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Fishing Basics

  1. If you're planning to fish in fresh water (and, in some states, in salt water) anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, you will need a fishing license. You should also be acquainted with the open seasons, minimum sizes (how big a fish has to be in order to be kept by the angler), and creel limits (how many of those fish you can keep in one day's fishing).
  2. A fishing reel holding fishing line attached to a fishing rod[em]a long, slender, flexible, and lightweight tube made of fiberglass, graphite, or a composite. Fishermen use rod, reel, or line to cast, hook, and retrieve fish.
  3. Many deep-discount department stores sell fishing tackle (some even specialize in it). They offer decent selections and their prices are good. However, the sales clerk may not be well acquainted with the merchandise, and may not be able to offer much assistance. If you need sales help, you're much better off patronizing a small tackle shop staffed with knowledgeable employees. You'll pay a bit more for your tackle, but with it will come expertise.
  4. Make sure the water you're fishing isn't so polluted that the fish you catch will be unfit for consumption[em]or even devoid of fish. Large amounts of foam in quiet waters of a stream or near a lake's shoreline, an unpleasant odor, or a constant brownish or milky hue generally indicate pollution.
  5. If the only place you have to fish received a lot of pressure from other anglers, try to get there as soon as possible, before anyone else gets there. Then walk around a bit, away from those well-worn spots and trails created by fishermen. The combination of fishing at first light, in areas that are rarely cast to, may result in a strike from a fish bigger than you thought existed there.
  6. The lack of "no Trespassing" signs does not necessarily indicate freedom to walk onto private land. In some states, landowners can press charges against trespassers only if the property is clearly posted in a manner prescribed by law, but other states don't require posting. If you're not sure about trespassing laws in your area, contact your state's fish and game department.
  7. Some fishing lures are good at catching fish, others are good at catching fishermen. When you're buying lures, don't fall for fancy packaging or ornate designs. A good lure either imitates the natural forage of the water you intend to fish[em]long, slim, sliver minnows, perhaps; or small crayfish[em]or will provoke a strike because of its action in the water.
  8. An anadromous fish is one that migrates from the ocean to a freshwater river to spawn, such as shad and striped bass. Salmon that have been transplanted to the Great Lakes still exhibit this behavior, moving from the lake to a tributary to spawn. Fish that migrate from freshwater rivers to oceans in order to spawn are called catadromous fish.
  9. Because fish don't like bright light, casting to large areas of shallow, sunlit waters is usually wasted time. This is one reason why dawn and dusk are usually good times to fish. also, If you can easily see a fish, that means it can also see you, and any sudden movement will scare it into hiding. Back off slowly and cast from a distance.
  10. Fish eggs are popular forage for many fish, notably rainbow trout and steelhead (which are ocean or Great Lakes rainbows that spawn in rivers). A popular bait for both fish are salmon eggs, which are sold in jars. One pea-sized egg is usually impaled on a similar-sized gold-colored hook. Often the pale yellow salmon eggs are dyed in bright colors (usually orange) and/or scented for extra fish appeal.
  11. Although you can use lures and baits that are a bit lighter or heavier than recommended for a particular rod, don't stray from the recommended line strength range. Line that is lighter than recommended won't cast well and will break more easily. Using line that is much heavier than recommended may harm the rod itself, and may even break it if your hook is snagged and you pull the rod too hard.
  12. You can carry and store rods and reels either assembled or taken apart, whichever is more convenient. But don't store the rod so it's bent or under pressure, as doing so will damage the rod or create a permanent curve in it.
  13. Rod handles come in various diameters, so it's important to be sure the rod(s) you want fits your hands. You should be able to cast the rod repeatedly and hold it in various positions without experiencing fatigue or cramping. Cork handles can be sanded down if they feel too large.
  14. You can tell a good drag by how the line comes off the spool. Good drags give up line smoothly and evenly; poor drags do so with halts and jerks. Avoid using reels with poor drags, as they may cost you a trophy fish one day.
  15. With any rod, you'll know if you're casting correctly if you watch the rod tip. The rod must "load," that is, gain energy by bending at the tip to impart speed to the lure. As you bring the rod forward to cast, the rod tip should be bent back a bit behind (away from) you. If it's not bending, you're not being forceful enough with the forward motion.
  16. It's a good idea to practice casting in a yard, field, or park. Avoid casting on pavement or hardtop as your line may abrade with repeated casts.

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