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Tips on Learning How to Fish

Spring fishing season has arrived! If you are an inexperienced angler and would like to try fishing for the first time, follow these few tips for your preparation. Even if you are an experienced angler, these tips will refresh your memory for your fishing adventures.

Fishing License

A fishing license is one of the most important things that you will need in order to go fishing. Each state has their own rules and regulations, so it is important that you read up on them before heading out. All fishing rules and regulations will be under Fishing > Rules and Regulations in your Fishing and Wildlife Pocket Ranger® Guide. Licenses can be purchased online. Some states require you to be 18 years or older in order to obtain a fishing license.


Man fishing on a pier alone

Image: www.active.com

Choosing a place to fish can vary. Some people choose locations where they often see people fishing or local places where they may want to start. If you are a beginner and feel shy fishing in front of a heavy crowd, you may want to opt for a quiet fishing area.

You can go freshwater fishing in lakes, ponds, streams or rivers. Or you can choose saltwater fishing such as surf fishing, fishing by boat (party boat or charter boat) or bay fishing.

Time of Day During Spring Season

Two men fishing on a boat during sunset with his catch

Image: jimolive.photoshelter.com

  • Early Morning – Fish do not bite during this time because the water is cold and doesn’t heat up due to the sun being low which makes the rays bounce off the water.
  • Late Morning/Early Afternoon – Fish are biting on and off during this time because the sun’s rays start to penetrate the water. During this time, you should fish towards the downwind shoreline because the wind pushes the warmer surface water into that area.
  • Afternoon/Early Evening – There are a lot of fish eating during this time because their metabolism and digestion are high. The water is also warmer because the sun is directly above.

Fish Species

Images of different fish species

Image: pixshark.com

Focusing on fishing for a particular fish for a beginner may be too difficult, but it’s a worth a try! Here is a list of popular fish to help you choose one to catch:

  • Bass – a southeastern sport fish
  • Striped Bass – you will most likely need a boat to catch these
  • Sunfish – best catch for a beginner angler
  • Walleye and Pike – northern, cold-water lake fish
  • Catfish – vary from small to large

For a complete list of freshwater and saltwater fish, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® Fish and Wildlife Guide.


Man surf fishing pulling in his catch, clear blue water

Image: www.rancholeonero.com

Fishing in a lake from shore – Sit and wait with a bobber and bait. For this type of method, you can use inexpensive equipment.

Surf fishing from a beach – This requires heavy tackle that costs a little bit more. Catches vary day to day with this method.

Pond Fishing – Fishing at a pond can be simple, especially for beginners. It allows you to manage your skills and you may even catch a pan fish for dinner.

Boat Fishing on an Ocean – There are many boating options that are available for fishing. You can pay to go on a party boat for a half day or full day and you can use equipment and bait that is provided to you. Depending on the type of boating you choose and how big the crowd is, you can have assistance such as hooking your bait, casting and landing a fish.

Suggested Gear: 

  • Fishing Rod/Fly Rod
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

Check out more fishing gear at our Pocket Ranger Gear Store.

How to go Crabbing

Ready for your next adventure? If so, then let’s go crabbing! Crabbing is different from regular fishing. You need different catching gear and there’s tons of information you need to know before you try this activity. Here is a simple guide to help you get started.

Blue crab near water and trees in the background

Image: www.floridabeachproperties.us

Important Tips:

  1. Crabs have sharp claws that will pinch you if you’re not careful! If this happens, don’t panic. All you have to do is pull the crab away from you with your other hand.
  2. There are size limits that change annually for crabs, so make sure you read the Rules and Regulations in your state’s Fish and Wildlife Pocket Ranger® app.
  3. The law requires you to release a crab if it has an egg sac.
  4. If the crab dies before it is cleaned, do not eat it. When the crab is no longer alive, a poison is released throughout the crab’s body that ruins the meat.


Crabbing Equipment with grass

Image: indulgeinspireimbibe.blogspot.com

Here is a list of equipment that you will need:

  • A cooler with ice
  • Fold up chair
  • Crab trap
  • Junk knife for bait
  • Thick gloves
  • A net if you are using a hand line
  • Buy bait, preferably anything that is meat

Choosing a location:

Crabs being pulled in a net from water

Image: www.surfingbears.com

After you have chosen a state park that offers crabbing from your state’s Fish and Wildlife Pocket Ranger® app, here are a few steps to follow.

  1. Find a nice spot on the pier or dock that is facing the water.
  2. Make sure that your traps are two feet away from someone else who is also crabbing or fishing. If you don’t follow this step, your lines and traps will get tangled together.
  3.  Make sure your bait is secure inside of your trap.
  4. Crabs are usually found in saltwater marshes, bays, inlets and the ocean. They are usually under docks and bridges.

Your Catch

holding a crab from the back

Image: americantugnews.blogspot.com

In order to avoid getting pinched, follow these steps on how to hold a crab.

  1. Put your foot on the crab to keep it from moving.
  2. With one hand, grab the flipper, which is the last leg, located at its back.
  3. Take your foot off the crab and lift it up.
  4. You can also hold the crab from the bottom.

Remember to read up on the Rules and Regulations and licenses in your state’s Fish and Wildlife Pocket Ranger® app before you lower your first crab pot into the water. And be sure to check out our Gear store for some of the crabbing accessories mentioned above!

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