving.
Maintenance and Supplies Checklist
Double check the fuel, boat motor water pump, required safety equipment, and fishing gear before you leave the dock.
Wear a life jacket at all times. Fishermen fall out of boats and drown more than any other class of boaters. This is most often caused by a loss of balance while standing in the boat to answer nature’s call or while reaching too far to net a fish when an unexpected wave hits and rock the boat.
Wear sun screen. A breeze on a sunny day will make your skin feel cool but doesn’t protect it.
Polarized glasses allow visibility into the water as well as providing protection from the sun. Make sure the glasses are attached to a string or band. You don’t want them to fall into the lake when you bend over to net a fish. Glasses are not only important for protecting against the sun, they also protect your eyes from flying fish hooks.
Proper Way To Retrieve A Lure
Always retrieve your lure at an angle that faces away from your fishing partner. This avoids the danger of your lure flying out of the water and hitting someone when you jerk the line to set the hook, or when a fish jumps and spits the hook.
Use pliers to pinch the barbs on the hooks of all lures. This makes it much easier to remove the hook from the fish, and your finger. A barbed hook that enters your finger can only come out two ways. Either you push the point of the hook all the way through and cut it off on the other side or you get it surgically removed at the hospital.
Keep the clutter in the boat to a minimum. All lures should be stored in a tackle box. The fishing net, pliers, and jaw spreaders should be placed in a spot that is easy to reach. Consider tying a string around the pliers and jaw spreaders so they can be easily retrieved if they fall into the lake.
Relax when you hook a fish, especially a large one. You don’t want to fall out of the boat. Sudden movements can cause the boat to rock, and it is easy to forget about your location and trip over a piece of equipment in the boat. Be aware of the trolling motor and the boat’s location with respect to the shore. When fighting a fish it is easy to forget that the boat is still drifting or moving towards an island, reef, or the shoreline.
Ho To Release Fish
Try to release fish at the side of the boat. It is better for the fish and safer for you. Large fish will often thrash around violently when they are brought into the boat and can cause a lot of damage to both your fingers and their health.
Remove your line from the water when your fishing partner catches a fish. This ensures the fish will not cross the two lines. It also allows you to help your partner land and release the fish. Besides being common fishing etiquette, it also ensures your partner will want to continue fishing with you.
Don’t use your teeth to cut the line when changing hooks or baits. Use a pair of nail clippers, scissors, or a small knife. The use of swivels makes it much easier to transition from one bait to another.
Other important information
Beginner anglers should buy entry level equipment. It is inexpensive, will work fine for most fishing situations, and will allow you the chance to get a feel for the sport before you open up the wallet and upgrade to some higher end and specialized equipment.
Go to the Beginner Fishing Equipment page for information on all the gear you need to get started.
It is important to learn how to tie at least two of the popular fishing knots.
Go to the Fishing Knots page to study the list of knots that are best for each situation.
Each fish species has different habits and responds to different baits. The simplest arrangement is the use of a bobber attached to a line with a hook and some bait.
Go to the For The Angler page for links to information on each type of fish you are interested in catching.
Go to the Live Bait Tips page for advice on the various types of live bait that are popular with anglers.
The sport of fishing has its own extensive vocabulary.
To get an understanding of the basics, go to the Fishing Terminology page.