Fishing 101: How to Catch Your First Fish
Photo by michal dziekonski on Unsplash
Feeling overwhelmed? Need a break? Want to get out of the house? Go fishing!
Being out on the water and in the fresh air is good for physical and mental health. Chances are there’s a body of water near you, so if you’re looking for a new, exciting hobby, fishing could be it.
Here’s how to catch your first fish!
Begin With Research
Preparation is key. Knowing what you’re fishing for helps you choose the right gear, which will make your experience easier and safer from the start.
- Target Fish
Find out what fish species you can catch in the area. We recommend avoiding trout for beginners, as the process is more complicated! Once you know the species that you’ll be catching, learn what they look like, what they eat and how they behave.
- Bait & Tackle
Pick your bait according to what your target fish eats. Pay attention to size, color and the way it moves in the water. This is what will attract the fish to your line! It’s always a good idea to have multiple types of bait in your tackle box, but know which are more likely to attract your target fish.
- Fishing Gear
Choose your rod and reel based on the type of fishing you’ll be doing. For beginners, a spinning rod-and-reel combo is ideal.
For most types of freshwater fishing, a rod of 6 to 9 feet with a medium power, fast action and 6 to 12lb line should be more than enough.
Learn Your Skills
Oce you know what you’re fishing for and have the right equipment to catch it, it’s time to practise your skills!
There’s an art to casting. It’s not just throwing your line out. You need to be able to get your line where you want it safely and effectively.
You can practise it in a large open field or on the water. The more you practise, the better you’ll get.
- Reeling In
Also known as retrieving, this is the act of bringing your line back after you’ve cast it. When you’re trying to catch fish, you’ll bring your line back in such a way that the bait moves like it’s alive. This entices the fish to bite.
When you’ve got a fish on the line, you can’t just drag it in! This is the game of fishing. When it pulls, lock the line and wait. When it tires, that’s when you start bringing it in. It could be hard to practise this unless you've got a fish on the line, but get a good understanding of how to do it.
Now it’s time to get out on the water! Whether you’re fishing from the shore, pier, wading in or kayaking, the principles are the same.
Put everything you know into practice. Choose a pot and cast your line. Play with it so it looks like it’s moving naturally. Cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve, until you get a bite.
Then, it’s time to set the hook and let the game begin!
Pro Tip: Be patient and persistent. As an angler, there will be days when you get zero bites and there’ll be days when you catch everything!
Kenneth Reaves is a professional angler who’s been fishing both recreationally and competitively for over two decades. He loves sharing his knowledge and passion for the sport, and gives gear, technique, and location advice over at Perfect Captain.