Compared to ocean fishing, freshwater fishing is a lot easier to get into since it doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Plus, you can do it in several fishing spots! And while there are a lot of giant freshwater fish species, such as catfish and northern pike, the shallow waters are also home to small fish, which are excellent for beginners.
Before you gather your fishing gear, it’s vital to think about what fish species you would like to catch since. After all, different fish species require unique fishing baits and techniques. When deciding where to go fishing, it’s always good to look at the forecast and environmental factors beforehand. Also, check with state fishing regulations and acquire the proper fishing license.
If you want more similar tips, stay with us through this freshwater fishing guide as we bring you some of the essential fishing tips for novices!
Freshwater Fishing Tips For Beginners
There is nothing like reeling in a big catch to get you excited about fishing! Beginners will catch more fish the more prepared they are. But catching is a process that requires the proper fishing gear and a lot of patience, so brace yourself!
As a novice fisherman, here are some strategies to help you catch more fish.
First Tip: Safety Is Paramount
As we mentioned above, before setting out to fish, it’s crucial to acquire the correct fishing license and check with the different state fishing regulations. You don’t want to go fishing without a license since it may get you into trouble. Therefore, we suggest you abide by local laws and avoid fishing in areas with no restrictions.
Next, look up the weather patterns online before setting off on your adventure. Avoid fishing if the forecast predicts a lightning thunderstorm, and if it does start while you’re out, return to shore quickly.
Fishing hooks are another potential hazard. When handling these items, be aware that they are sharp. Before commencing a throw, glance around to ensure the coast is clear.
Everyone should wear a life jacket if they want to angle in an open-style fishing boat. That is usually a standard procedure for youngsters under the age of 12. When you’re near a large body of water, safety should be your first concern.
Anyone new to the sport who feels comfortable enough to get inside the cold water should put on a pair of waders before venturing into the water. A wader belt is an additional piece of clothing we recommend you wear when going fishing. That is an elastic belt that prevents any liquid from getting in your waders.
Finally, keep yourself hydrated by packing lots of water or other beverages. You never know when thirst will strike, especially on a scorching day!
Second Tip: Use The Right Fishing Rod and reel
Our next piece of advice for freshwater fishing rookies is to obtain the appropriate rod and reel! It is common for anglers to pick between a spinning or baitcasting rod when purchasing their equipment. The reel attachment point is the simplest method to detect the distinction between these two types of rods.
The reel usually dangles from the bottom of the spinning rod. However, there is no attachment point on a casting rod. We advise newbies in freshwater fishing to use a reel and a spinning rod to make the process easier. Unless you’re teaching youngsters, we recommend you use a spin cast reel to teach them how to fish.
Another reason we favor this setup is that it makes casting a lot less complicated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fishing freshwater or saltwater; this is an essential ability. You may always upgrade to a baitcasting rod and reel as you acquire expertise.
You may also end up with, a backlash, which results from a twisted line caused by casting errors. Poor casting, windy weather, or the obscene amount of line on the reel all contribute to such mistakes. Because of the backlash, bait casting set-ups are most suitable for skilled anglers.
Where to go Freshwater Fishing?
To begin freshwater fishing, you’ll need to know where to look. Thankfully, there’s no lack of places to do so, whether natural or artificial. In the end, where you decide to throw your line is determined mainly by the kind of fish you’re hoping to capture.
Therefore, you may angle at the following locations:
- Natural lakes. Plate tectonics, melting glaciers, and other natural occurrences have resulted in many natural lakes, from tiny alpine lakes to great lakes. You may do lake fishing near the headwaters of river streams.
- Rivers and streams. Anglers may fish on rivers and streams while kayaking, canoeing, and wading, making this one of the most practical ways to angle. Ensure you’re river fishing in an area where the fish are safe from predators and the current and submerged trees.
- Artificial lakes. Artificial lakes have water levels that vary more often than natural lakes due to damming or mining.
- Reservoirs and flowages. Building a dam to a river or stream bed creates reservoirs and flowages. If you want to catch fish in these channels, look for places where the water depth or structure changes.
- Ponds. People build ponds on public or private property since people often use them for leisure or agricultural reasons. Ensure that you have permission from the property owner before fishing on a private pond and observe all state fishing restrictions.
When to go Freshwater Fishing?
Freshwater fish respond to their surroundings in the same way other living things do. That means the weather is a critical component to investigate before departing to try any form of fishing.
In reality, the moon and the sun play a key factor concerning when time is optimal to fish. Some skilled fishermen schedule to angle on days approaching key moon phases, as these may be great times to angle. You need to know how the following things will affect your freshwater fishing experience if you want to be a successful freshwater fisherman.
Below, you can read about how seasonal changes can further affect your angling experience:
- Spring turnover: Eventually, when the surface water warms, it sinks and is replaced by cooler, deeper water. One may expect this exchange to halt if water temperatures are consistent throughout a large body of water. Make sure you fish in shallower seas to better your odds of a catch.
- Summer stagnation: Stratification, the formation of a warm layer on top of cooler water, occurs in the summer because the water’s surface heats up. The thermos cline, deep between two and ten feet, separates these two levels. That makes it the best place to fish during periods of standstill.
- Fall turnover: When the top of the water starts to cool, it will gradually mingle with the colder, deeper waters below, providing a constant temperature that encourages the fish to move around more freely. That usually makes it more challenging to discover and catch the fish.
Influence of temperature changes
You should keep in mind that every kind of fish has a specific temperature range in which it might thrive or not. Lake and pond turnover and the movement of bottom and surface water within a body of water affect water temperature and fish habitat.
During hotter months, warm-water fish eat near the top. During the colder months, they feed towards the bottom. When it’s hotter outside, coldwater fish will eat closer to the surface, whereas they’ll stay further in the water when it’s chillier.
To better understand when to stock up on your fishing gear, combine this information with knowledge of seasonal turnovers and stagnation periods.
Beginners Freshwater Spinning Rod
If you’re looking for a spinning rod, you’ll notice that the blank is rather long and thin. The rod’s bottom contains several guiding rings. The length of a spinning rod may vary from five feet to nine feet. As a novice, you should search for a rod at least six feet and six inches long. I recommend this length for your purposes.
The next thing you must choose is the ‘action’ of the rod, which helps the rod’s flexibility. Making long-distance castings is easier when using an action. To a large extent, each action depends on the kind of fish you want to catch, your casting technique, and the lures you intend to employ.
For starters, we recommend you use a medium-action spinning rod. A medium-action fishing rod bends more in the center of the rod, which is more forgiving for beginners.
A rod’s power rating is the next item we’ll discuss. We can best understand power by acknowledging it is the antithesis of activity. Resistance to flexing is the rod’s measure of power.
The capacity to bend a rod under pressure necessitates this skill (like when a fish bites and fights). You may utilize power ratings to help you focus on certain fish species. Look at the lure and line weight ratings to get a rod’s power rating. You may find the rating on the packaging or on the rod itself.
We suggest you obtain a balanced and powerful rod with medium power, appropriate for a newbie. A rod of six to 12 pounds is ideal.
Match Your Rod With A Spinning Reel
Because fishing is firstly for fun, you shouldn’t worry about your line getting tangled. Instead, make it a necessity to have a spinning reel with your spinning rod. Reels with a spinning action are open-fronted and display the fishing line. The reel’s spool will also revolve as you spin the reel handle.
The Right Spinning Reel Size
So, what size reel should a newbie use after they’ve determined the model? Well, your best bet is to acquire one that is light and well-rounded for a wide range of species.
You can determine the reel’s diameter by looking at the label on the reel or the box. As a general rule, reel sizes are inversely proportional to their rating. Although this information is generally true, it is essential to keep in mind that certain manufacturers may label reels with their ratings. So, ’35’ may be the same as a ‘3,500’ in some cases. Considering that both reels are the same size, this is a bit of a mystery.
Below we show standard lightweight spinning reel sizes for various manufacturers:
- 10 (or 1,000);
- 25 (or 2,500);
- 30 (or 3,000);
- and 35 (or 350/3,500).
The gear ratio is the next number you’ll find on the reel or box. These figures indicate spool rotations per full turn of the reel handle. A 4:1 reel is a slow speed reel, a 5:1 reel is a medium speed, and a 6:1 reel is high speed.
Your next step is to choose a line weight from the list. For example, 6/230 means that 260 is the maximum length of fishing line the reel can hold (measured in yards or meters), and six is the fishing line’s pound weight strength.
We recommend a spinning reel size 35/350/3,500 with a gear ratio of 5:1 is what we recommend for beginners. Depending on the fish they would like to catch, beginners should get a fishing line with eight-pound weight strength and 230 yards long, and they are ready to go! You’ll be able to use this reel as a novice, and you’ll be able to keep using it as you become more experienced.
The cable-like fishing line serves as an intermediary between you and your catch. Anglers place a great deal of importance on the fishing line they use since it can make or break a day of fishing. Similarly, deciding the fishing line to use might be difficult because there are many choices—for example, monofilament, fluorocarbon, braided, and so forth.
Beginners in freshwater fishing should stick to a monofilament line to keep things simple. This variety is less expensive and offers a wide range of tensile strengths for freshwater fishing.
Once you know the kind of line and the pound weight rating, the next step is to choose a length. For example, when boat fishing, you’ll need a line strong enough to support the boat’s weight.
A monofilament line weighing eight or ten pounds is ideal for a beginner. Freshwater anglers will love this set-up.
Popular Freshwater Fish Species
So, we went over the nitty-gritty of angling, but we haven’t discussed favored fish species yet! Let’s dive right in:
- Largemouth bass. You can find the most popular freshwater game fish, largemouth bass, in every state’s waterways.
- Spotted bass. This species of freshwater fish, which may also refer to as spotty or spots, is a member of the sunfish family and swims in North American waters. It gets its name from the rows of black dots that appear below the lateral line.
- Black crappie. Crappie is among the most popular freshwater fish species among novice fishers.
- Channel catfish. Channel catfish are quite common fish species in the Midwest because they are both fun to catch and a tasty treat.
- Rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are a popular target for fly fishers because of their distinctive color and patterning.
- Walleye. Walleyes are a common freshwater game fish throughout the United States.
- Northern pike. This is a predatory fish species that, as the name suggests, lives in the northern parts of the US. It can grow much more prominent than other species, and it requires a bit of expertise to catch one.
- Redear sunfish. This freshwater fish is endemic to the southern United States and is also known as the shellcracker, Georgia bream, and cherry gill. It usually swims in waterways throughout North America and gained its popularity as a sport fish. Snails and other mollusks are a standard part of its diet.
Once you discover the fish, the objective is to get them to eat your hook. Each style of fishing has a distinct advantage over the others when capturing a particular species of fish. A good day on the water is about knowing what strategy to employ and when to utilize it.
It’s possible to cover more ground while fishing from a boat than when standing on land. You can also do this by going to more remote locations, many of which have deeper water. There are many different boats for various types of water and unique purposes.
It is possible to go fishing in a canoe, a skiff, or a Jon boat on minor streams, rivers, and lakes. For fishing in larger areas of water, we recommend using v-hulls, cathedral hulls, or specialized sportfishing boats. They are also fantastic for more harsh angling conditions.
To troll, you must drag lures or baits behind a slowly moving boat to cover a lot of water. Trolling might be a great way to go if you’re out to capture smaller fish. With a winch and weight, downrigging is a technique of trolling that enables anglers to target fish at a specified depth. You may adjust the depth of your lure by using downriggers to keep it flowing at that depth, from just below the surface to 200 feet below the surface.
Our first fishing experience was on a lake or pond for many of us. Starting with only a simple rod and reel was all we required to begin our angling escapades. Once you throw the bait, it remains where it is for the duration of the fishing session.
Many anglers opt to continue with still fishing rather than switch to fly or spin fishing with practice. Still, fishing is a straightforward process that takes nothing from special equipment or technical know-how. It may provide excellent results, especially if done from a boat that can put you in the most advantageous position.
Flipping and Pitching
Anglers use a technique known as ‘flipping’ to position a lure in a specific location with the least amount of disruption. Flipping works best with a motionless bait in murky water or dense vegetation. Spinnerbait flipping and pitching, a similar technique, has gained much attention as bass fishing has become more popular. The line should be fed back through the guides when you lower and raise the rod throughout the flipping process after releasing a small quantity of line (around 10 feet).
Using an underhand pitching motion, release the lure from your hand while allowing the line to pass through the guides. It’s common for flipping sticks to be 7.5-foot-long rods used to flip docks, grass, timber, or other covers that need a silent presentation and pinpoint precision.
Fly fishing employs artificial bait, a.k.a. imitations of insects, flies, and animals, to entice and capture fish. Flyfishers, who initially concentrated on trout and salmon, have taken all game and panfish species.
To throw a fly, anglers need to use fly fishing rods and lines mainly built for this purpose. Many fly anglers employ small boats, including kayaks and canoes, for difficult-to-reach spots on the water.
Freshwater Fishing Bait
Different species require a different type of baited hook. If you want to catch bass, crappie, northern pike, or any other freshwater fish, you need to use fresh-water fishing bait.
There are as many varieties of the bait as there are fish. That makes for a challenging selection for a novice fisherman. However, by asking yourself three questions and consulting with some local experts, you may get a fair sense of what you need:
- What kind of fish are you trying to catch? Knowing what your intended prey species eat is critical for selecting bait.
- What bait type are you looking to obtain? Typically, anglers make this option based on personal taste or previous experience. For example, live bait is usually used for still fishing, while artificial bait is for fly fishing.
- How much bait are you going to need? Fish are notoriously inconsistent in their behavior. You’ll catch fish after fish and use the same bait the day before, and the following day you’ll capture nothing but them. If you’re not sure how much bait to use, keep in mind that having a few alternatives increases your chances of landing a fish if one of them doesn’t work. Talk to local anglers and select the three most popular baits they use to catch the species you want to capture.
Total length measurement
To accurately measure the fish’s overall length, you must seal the mouth and clamp the tail together. A simple method for determining the fish’s overall size is to close its tail fin and put its nose up against a vertical surface with its mouth shut.
The caudal (tail) fin will close shut before taking the final measurement. Do not use a flexible tape measure to measure the fish’s curvature. In contrast, most marine (saltwater) rules refer to ‘fork length,’ and scientists frequently use ‘standard length,’ which extends to the ending of the fleshy section of the body.
Tailors’ fabric rulers are ideal for determining waist circumference. Another great idea is to draw a thread around the fish where it’s the widest. Then, you’ll see where the string overlaps, and measure the distance with a ruler.
Perpendicular to the fish’s length, take the measurement. This measurement is similar to determining a person’s waist circumference. If you’re attempting to get a fish certified for a record, it’s crucial to know its perimeter, which tells scientists about its overall health.
Take Care of Your Catch Post Freshwater Fishing
You may keep fillets at 40 degrees or lower in the refrigerator for two days. You should also pat fillets dry before storing them in a zip-top plastic bag. If you need to keep your food in the freezer longer than three months, you should use vacuum-sealed freezer bags. You may learn more about how to preserve your catch by consulting the FDA’s online website.