So you want to start fishing, do you? I don’t blame you. Fishing is FUN and can be a way to add fresh food to the table! I won’t say “free food” because it typically isn’t – you will end up paying for the fishing gear and if you have a boat you’ll be paying for fuel and other boating costs. But fishing can be a way to add some incredible tasting fresh food to your dinner table.
Most other articles I have read about how to start fishing talk about the gear you should buy and fishing techniques for beginners. I have a completely different approach, because going out and buying gear and then fishing somewhere on your own in the beginning can be expensive and very frustrating – so much so that it may lead you to give up.
What I’m going to focus on is how to get started fishing as soon as possible, with the highest chance of you catching something to get you hooked on fishing. Pun intended.
Where & how to get started fishing
Here are a few different ideas how you can get started fishing to see if you like it before you invest a lot of money on gear, bait and other costs and hopefully come home with some fish to eat the first day!
Hire a fishing guide or charter captain
Depending where you are, and the type of fishing you want to get into you may have some guides or charter captains who can take you out for the day, and almost virtually guarantee to catch fish. These men and women are professionals and spend their work week learning every technique they can, putting it to practice and finding patterns for fishing. They can take you out and show you the ropes. You won’t need any fishing gear and in many cases you won’t need a license either. Just show up, go fishing and have fun!
If hiring a captain for yourself is too costly, look at ways to split the cost with friends and family or on “split charters” where the captain will arrange for a few different people who don’t know each other to go at once.
I personally am a big fan of splitting a private charter with a group of friends. You’ll have a great time hanging out and fishing together and already have the comfort of friends who you know so the pressure can be less.
Go on a “head boat” or “party boat” fishing trip
Head boats, also known as party boats, are larger boats which take larger groups fishing – some times as many as 50 people at a time, or more all depending on the size of the boat.
Head boats can also be a way to meet other people in your area who already know how to fish and you might be able to make some new friends to learn from.
For beginners, I recommend trying to find a day that isn’t going to be as crowded because the more people you have on the boat, the more challenging it can be to stay away from line tangles and have space to move.
Join a group
Try to find a group of people who enjoy fishing and see if you can join, even if to just watch, learn and be the bait boy (better yet if you’re a girl!) for the day. Church groups, schools if you’re still in school otherwise it would be CREEEEEPY, Facebook and Meetup.com could be places to start looking.
Try it on your own
If you’re really wanting to buy some gear and try it on your own, then go for it. This is how I got started when I got serious about fishing, but in all fairness I’d been fishing before in my life so I knew I’d like it. The first time I went fishing was a trout farm with my grandfather, and a few times later in life I went with friends who had gear I could use.
So if you want to get started on your own then head on over to your local fishing store, bait shop, Bass Pro or West Marine. Try to find someone who works there that is patient and will show you what you need at a minimum to get started without trying to sell you on too much stuff.
The most basic kit of fishing gear will vary greatly based on the type of fishing you want to do, and where you want to do it. Fly fishing on a stream in Canada is not equal to trolling for Dolphin or Tuna off Miami. You’ll need to learn what you need and budget accordingly.
Learn at home
If you plan to try on your own or go on a head boat or with a group of friends, it doesn’t hurt to learn some things at home first. Here’s a couple things you can do to prepare:
Learn fishing knots. Without knowing the right knots, you’re going to loose fish. Invest in a good book on fishing knots and practice until you know them by memory.
Learn your local fisheries. Find out what kinds of fish are in your area, when they’re there and how to target them. Research online by searching Google or Bing and watch videos as mentioned below. Learn the local fishing regulations.
Watch videos. Watch fishing videos on YouTube especially the “how-to” videos for fishing in your area or targeting your intended species.
No matter how you decide to get started you will need patience. The saying “It’s not called catching” is very applicable, especially when first starting out.
Try to remember what you did that worked, and what you did that didn’t work. Keep notes and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Most of all, have fun learning to fish!
Don’t get discouraged. Fishing can be a great time with friends, much needed solitude or a nice day on the water with your significant other. Life is short – Make the best of it and enjoy!