The term “fishing” refers to the human practice of catching fresh or saltwater fish and invertebrates including crab, clams, mussels, sea cucumbers and similar species. Fishermen may use a variety of gear and techniques to accomplish this, including lines, nets, traps or even capturing animals by hand. An “angler” is someone who specifically uses a rod and line to catch fish, sometimes to provide food, sometimes just for sport.
Fishing successfully requires a lot more than a pole with a hook on the end. Like any outdoor experience, a certain amount of planning and preparation are required if you want to hook anything more than algae. Here are some basic tips if you’re trying your hand at fishing for the first time.
Safety is important. Being safe outdoors and around water should be your first priority. Always tell someone where you’re going or take friends or family with you. If necessary, be prepared to wear water safety gear such as a life vest. See our features on Being Safe Outdoors and Water Safety for additional information.
Do your research. Fish will bite different baits at different times in different areas. There’s no guarantee any fishing trip will result in landing “the big one,” but you can improve your odds if you understand what you’re trying to catch and why.
Understand your gear and techniques. If you’ve never tied on a hook or handled a rod before, you might want to consult with an experienced angler for some tips. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offers affordable fishing classes available to all ages and experience levels.
Make sure you have a proper license. In the state of Oregon, you can’t fish legally without a license. Licenses help the ODFW monitor where fish are being taken and ensure populations are not being overfished. Most licenses are very affordable to buy – and cheaper than a fine. To learn more about obtaining a license, visit the ODFW website.
Choose your fishing spot carefully. If you’ve never cast a line before, there’s no reason to try deep-sea fishing right off the bat. Instead, start out by shorefishing from a small lake or pond. As you become more comfortable with the gear and process, you can try out more challenging locales.
Pick an appropriate bait type and size. Not all fish crave a nice, juicy night-crawler. Depending on species and habitat, different species may prefer grubs, crickets or even artificial baits. As a general rule, baits should be approximately the same size as the hook, and the hooks appropriate for the size of the fish your trying to catch.
Expect problems. Dealing with snags and tangles is just part of the process of fishing. Be prepared to spend some of your time pulling new line and retying your lures. Sometimes you may lose your line and lures altogether. Remember, discarded fishing gear can be a major hazard to wildlife so it should be disposed of whenever you can retrieve it safely.
A good angler is a patient angler. Even the best fisherman in the world will sometimes come home empty-handed. Fishing is not an exact science, so remember that part of the fun is being outdoors and maybe even sharing the experience with friends and family.
A nineteen-year-old Oceancape Network volunteer goes nearshore fishing for the first time. Click here.
You may think fishing is just a relaxing pastime, but it has a much longer and richer history than you think. Click here.