Category Archives: fishing basics

Fishing Success from Shore

Enjoy All-Season Fishing Success from Shore
Five ways for the shore-bound angler to enjoy more consistent catches

Dr. Jason Halfen
The Technological Angler
from The Fishing Wire

These five tips will help you to enjoy more consistent catches from shore, no matter which species of fish you pursue.

Let’s face the facts: nearly everyone gets their start in fishing by casting a line from shore. These outings find us anxious to tangle with “whatever bites” and happy to steal a few moments near the water to wash away life’s trials and tribulations.

The simplicity of angling from the shore is counterbalanced by the inherent limitations that accompany such trips: fishing locations are restricted to those places where we can legally access the shoreline, and our ability to probe the nooks and crannies of subsurface structure is limited by the distance covered by our longest casts. Even in the face of these obstacles, shore fishing continues to enjoy a special part in the repertoire of many sportsmen, ranging from the relative novice to the most seasoned and experienced angler. Here are five proven tips that will help bring more success to your shoreline fishing experiences.

Near-shore casting obstacles, like tall willows or reeds, can be outmaneuvered by using a long rod, like the St. Croix Legend Tournament Walleye Series (LTWS76MLXF).
Go Long. One of the most important tools for the shore-bound angler is a long rod. Certainly no secret to veterans of the Euro-carp scene, where rods up to 13 feet in length are commonplace, long rods provide significant advantages to multispecies anglers patrolling the shoreline. First, such rods allow anglers to avoid entanglements with imposing shoreline reeds and willows, where the rod’s length can elevate baits above those obstacles during the cast, and can also keep the angler’s line above that same cover during the retrieve. Second, long rods provide the leverage necessary to bring hooked fish quickly to shore, keeping them away from near-shore snags that could lead to loss of the “fish of the day”.

When chasing walleyes, bass and panfish, my favorite shorefishing rod is the 7-foot, 6-inch St. Croix Legend Tournament Walleye Series (LTWS76MLXF). This rod provides the length needed to avoid shoreline cover and to make long casts; the sensitivity I to detect subtle bites from wary walleyes; and the right balance of power to dominate larger fish, while still allowing scrappy battles with crappies and perch.

When whiskered fish, like catfish or sturgeon, are on the menu, I select a beefy St. Croix Mojo Cat (MCS80MF2). This 8-foot rod features a unique, powerful blend of SCII graphite and linear S-glass that can easily muscle the orneriest cat to shore.

Watch your line. Productive shoreline fishing areas don’t often occur as a sugar-sand beach, where barefoot anglers might frolic between bites. Rather, prime areas to target lunkers from shore are often tough to reach, and tougher to fish from, because of hazardous rocks, thick brush or downed trees, or manmade cover like docks or boathouses assembled from wood and metal. Casting, retrieving, and fighting fish near these abrasive objects can have dramatic, negative impacts on your line, often leading to line failure and the loss of a prize catch.

To avoid this heartbreak, choose a line that is tough enough for any shoreline application, like Seaguar AbrazX. A 100% fluorocarbon line fortified with advanced abrasion resistance, Seaguar AbrazX is designed to defeat the line-weakening effects of heavy cover, while remaining extremely soft for long casts and ease of handling. Perfect for walleyes hiding in the rocks and catfish tucked into timber, Seaguar AbrazX was also the line of choice for Jordan Lee, who relied on this abrasion-resistant fluorocarbon on his way to the 2017 Bassmaster Classic Championship.

Check your jig. One of the simplest, yet most effective ways to target fish from shore is with a jig. By selecting jigs of different weights, we can present a wide variety of both live and artificial baits through any portion in the water column. Indeed, a light jig can be dangled beneath a bobber or retrieved close to the surface. Choose a heavier jig to work the mid-range depths or to bounce a bait along the bottom.

The Fiskas XL Walleye Series Jig is an excellent choice for presenting live baits in moving waters.

Tackle shops are replete with jigs in a dizzying array of designs, shapes and sizes. One refinement that makes a big difference, especially when fishing in current, is the use of tungsten jigs. Well established in the ice fishing scene, tungsten is a non-toxic substitute for the traditional leadhead, and because of tungsten’s high density, tungsten jigs will be smaller than lead jigs of the same weight. In current, a small-profile tungsten jig allows the angler to probe the depths of moving water while offering less resistance to current, which keeps the tungsten jig within the strike zone longer. Fiskas XL Walleye Series jigs are hand-painted tungsten jigs designed specifically for open water use, and are excellent choices when chasing spring walleyes from shore, particularly when tipped with live bait. When presenting bulkier soft plastics, choose a premium lead jig with a wider-gap hook and a wire plastic-keeper, like the B-Fish-N Tackle Precision Jig.

Keep fish nearby. While shore-bound anglers generally have limited mobility, the fish they are chasing enjoy complete freedom of movement. Active fish patrolling a stretch of shoreline, or hopping among pieces of near-shore cover, might be within reach of an angler casting from shore for only a small fraction of that angler’s total fishing time. Where legal, BaitCloud is a unique product that will help to bring the fish to your location, and keep them there while you present baits to them. BaitCloud works by combining scent, sound, and visual attractants into a single, easy-to-use, biodegradable product that is proven to attract fish. Available in a variety of formulations, including specific recipes for bass, walleye, or panfish, BaitCloud can tip the scales in the shoreline angler’s favor, especially when used in a lake or other area with minimal current.

Travel light. One way to enhance your mobility when fishing from shore is to carry only a minimalistic set of equipment. The less stuff that you have to pack and move, the more often you will switch spots; just like fishing from a boat or through the ice, angler mobility is truly the key to success.

Featuring abundant space and a durable, weatherproof coating, the Plano Zipperless Z-Series Tackle Bag is the perfect storage solution for the shore-bound angler.

I carry a limited selection of basic tools and tackle, jigs and baits, extra line and maybe even an old-school stringer, all packed within a Plano Zipperless Z-Series Tackle Bag. Featuring plenty of room for my shore-fishing equipment and a convenient shoulder strap for ease of transport, my Plano Z-Series Tackle Bag has a durable, water-resistant coating and splash-resistant openings to keep my tools and tackle dry, no matter where my shoreline travels take me, or how rainy (or snowy!) a fishing day might become.

Fishing from shore is a great way to reconnect with your angling roots, and to introduce a youngster to our sport. These five tips will help keep smiles on faces and rods bent with consistency, no matter which species of fish you pursue from the shoreline.

About the author: Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, a company dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more and bigger fish. Learn more at .

Fishing Opportunities

Be Ready When Fishing Opportunities Arise
Editor’s Note: Today’s feature comes to us courtesy of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Author Kevin Kelly is focused on the Bluegrass State, but his advice works for all of us.
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, KY– Planning a fishing trip more than a couple days ahead of time can be a gamble in late winter when the weather is a mixed bag and the favorable conditions here today may be gone tomorrow.

With some advance preparation, you can be ready to grab what you need and go when that friend calls at daybreak or the impulse strikes and the schedule allows for a last-minute trip.

Performing regular maintenance on your reels can prevent catastrophic problems or costly repairs down the road.

Over the course of a fishing season, grit and grime accumulate and work into the guts of a reel. A hitch in the retrieve signals a reel in need of immediate maintenance. Keep cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, an old toothbrush, paper towels, reel oil and reel grease on hand to accomplish this task, but consult the reel owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for its recommendations.

Some wait until a reel is almost bare of line before replenishing the spool. Imagine the disappointment to have the biggest fish of your life break off or not have enough line to cast to a desired spot. Go ahead and invest in a new spool of line for the peace of mind.

Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines require more frequent replacement than braided lines. Match the line with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the reel and take care to load the line correctly to avoid line twist, which can lead to those annoying bird’s nests.

Likewise, clean and inspect any rods that were stored over the winter. Check the reel seats and tighten the lock nuts as needed. Repair or replace worn or broken rod guides. Brush the inside of the guides with a cotton swab. The cotton will snag on any sharp edges or burs.

Keeping your tackle organized can be a challenge once spring arrives. Why not start fresh? Stowaway utility boxes are an angler’s friend. These plastic containers come in all shapes and sizes and prove useful for storing baits, weights, jig heads, hooks and more. Organize soft plastics by color and type in separate sealable sandwich bags and store the bags in one of these clear plastic tackle boxes or a binder.

A dull hook decreases the odds of a good hook set, so take a moment while everything is out to sharpen hooks on crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.

Some anglers organize their tackle by species or waterbody type to cut down on time and the hassle of picking and choosing from several boxes the night before or day of a trip.

If you’re running low on an item, look for off-season and pre-season sales to help stretch your dollar.

Aside from equipment maintenance and organization, it is important to carve out some time to review the Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide. The 2017-18 version is available online at and wherever licenses are sold.

The guide points out any changes in regulation. New fishing regulations that will go into effect March 1 include the removal of a statewide daily creel limit for yellow bass. Trammel Creek in Allen County remains under seasonal catch and release regulations from Oct. 1 through March 31 but the daily creel limit for rainbow trout will be five from April 1 through Sept. 30. Lakes and sloughs at Ballard Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Boatwright WMA in Ballard County will be idle speed only for all boats. Likewise, Beulah Lake in Jackson County will be idle speed only for all boats. Largemouth bass at Pennyrile Lake in Christian County will be under statewide regulations.

Available on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ website, the annual fishing forecast for the state’s major fisheries provides helpful tips for a more productive day on the water. Carpenter Lake in Daviess County for largemouth bass and the upper Barren River for largemouth and spotted bass, bluegill in Fagan Branch Lake in Marion County and crappie at Benjy Kinman Lake in Henry County are noted in this year’s forecast as up-and-coming fisheries.

The new license year starts March 1. Kentucky fishing licenses may be purchased online at or by calling 1-877-598-2401. Licenses and permits also can be bought at retail stores, county court clerk offices and outdoor sporting goods stores across the state. License vendor locations are listed on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website.

In the meantime, there is still some time to squeeze even more value out of your 2016-17 fishing licenses. They’re valid through Feb. 28.

While not everybody has the luxury of being able to drop everything and go fishing when the conditions are ideal, you can save precious time by being prepared so you can take advantage when an opportunity does present itself.

Author Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Does Cooler Weather Help Bass Fishing?

The cooler weather has me fired up to go bass fishing, but I keep reminding myself this happens every fall. The weather changes and I think the bass change their feeding patterns immediately but they don’t respond as fast as I hope. But does cooler weather help bass fishing.

I went to Lake Oconee last Sunday with Cody Stahl and Tate Van Egmond for a Georgia Outdoor News article. For the first time in many months I was actually cold riding in a boat!

Cody and Tate won the Georgia BASS High School Championship at Eufaula last fall then came in 10th in the National High School Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring. They attend CrossPointe Christian Academy in Hollonville and represent their school well. Both are very nice young men.

Cody and Tate both play sports and are good at their positions in football, but Cody really loves fishing and plans to attend a college next year with a fishing team so he can continue what he likes best. There are many colleges in Georgia and Alabama that offer scholarships for bass fishing, just like other sports.

Cody and Tate are very good fishermen and work together as a team while fishing. I was impressed with their skills and knowledge of fishing and bass patterns. Although fishing was still tough, we landed several short bass and Cody caught three keepers, including one weighing 3.5 pounds.

We fished shallow docks, the same thing I did the week before when I zeroed a Flint River Bass Club tournament at Oconee. The way Cody fished them was a little different. He can skip a bait under a dock much better than I can.

Bass under docks see baits a lot since a lot of people fish around them. If your bait doesn’t get back under the dock a long way they often won’t hit. And if the bait makes a big splash when it hits it seems to turn the fish off. They know it is not real.

Fishing has improved some and will get even better during the next few weeks. The Potato Creek Bassmasters fished their September tournament at Oconee last Saturday and did much better than the Flint River Club did the week before.

In their tournament, 12 members landed 24 keepers weighing 50 pounds. Kwong Yu won with a five fish limit weighing 9.57 pounds, Mike Cox was second with four at 8.10 pounds, Wesley Gunnels came in third with three weighing 6.45 pounds and Niles Murray was fourth with three at 6.27 pounds. Donnie Willis had big fish with a 3.50 pound largemouth.

In comparison, Niles came in second in the Flint River tournament the week before with two bass weighing 3.04 pounds and the nine Flint River members caught only six keepers. That is a good sign the fishing is getting better.

Bass are cold blooded so their body is the temperature of the water they are in. They are most active when water temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees. At Oconee in the Flint River tournament the water was 88 degrees, making them sluggish. By the next week it had dropped to 81 degrees, still hotter than the best range but much better.

As the water cools and bass become more active they will chase a faster moving bait, and go further to eat it. They also move to more shallow water. They will feed more and more until the water drops into the 50s in December. Then they become more sluggish until it warms in the spring.

When water is too far above or below the best range the bass tend to go to deeper water and not feed as much so they are harder to catch. Fishermen have to change the way they fish and the baits they use to catch fish as conditions change all year long.

In water near the optimum range faster moving baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits allow you to cover more water, fish more places and catch more fish. Slower moving baits like worms and jigs usually work best when the water is too cold or hot.

For the next three months fishing will be much more comfortable for the fisherman and fishing will be better. Combine that with the fact most pleasure boaters are off the water so you don’t rock and roll all day, and many part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of TVs watching football. That is why fall is my favorite time of the year to fish.

Where, When and How To Fish A Jig and PIg

A jig and pig is one of my favorite baits and I have at least one tied on year round. I have caught fish on them every month of the year, both at night and during the day. But I think October through March here in middle Georgia is the best time to fish them. I never hesitate to fish with a jig and pig any time of year, though.

The jig and pig can be fished in many ways. I usually start by dragging it along the bottom for a foot or so then hoping it up off the bottom an few inches. That imitates a crayfish feeding along the bottom then being startled and trying to get a way. When I hit brush I will pull it up a limb then let it fall back a couple of times before pulling it over the limb and letting it fall. That looks like a bream feeding in the brush. Both are effective for catching bass.

Rocks are one of the best places to fish a jig and pig. I will slide the bait along pulling it over rocks and letting it fall between them. I also hop it and pop it over rocks then let it fall back to the bottom. Spotted bass especially like rocks and a small jig and pig is almost irresistible to them. On riprap or bluff banks, I cast right to the edge and move the jig and pig slowly, keeping in contact with the fast dropping bottom. When it falls I keep my line simislack, watching it for a tick or jump until it hits the next step down, let it sit then move it until it falls again.

Around docks I try to get the jig and pig as far back into shady areas as possible. I work the bottom under the dock probing for cover. On docks with posts I pitch to each one, getting my bait right beside it then letting it fall straight down the post to the bottom. When I go over a cross brace I will pull the bait up and let it fall, just like on brush.

Stroking a jig is not something I do a lot but it is effective. Let your jig and pig fall to the bottom by a post, hesitate a few seconds then stroke your rod tip up a couple of feet, then let it fall back. This looks like a bream that gets spooked by a bass and tries to escape and will often trigger a reaction bite.

I use browns in clear water and black and blue in stained to muddy water, and dip the tails in chartreuse JJs Magic. Bream fins and tails have a chartreuse glimmer in bright light and this helps, and spots just love anything chartreuse.

Give a jig and pig a try. You will catch fish on it.

What Is A Jig and Pig for Bass Fishing and Why Should I Use One?

If you read or hear much about bass fishing, you will hear people say they use a jig and pig. But what is a jig and pig and why should you use one to fish for bass?

Lead head jig with rubber skirt and fiber weed guard

Lead head jig with rubber skirt and fiber weed guard

The jig part is a lead head jig with rubber legs or skirt. It may or may not have a weed guard on the hook.

The pig can be several things. The first ones were Uncle Josh Pork Rind Frogs – hence the name “pig.” Now most fishermen use a plastic pig and they can be many shapes and sizes. Some popular ones are chunks – a round body with two legs like the Zoom Chunk. I like a twin curly tail trailer like the Zoom Creepy Crawler or Fat Albert. Others look like crawfish, like the Net Bait Paca Craw. They come in a wide variety of colors.

The pig is attached to the hook of the jig so the body is mostly covered by the skirt and the legs or tails stick out behind the bait.

Bitsy Bug Jig and Creepy Crawler Trailer

Bitsy Bug Jig and Creepy Crawler Trailer

It is important to put the pig or trailer on so it is straight and the legs at a flat plane with the head, perpendicular to the hook. If it is bent the bait may spin and twist your line. If it is at an angle it does not look natural.

The picture above is of my favorite jig and pig – a Strike King Bitsy Bug with a Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer. This one is in browns for clear water. I use a black and blue jig and blue trailer in stained to muddy water. I use a 3/16ths to 1/4 ounce Bitsy Bug and always dip the tips ot the trailer, no matter what color it is, in chartreuse JJs Magic.

For deeper fishing or when the wind is blowing too much for the light jig, I go with the same colors in a 3/8ths to 1/2 ounce Rattleback Jig with the bigger Zoom twin tail Fat Albert trailer. And if I am trying for bigger fish I use the bigger bait. A big bass will hit the smaller bait but I do think bigger fish like bigger baits.

The Bitsy Bug and Creepy Crawler is a great bait for spotted bass but largemouth love it, too. I have done well many tournaments on a variety of lakes on these baits.

A jig and pig can be fished in all kinds of structure and cover. And they can be fished in a wide variety of ways.

Do Moon Phases Affect Fishing?

For many years I have paid attention to moon phases and solunar tables. In a tournament I always try to be on my best spot when the Solunar tables say it is a prime feeding time. I have the Solunar Tables App on my I-Phone and check it before going fishing. Maybe it just gives me a little more confidence, but I think it helps.

Fishing the Moon

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Expert saltwater anglers can tell you the day of every new and full moon in every month of the year, because they depend so much on the big tides that are generated for three days on either side of these strong lunar periods to create lots of current and cause a feeding binge among species like sea trout, redfish and snook.

Does the moon affect fishing?

Does the moon affect fishing?

The full moon–as well as the new moon–can trigger fish spawning activity in freshwater lakes just as both phases do in saltwater, with the spring phases a particularly good time to go fishing. Credit Wikimedia Commons.

The strong moon phases make the high tides higher and the low tides lower, and moving that much water in and out of the estuaries naturally creates lots of tide flow, which pushes the bait around and makes it easy for gamefish to feed, which is why tide tables are so important to coastal anglers.

Freshwater anglers, not so much, but many of us could probably catch more fish more often if we paid closer attention to the big cheese-head in the sky.

Biologists say there’s definitely a surge in spawning activities for many species, including largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills and shellcrackers, on the strong moon periods. They just don’t come in the same months.

Why the pull of the moon seems to affect freshwater fish when there are no noticeable tides in fresh water is hard to figure, but some think it’s a leftover from the days when all fish were saltwater denizens.

The last strong moon period in March is likely to create the first largemouth spawn of the year in North Alabama, provided we get at least a seasonal warm-up. That warm-up now appears likely, and the new moon this month will fall on the 20th. This moon is also prime time for crappies, which will be stacked up around docks and brushpiles all over the TVA lakes as well as at Weiss and other impoundments.

The full moon in April is pretty much a no-brainer–bass are likely to be everywhere in the shallows, no matter what the weather, and there will be another push, often just as big, on the new moon. This year, the April full moon is the 4th, the new moon the 18th–good days to call in sick to work, for sure, if you’re a dedicated trophy bass angler. The fish spawn at depths anywhere from 12 inches to 6 or 8 feet in most of our lakes, frequently choosing spots around docks or other structure where their fry can hide.

A few leftover bass might still be spawning by the full moon on May 4, but by then most of the shallows will have been taken over by bluegills and shellcrackers, which spawn in the shallow bays, frequently on gravel or shell bottom. The May new moon, equally good, is the 18th.

And June can also be prime time for these panfish, though the early full moon on the 3rd is likely to be better than the new on the 16th. However, another player shows up in the shallows in June, and that is the gizzard shad–millions of them swarm into the warm bays to spawn. While anglers don’t fish for this species, they attract some very large bass ready to prey on the easy pickings, so locating an area where the shad are spawning can be key to catching some big largemouths. Shad-like swimbaits are the preferred offering, but spinnerbaits also work well.

Not to say plenty of fish of all these species won’t be caught during the weaker moon phases in spring–the fish are in the shallows, and anytime you can go fishing may be good. But if you can hit the strong phases, you just about assure yourself of good action.

Fishing Tackle Suggestions for New Fishermen

I received the email below from Bob:

Good Morning,
I was on your website and thought that I would write to you for your suggestions and recommendations. It is the Christmas season so I am sure there are a lot of deals out there as well. If you have recommendations as to where to purchase for the best buy that would be an added plus.

I live on a small freshwater lake (Honeoye Lake) in upstate NY and would like to get into fishing. I am a “novice” in the fishing department so that is why I am writing. Our lake is great for large/small mouth bass, walleye, perch and sunfish. What would be your recommendations as brand and models to purchase and why you recommend these:

· Fishing rod –
· Fishing reel –
· Specific Lures for fishing –

Thanks again for your help. Have a great day.


This is my response – What do you think?

Hi Bob

For someone just starting fishing and wanting to fish for a variety of species you mentioned I would get a mid-range priced spinning outfit. I like the Shimano Sedona reel. They are about $60 and I have four I have used for years and they have held up well. Team it with a medium action fast taper rod like the Browning Cherrywood rod for about $25. There are much more expensive rods and I really like St. Croix, but to start a cheaper rod will serve you and you can get a better idea of what you like.

I have both listed on my rod and reel page from Bass Pro Shops at

I use fluorocarbon line but for a beginner I would recommend a line like the Trilene XL in eight to ten pound test. Be careful putting it on and it it is twisted let it out behind a boat slowly moving and reel it in slowly or if you don’t have a boat you can untwist it by stretching it out on the ground and reeling it in slowly.

For lures, keep it simple. A jig head worm and a weightless Senko and small jig and pig all catch smallmouth and largemouth.

I would add a couple of small spinnerbaits and crankbaits, too. And a small top water popper like the Rico or Pop-R are good.

For pan fish live bait is hard to beat and an outfit like this will let you rig a hook and small slit shot to fish them. You might want to drop down to six or even four pound line for them. And if your water is real clear and not much cover, I would fish for bass with six pound line, too.

Hope this helps – let me know if you have other questions.


Do Women Like Saltwater Fishing?

Introducing Women to Saltwater Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

So your wife, girlfriend or daughter wants to try fishing? How you handle her initial experience can make all the difference.

“Daddy, take me fishing,” are four words any fishing father loves to hear from his son, but it has become a more common refrain from daughters-and it’s just as welcomed. In fact, it’s not just daughters showing a greater interest in the sport, but women across the spectrum. That’s a great thing! While fishing is still a male-dominated sport, there has been a steady increase in the number of women fishing alongside men, and a new breed of distaff anglers who get out there and do it on their own.

Everyone likes to catch stripers

Everyone likes to catch stripers

Tangling with a big striper takes skills for success, and both men and women need a bit of instruction before they hook up the first time on a fish this size.

How you manage any newcomer’s introduction to fishing will have an effect on their perception of the sport and their desire to become more involved. With that in mind, there is no one better to consult on this subject than Betty Bauman, founder and CEO of Ladies Let’s Go Fishing (LLFG).

Betty started fishing as a child and shares a deep love of the sport. Throughout her fishing experiences, she has moved from cane poles and ponds to saltwater. The knowledge and skill she has acquired along the way, combined with her winning marketing skills and outgoing personality, have helped her share her passion for fishing with other women interested in getting started in the sport. Her award-winning seminar series, which she affectionately calls the “no-yelling school of fishing,” has successfully introduced over 5,000 women to saltwater fishing.

“As an experienced angler, the first thing you have to realize is that fishing is not simple,” said Bauman. “You can’t just throw someone into a fishing situation without first spending time talking, demonstrating and providing them the opportunity to practice a little.”

There is nothing more frustrating than putting a rod and reel in the hands of someone who has never fished before, expecting them to be able to use it on the water. For an experienced angler, the tools of the trade might be old hat. But for someone who has never fished before, something as simple as operating a reel or feeling a bite can be challenging. If you don’t alleviate the potential for frustration from the beginning, novice anglers simply won’t have a good time. And if he or she doesn’t enjoy the initial experience, chances are unlikely you will gain a new fishing buddy.

Teach someone to fish

Teach someone to fish

Saltwater fishing is a different ballgame from freshwater, requiring bigger boats, motors and tackle-but it’s at least equally fascinating with a good teacher or two.
Betty explained that it’s important for the experienced angler to become a teacher. Stop and think about why you go fishing and convey that message as clearly as you can.

“You have to explain the whole world of magic that emerges when you’re fishing, and do your best to paint a picture of that magic before she sets foot on a boat,” she advised.

Tell her about the fish you plan to catch, and show her pictures of them. Tell her about the habitat they live in, what they eat, and how you plan to fish for them. Let her know there is so much more to fishing than the act of fishing itself. There will be opportunities to commune with a wide range of sea life; birds, porpoises, sea turtles and hundreds of species of fish, while you’re out on the water. It broadens the experience and takes some of the emphasis off catching fish.

Spend a little time explaining the various techniques: trolling, casting, jigging, bottom fishing. Don’t just show her a lure or a bait rig and tell her this is what we are going to use. Explain how it works and how to use it. She won’t remember everything – no one can. (You didn’t in the beginning either.) But that’s not important first time out; it’s just a good way of showing her that fishing, like any sport, isn’t as easy as it might look. It requires some education and experience to become proficient.

The time for instruction is before you actually get on the boat to go fishing. Teach her about the tackle you plan on using for her first on-water experience, and let her handle it. Show her how to operate the reel, and explain how it works in conjunction with the rod, not just as a casting tool, but as a fish fighting tool. Explain the principle of the drag system and how it comes into play to prevent the line from breaking when a large fish is hooked.

Anyone would be proud of this striper

Anyone would be proud of this striper

Giant stripers like this one don’t come along every day, but when they do, any angler can truly appreciate them.

If you’re using spinning tackle, explain the importance of not reeling when a fish is pulling line off the reel. Teach her how to use the rod to lift and retrieve when fighting a fish. If she will be casting on her first outing, show her how so she understands the basic principles. You should include a practice session with you standing by as her mentor ready with words of encouragement and suggestions on how she can improve when she is doing something wrong. No matter what happens stay cool, keep positive and make the learning experience as pleasant as you possibly can. According to Betty the two most important words to use at times like these, no matter what happens, are “It’s OK.”

If she is not familiar with the boat and how to fish from it, there is that much more to explain. You can also explain how to control a fish at boatside, whether it is to be netted, gaffed or released. Tell her why a lot of fish are released either voluntarily or because of regulations. And be sure to cover the importance of wearing appropriate clothing so she is comfortable for her first fishing experience. Clothing will vary depending on where you are fishing and the time of year, but it is an important topic. Be sure she brings sunglasses and sunscreen, and if there is any chance she might have a predilection for seasickness, simple over-the-counter remedies are cheap insurance for a nice day on the water.

Plan her first fishing experience to appeal to her, not you. Pick a target species that is abundant, easy to find and requires simple skills to catch. Consider keeping the time on the water brief instead of forcing her to get up at sunrise and drag herself back after a ten-hour day on the water.

The most important thing for any newcomer to the sport isn’t catching a big fish or great quantities of fish, it’s catching a fish – period. For that reason, you might consider a morning or afternoon of bottom fishing with simple bait rigs that don’t require a lot of casting. Pick a nice day, anchor on a productive spot, bait her hook, have her drop it to the bottom. Explain what a bite feels like and how to set the hook when she feels one. All she has to do is catch a fish or two, and you’re well on your way to fulfilling all her initial expectations of fishing. From there it’s a matter of moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for her, and seeing how her interest grows. You might be surprised when she starts asking you to teach her more and mentions trying different types of fishing for different species of fish. After all, it is the most addictive of sports whether you’re a man, woman or child.

If you’d like to learn more about Betty Bauman and her educational seminars for women go to