So you want to go fishing? These basics will get you started.

A Fishing License. You will need a license for the state in which you will be fishing. If you’re going to be fishing once or twice you might just get a one-day or short-term fishing pass, if you think you’ll fish more than that then an annual license will be worth it. The cost depends on the state and your residency status. Those under 16 usually fish for free in most states. Licenses can be obtained online or at licensed retailers (such as tackle shops, sporting goods stores, Walmart or even Bi-mart).

Fishing Tackle & Gear. For beginners, you will need some basic fishing equipment. You can find fishing tackle and gear at local sporting goods stores, tackle shops, and online retailers. You may want to add more lures or gear as you gain more experience, but a simple list of basics can help you get started right away.

From a tackle and gear perspective, here is everything you need to start fishing freshwater lakes or ponds:

  • Spinning rod and reel combo (light to medium light for pan fish, medium action for bass or catfish)
  • Monofilament fishing line (4 to 6-pound test for pan fish, 8 to 12-pound test for larger species like bass or catfish)
  • Hook assortment (size 8 for pan fish, up through 2/0 for bass or catfish)
  • Bait (such as live crickets for bluegill or earthworms for bass)
  • Bobbers
  • Sinkers or split-shots
  • Lures (jigs or small spinner baits are two good options for beginners)
  • Pliers with a line cutter

Choosing a Place To Fish The next step is to choose a fishing spot. Small lakes or ponds are good options when you’re just getting started because most lakes have banks, docks, or piers that make accessing them easy and calmer waters can make fishing easier. The fish that beginners typically target when fishing lakes include largemouth bass, bluegill, perch, and catfish. Checking on the internet or downloading an app such as Fishbrain are also helpful resources.

Learn About & Practice Conservation Fishing conservation means being respectful of the environment, taking care of our natural resources, and being respectful of other anglers.

  • Don’t keep more fish than you and your family can eat.
  • It is important to learn proper catch and release techniques to ensure that any fish you don’t keep, either because they are not within the regulations or you are fishing for sport, will have the best chance of survival.
  • Pick up any litter you see on the water and pack out what you pack in.
  • Know the fishing regulations (including size limits, bag limits) in the state and the waterways you plan to fish.
  • To keep up with changes to fishing regulations and laws, check your state agency’s website frequently.
  • If you are fishing from a boat, avoid powering through rooted aquatic vegetation.

By conserving fish populations, we can ensure that fishing opportunities will persist for future generations of anglers.

Skills You Can Use When you start fishing, you will need to learn some basic skills such as tying knots, casting and how to land a fish.

There are many tutorials on the internet to help you learn the 3 basic fishing knots which are:

  • Arbor Knot to connect your fishing line to your reel.
  • Surgeon’s Knot to connect your fishing line to your leader.
  • Clinch Knot to connect your fishing hook to your fishing line or leader

Get tips on how to cast a fishing rod by watching online videos. The more time you spend practicing and casting at specific targets, the more accurate your casting becomes.

How to land your fish…again, you can watch videos online or read a few tips that will help you keep more fish on the end of your line when you land your catch on the pier, bank, or boat.