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Fishing Tips - Back to Top

Remember the special enjoyment that you got from fishing with your family? Relaxing in the sun as you soaked in the beauty of nature, far away from the stress of your everyday life. The hours spent sharing stories with your grandfather, teaching your daughter to cast her line, laughing over childhood memories with your brother. Wouldn't you like to experience this again? Fishing gives families a break from their hectic schedules and time to reconnect with one another. Nothing can match the memories that your family will make and the bonds that you'll build while spending time on the water.

Many people assume they can't go fishing because they don't know how to fish or don't know much about fishing. Fishing is something everyone can do and learning to fish is half the fun! Learning together - with your family and friends - is fun, interesting, and easier than you might think.


Why Fish? - Back to Top

Do you remember your first fishing trip? Ask anyone to tell the story of who first took them fishing. Chances are good the story is deeply personal and meaningful. 
Over a dozen studies have shown that being with family and friends, relaxing and being outdoors and close to nature are the primary reasons people spend time on the water. A family doesn't have to spend a fortune on a theme park vacation to have an experience that everyone will enjoy. Although your first meeting with Mickey Mouse will probably be memorable, chances are it will pale in comparison to memories of spending time on the water with the people you love.


Time spent fishing connects family and friends. 
You know how important it is to spend quality time with family and friends. Many of us have seen how outdoor recreation strengthens the family as a unit and children as individuals. So it comes as no surprise that studies have consistently shown that involvement with family members and friends is a primary reason people go fishing.


On the water, there are no cars, no rush hour, no deadlines and a chance to relax.
There are news stories every week about the stress and time crunch felt by working adults and their families. People are searching for ways to escape the daily routine, be closer to nature and focus more on family and relationships. Studies show that people who participate frequently in outdoor recreation are more satisfied with life overall. For a weeklong vacation or just a quiet Saturday morning, recreational fishing is a great way to "get away from it all." Fishing enhances appreciation for the natural world. 
Many Canadians see outdoor recreation as one of the main reasons to protect the environment. Recreation benefits the environment because it gives people a reason to care about the resources upon which their activities depend.


Share your Passion 
You likely remember your very first fishing trip and who took you. And odds are pretty good that it was that experience that's directly responsible for why you're still fishing today. Give back what you've been given and introduce somebody new to the activity that you love. Join thousands of your peers and make a real difference.
So, take someone fishing – a family member, co-worker, neighbor, acquaintance at church or, perhaps, the mechanic who works on your car. Share your knowledge and expertise with someone new.


Types of Fishing Tackle - Back to Top

Fishing tackle is used to get your bait or lure to the fish. You don't need a lot of equipment to begin fishing. In fact, it's a good idea to begin with basic, simple tackle. You can try more difficult tackle after you've mastered some basic skills.


Pole and Line 
The simplest fishing tackle is a pole; however, for some types of fishing, even a soda can with fishing line wrapped around it can be used! The pole can be made of cane, bamboo or a straight piece of tree branch. You do not use a reel with a pole. Cut a piece of fishing line as long as the pole. Tie the line to the tip of the pole and a hook to the other end of the line. A small sinker, called a "split shot," is squeezed onto the line above the hook. The sinker makes it easier to swing the bait out into the water and keeps the bait under the surface. You may also want to use a bobber or float. By moving the bobber up or down the line, you can change the depth of your bait in the water. With a pole and line you can fish the area near the bank, where many fish often live.


Rods and Reels 
Other types of fishing tackle use reels to store large amounts of line. They let you cast a bait or lure farther. They also help you retrieve lures correctly, fish in deeper water, and battle larger fish more easily. There are four kinds of reels: spincast, spinning, baitcast, and fly. Each kind uses a different type of rod. Spincasting


Spincasting tackle is ideal for beginning anglers because it works well and is easy to use. A spincasting rod has small line guides and a straight handle. Spincasting tackle is often used while fishing for bluegill, crappie and other panfish. The spincasting reel mounts on top of the rod's handle. The fishing line comes out of a small hole in a cover on the front of the reel.


Casting With a Spincasting Outfit 
To cast, grip the pistol grip with one hand. If you're right-handed, turn the rod sideways so the reel handle points straight up; if you're left-handed, point the reel handle straight down. Push the reel's thumb button and hold it down. Face your target area and turn your body at a slight angle. The arm holding the rod should be closest to your target. Aim the rod tip toward the target-about level with your eyes. 
Swiftly and smoothly, bend your casting arm at the elbow, raising your casting forearm until your hands reach eye level. When the rod is almost straight up, it will be bent back by the weight of the practice plug. As the rod bends, move your forearm forward with just a slight wrist movement. When the rod reaches eye level, release the thumb button and let the line travel freely. 
If the plug lands close in front of you, you have released the thumb button too late. If the plug went more or less straight up, you released the button too soon. 
Learning how to use a spincasting rod and reel isn't too hard, but it does take practice. Buy a practice-casting plug. This is a rubber or plastic weight without hooks. Then, tie it to the end of the line. Find a spot where you can practice safely. Put a target on the ground about 25 feet away. Practice casting until you can consistently hit the target with your casting plug. Being able to hit a target is much more important than being able to cast a long distance!


Spinning rods have a straight handle with large line guides that are on the bottom of the rod. A spinning reel is often called an "open-face" reel because the spool of fishing line isn't covered. The reel mounts under the handle. Spinning rods and reels allow for more line to be quickly peeled off the reel, allowing for casting longer distances. Learning how to use a spinning outfit may take more practice than spincasting. Casting with a spinning outfit is very similar to using spincasting equipment. However, at the beginning you grasp the spinning rod's handle, placing the reel "stem" between your second and third fingers. Your thumb should be on top of the handle and your forefinger extended to touch the spool cover. With your other hand, rotate the reel spool until the line roller is directly beneath your extended forefinger. Pick up the line in front of the roller with your forefinger and open, or cock, the reel's bail with your other hand. (Some reels have a lever so you can grasp the line and open the bail in one motion.) 
After you have accomplished this procedure, casting is very similar to that for spincasting except that when the rod reaches your eye level as you are casting, you release the line from your forefinger rather than releasing the thumb button. Again, if the plug lands close in front of you, your forefinger released the line too late. If the plug went more or less straight up, you released your forefinger too soon.


A baitcasting rod can have either a pistol-type grip or a straight handle. As in spincasting, the casting reel and line guides are mounted on top of the rod. Unlike the other two types of reels, the casting reel's line spool turns as you cast and can snarl the line if it is not controlled properly. Learning to control this spool makes casting tackle harder for most people to learn, and is considered a skill for advanced anglers.


All reels have an adjustment called a drag that controls how easily the line is pulled off the reel. When set correctly, the drag lets a larger fish pull some line from the reel until the fish becomes tired. Follow the directions that come with your reel to set the drag correctly.


Flyfishing tackle is different from all of the other types. In flyfishing, you are casting the line that carries the "fly." With other fishing tackle the weight of a bait or lure pulls line from a reel. In flyfishing, the reel is only used to store the line. Flycasting is usually the most difficult to learn. However, with proper instruction, anyone can learn.


Saltwater tackle requires special equipment because saltwater will corrode any aluminum, steel or iron parts. The metal parts of saltwater tackle usually are made of stainless steel or nickel chrome. Saltwater tackle ranges from the ultra light equipment used in inshore fishing to the extremely large and heavy tackle for deep-sea fishing.


Ice Fishing 
Ice fishing is a very specialized sport. One- to three-foot rods are most often used. Simple reels are used to hold the line. Ice fishing can also be done with tip-ups. Tip-ups fit over a hole in the ice. When a fish hits, it releases a lever. This causes a flag to tip up, alerting the angler.


Fish Hooks 
Fishhooks come in a variety of sizes and styles. When you fish with natural or live bait, a package with an assortment of hooks ranging from sizes No. 6 through No. 10 is suitable. However, when you fish for catfish or bullheads, larger hooks are needed. The barbs on the hooks can be bent down if you intend to release your catch. This will make your fishing more challenging and reduce fish mortality.


Fishing Line
Fishing line comes in a variety of sizes, or strengths, called pound-test. For example, ten pound-test lines are stronger than four pound-test. You must match the pound-test line to the size of rod and reel, the bait you're using, and the fish you are fishing for. For example, small ultra light spincasting and spinning reels can use up to six pound-test lines. Larger spinning reels can use stronger line. Bait casting reels can use from 6- to 30-pound line, but 8- to 16-pound-test lines are most common. Using heavier line than necessary may reduce the number of bites or strikes you get, because heavy line is more visible in water. 
To connect your line to your hook you need to learn to tie fishing knots . Although dozens of fishing knots are used you only need to learn two or three good knots for most fishing. Go to the section titled, “ HOW TO TIE BASIC FISHING KNOTS” for instructions.


Sinkers range in size from split shot, the size of a BB, to weights of a pound or more. BB-size split shot to 1/4-ounce sinkers are most common. Sinkers allow you to cast your bait and help take it down to the bottom.


Bobbers are used to keep your bait at the depth you want it. They also help you to know when you have a strike. Use a bobber that's just large enough to keep your bait from dragging it under the water. Pencil style bobbers are more sensitive than round ones. Because of this it is easier to tell if a fish is biting. Round bobbers are easier to cast. Slip bobbers can be easily adjusted to allow you to fish at different depths. Their main advantage is that they are easy to cast. They come in both round and pencil styles. Many bobbers attach to fishing line with a spring clip and move up or down the line easily, depending on how deep you want to fish your bait.


Tackle Box 
A tackle box is useful for storing hooks, sinkers, bobbers, lures, and other things you need for fishing. A small, top-opening box with two trays is a good first box. Personal Flotation Device (PFD) 
A personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket, should be part of your essential fishing gear. You should always wear one if you are fishing near deep or fast moving water. When you are fishing from a boat, you must always wear a PFD. If you choose a PFD with pockets, you can also use it as a fishing vest to hold your tackle.


Other Accessories 
Other equipment anglers find useful includes a container for live bait, snaps and swivels, a line clipper, long-nose pliers with wire cutters, a hook disgorger for removing fish hooks, a fish scaler, and a stringer or ice chest to keep your fish fresh. In addition, you should always have your first aid kit with you.


Baits and Baiting Your Hook - Back to Top

As you learn more about fish behavior you'll learn more about how to choose the best bait for different situations. Several types of live or natural bait will help you catch fish. Always check the fishing regulations to make sure the bait you choose is legal for the body of water you are fishing. 
Some of the best baits for freshwater fishing include worms, leeches, minnows, crayfish, crickets and grasshoppers. Good saltwater baits include sea worms, eels, crabs, shrimp, strips of squid, and cut-up pieces of fish.


Worms are good bait for nearly all freshwater and saltwater fish, although sea worms are often used in saltwater fishing. You can find enough worms for fishing from a few shovels of dirt in your garden or from a shaded, damp area. Worms can also be purchased in fishing tackle stores and bait shops. 
If you have small worms, thread the hook through the side of the worm at several places along its body. For bait-stealing fish such as sunfish, thread the worm on the hook until the hook is completely covered.


Minnows must be stored in a minnow bucket with plenty of cool water to keep them alive. Never crowd them. One way to hook a minnow is through both lips, beginning with the bottom lip. You can also hook a minnow through the tail, behind the head, or through the back.


Crickets and Grasshoppers 
Both land and water insects can be used for bait. When using small insects, you should use hooks made of thin wire.


Bait Leeches 
Leeches are excellent bait for many fish. They should be hooked through the sucker in the tail.


Clams, Mussels, and Sea Worms 
These baits are good for perch, drum, sea trout, and rockfish. Completely remove their shell and thread onto the hook.


Shrimp can be used either alive or dead for saltwater fish. Hook the shrimp through the tail. You can also peel off the shell and thread cut up pieces of shrimp on the hook.


Prepared Baits 
For bottom-feeding fish like carp and catfish, bread, small pieces of cheese, and canned corn are good. You can buy commercially made baits. Many anglers, however, like to make their own bait for these fish. Below are two recipes for bait to catch bottom-feeding fish.


Carp Doughballs

You can store the cooked doughballs in the leftover water and molasses. When using doughballs or stinkbait (a smelly catfish bait) use small treble hooks. A treble hook has three points. Some have a spring wrapped around the shank to help hold the bait. Many manufacturers make a variety of "stinkbaits." Homemade stinkbait can be made using the following recipe.


Catfish Stinkbait

When you open the jar, you'll know your catfish "stinkbait" is ready to use.


Lures - Back to Top

Fishing lure companies make lures in many sizes, styles, colors, and patterns. Read the instructions in or on a lure package to learn how to use each lure. Below are a few types of lures.


Jigs have weighted metal heads and a "tail" made of animal hair, soft plastic, feathers, or rubber. Anglers sometimes add a minnow or piece of pork rind to the jig's hook. Jigs can be used to catch nearly every kind of freshwater and many saltwater fish.


Spoons are metal lures designed to look like a swimming baitfish. Many spoons are made to be cast. Others are meant to be trolled behind a moving boat.


Plastic Baits 
Soft-plastic worms, minnows, and crayfish are available in many sizes and colors. You can use them with or without a weight. Sometimes, plastic baits are used with a jig head, spinner or spinnerbait. Some plastic baits have scents attractive to fish built into them.


Plugs have a body made of plastic or wood and are designed to be used on top of the water or at depths below the surface. Topwater or floating plugs are designed to float on the surface. Diving plugs have plastic or metal lips so they will dive to a certain depth. These diving plugs are often called "crankbaits" because they are often used with baitcasting reels that operate like a crank.


Spinners have one or more blades that spin, or revolve, around a straight wire shaft. Some spinners have tails made of soft plastic or animal hair.


Spinnerbaits are lures with one or more blades that spin around a "safety pin"-type shaft. Most spinnerbaits have skirts made from animal hair, vinyl, rubber, or other materials.


Poppers and Flies 
Poppers and flies are small lures used with spincast and flyfishing tackle. These baits are very good for panfish and other fish that feed on the surface such as trout and bass. Fly tying can be a very rewarding hobby.

As you understand more about the environment fish live in and how they behave, you will learn which bait or lure is best for specific fish during different seasons of the year.


Fishing Safely - Back to Top

Fishing Safely 
Fishing isn't a dangerous sport, but you should prepare to keep safe and comfortable in the outdoors. It is possible to get caught unexpectedly in bad weather, encounter insects, spend too much time in the sun, or get caught on a fish hook. 
Wearing the proper clothing helps to protect you from injury. It also keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Rainwear and other gear keep you from getting wet and chilled. Avoid problems by preparing for the unexpected.


Safety Around Water
Water accidents claim many lives each year. Obviously you will be around water if you are fishing and accidents can happen at any moment, sending you into the water. A bank can give way if you are careless onshore. You can slip on a rock, step into a deep hole while wading, or fall out of a boat. 
Anglers should learn how to swim and use caution around water at all times. You should always use the "buddy system" and have a friend or an adult with you in case something goes wrong.


Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) 
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), often called "life vests," are not just for wearing in boats. Anytime you are on or around deep or fast moving water, it is always best to be wearing your PFD. Canadian Coast Guard laws require you to have an approved PFD when you are in a boat. The rules say a boat must have one PFD for each person on board. Certain types of boats must also have a cushion or ring that can be thrown to a person in the water.


There are several rules you should follow for safe wading.Always wade with another person.

While wading you can protect your ankles by wearing high-top shoes or wading boots. Long, lightweight pants can protect you from jellyfish and sea nettles in saltwater and from snags and rocks in freshwater.


Reach-throw-row-go is a method of rescuing a person who falls overboard or an angler or swimmer in trouble. 
The first safety step is to REACH out with an oar, tree limb, or other long object if the person is close to you. If you can't reach the person, then THROW them a life-saving device. This can be a boat cushion or ring that floats. If possible, it should be tied to the end of a line so you can pull the person to you. If a cushion or ring isn't handy, anything that floats can be thrown. Plastic coolers, ski belts, or even beach balls can be used in an emergency. 
If there is nothing to throw, ROW a boat to the person in trouble. There should be someone else in the boat to help pull the person in trouble into the boat. The person should be pulled in over the stern, or back, of the boat. If the boat has a motor, it must be shut off before you get to the person in the water. Don't let the person try to climb in over the side of a small boat. This can tip the boat over. If the boat is small, have the victim hang on the gunwales, and tow him to shore. 
Swim out to save the person in trouble ONLY as a last resort and ONLY if you are an experienced lifeguard or have had life-saving training. Going into the water after the person in trouble is very dangerous. People who are drowning often panic and injure or even drown someone trying to rescue them. Going quickly for help is often the best choice.


If you fish, you should know how to swim for your own safety. Many young anglers like to go for a swim during a fishing trip just for fun or to cool off. Don't swim if there is any doubt about your ability. Never dive into the water of an unknown area and don't swim after a heavy meal or in cold water. Swim only when an experienced swimming partner is with you.


Safety With Fishing Equipment
Handle your fishing equipment responsibly. Hooks can be dangerous if you do not handle them properly. Look behind you before you cast to make sure your hook will not be caught on a power line, a tree, or a person. If you leave your tackle lying on the ground, another person can trip on it and fall, step on a hook, or break your tackle. 
Take caution and use long-nose pliers to help remove hooks from a fish. If a hook is deep inside the fish, either cut off the line and leave the hook in the fish, or use a hook disgorger. Hooks left in fish will work themselves free or rust out. 
When transporting your equipment, remove the hook or lure from your line and store it in your tackle box.


Fishing in warm weather - Back to Top

Because the hot summer sun is harmful your skin must be protected as much as possible when fishing. Long pants and long shirtsleeves provide better protection than shorts and short sleeved shirts. In warm weather lightweight and light-colored clothing reflects the sun and is cooler. Dark clothing is warmer because it absorbs heat. 
Even in warm weather it's a good idea to take a sweater or jacket and rain gear. Even though it may be warm during much of the day, many fishing trips begin early when it's still chilly and end late in the evening when it gets cool. 
Western-style hats offer good protection from glare and against sunburn. Lightweight, light-colored, baseball-style caps are also popular and will help keep you cooler. Hats also protect your head from hooks on poor casts.

A pair of high-top sneakers is ideal for protecting your feet from sharp rocks and glass while wading in the summer. They will also protect your feet while you are fishing from the bank. For fishing from a boat wear shoes designed to keep you from slipping on a wet boat deck (boat shoes).


Fishing in cold weather - Back to Top

If you fish in cold weather, several layers of clothing can keep you warm. Clothing layers trap air between them and offer great insulation. As it warms up during the day, you can always take off some of the clothing. 
Long underwear, a warm shirt, and warm pants help to hold your body's heat. Additional layers of clothing can include an insulated vest and a rain parka, which are also good for keeping you warm on cold, windy days. 
Caps and hats are important. They prevent loss of body heat from your head-and-neck area. Headgear used for fishing during the winter should protect most of your head, including your ears. Some good choices are an insulated hat or cap or a wool stocking cap. A knit scarf can protect your neck. 
Fishing is difficult with most gloves. There are gloves, however, that let you tie knots and handle fishing tackle. They include lightweight rubber gloves and "hunter/fisherman's gloves," gloves that have a flap so you can expose your fingers. Gloves without fingertips are also good. 
Before fishing on ice, it is a good safety practice to check the thickness of the ice. Drill a hole with an ice auger near shore and along your route of travel, measuring the thickness of the ice as you move. Do not fish on ice unless it is at least four inches, and preferably more, thick. Thinner ice is dangerous because it can break easily. 
You need warm clothing, long underwear, pants and shirt for cold weather and ice fishing. 
A snowmobile suit and insulated boots with thick soles are ideal. A warm hat, heavy gloves, and a skier's mask are also needed. Hand warmers are also helpful. A personal flotation device, when worn under clothing, provides extra warmth and also emergency flotation if you go for an unexpected icy plunge.


General Protection Items Needed for All-Weather Fishing - Back to Top

Anglers should avoid sun tanning, which is harmful to the skin. We get vitamin D from the sun, so it can be helpful. However, too much sun can cause skin cancer. A sunscreen lotion can and should be used to keep the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin. One with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 on the label gives good protection.


All anglers must have rainwear. Several styles are available. A rain poncho is good, but many anglers prefer a two-piece rain suit with a jacket and pants. 
Good rainwear is waterproof, not just water-repellent. It should have a full hood to protect your head, a storm flap over the jacket opening, a zipper, buttons or snaps, and elastic around the cuff and ankle openings to keep water out.


Sunglasses protect your eyes against the sun's glare from the water. Many anglers like polarized sunglasses that reduce glare and let them see below the surface of the water to spot fish and other objects. Some sunglasses are treated to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet light rays.


Hip Boots and Waders
Hip boots and waders are designed to keep you dry and protect you against the chill of cool water. For cold-water wading, wear insulated boots. Hip boots only come up to your hips and are held in place with belt straps. Waders come up to the top part of your chest. They are held in place by suspenders and you should wear a belt on the outside. They will protect you while surf fishing, wading a stream, or fishing in deeper water. 
Under most circumstances, if you fall in the water with your hip boots on, do not try to remove them; first bend your knees. Air trapped in the boots will make them float at the toes. This can help keep you afloat as you paddle toward shore.


Basic First Aid - Back to Top

Removing a Hook From Your Skin
Occasionally an angler will get a fish hook in the skin. Removing a fish hook is best left to a doctor or a hospital's emergency room. Once a fish hook enters the skin beyond the barb, it is hard to remove. Never remove a hook from around a person's eyes, face, the back of the hands, or any area where ligaments, tendons, or blood vessels are visible. 
There is a method that can be used to remove a hook if it is not in a vital area. First cut the hook away from the rest of the fishing lure. Then, put a loop of heavy twine or fishing line around the bend of the hook. Next, hold down the eye and shank of the hook, pressing it lightly to the skin. Grasp the loop in the line and, with a sharp jerk, pull the hook free. 
Any hook wound should be followed by a tetanus shot if the victim has not had one in the past five years.


Cuts and Bleeding
In all cases of serious bleeding where there is a large or deep cut, call a doctor, get the victim to a hospital, or call paramedics at once. Small cuts can be handled by adhesive bandages and antiseptic. For large or deep cuts, pressing directly on the wound with a clean gauze pad or handkerchief will reduce bleeding. Use the procedure taught at Red Cross training courses to ensure that proper amounts of pressure are applied.


Hypothermia means your body is losing heat faster that it can produce it. Without treatment your life is in danger. Exposure to the cold along with wind, wetness and exhaustion causes hypothermia. It doesn't have to be freezing cold for you to develop hypothermia. Many cases of hypothermia develop in air temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold water takes away body heat 25 times faster than air of the same temperature. Any water colder than 70 degrees can cause hypothermia. 
To protect yourself from hypothermia stay warm and dry. Remember that wind makes you colder. If you fall into cold water with a PFD on, don't thrash around. Excess movement speeds up heat loss. Instead, bring your knees up towards your chin and bend your legs as though you are sitting. This is called the Heat Escape Lessening Position or "H.E.L.P." This helps hold body heat and slows cooling. 
To detect hypothermia, watch for these signs: uncontrollable shivering, fumbling hands, frequent stumbling, a lurching walk, vague slow speech, drowsiness or apparent exhaustion. 
To treat hypothermia, get the victim out of the cold. Give warm drinks, remove all wet clothing and get the victim into dry clothes, and if possible, into a warm sleeping bag next to another person to provide body heat. Try to keep the person awake.


Other Medical Problems
Snakebites and broken bones are rare, but serious, emergencies. A person with a broken bone should not be moved until medical help is found. 
Snakes rarely bite if they are left alone. A person bitten by a poisonous snake should be kept calm and quiet and taken to a doctor or hospital at once. If possible, determine the type of snake that caused the bite.


Fishing Safety Tips - Back to Top

Follow these tips to ensure a safe fishing experience:In selecting a waterfront site, be sure that the area is free from underwater hazards, clean and, if necessary, large enough to accommodate everyone in your group.

Fishing Methods - Back to Top

Fishing from Shore
Shore fishing offers many opportunities for anglers. You can fish from the banks of rivers and streams, the shorelines of inland lakes and ponds, and in the surf on the Atlantic, Pacific coasts. You can also fish from manmade structures such as piers, jetties, walkways, and bridges. 
Shore fishing is available to everyone, even large family and club groups. And because there's no boat to own or rent, it's low in cost. 
Although some species of fish are rarely caught by shore anglers, there are still plenty of other species available to shore anglers. For example, free-swimming ocean fish are not found close to shore. Others like deep-dwelling lake trout are not often caught by shore anglers. Fish commonly caught by shore anglers include species that live near structure (bass, northern pike, sunfish, and stream trout) and those that feed on the bottom (carp, catfish, suckers, perch and walleye). 
One big advantage of shore angling is that almost everyone has some body of water near home that offers fishing.


Lakes and Ponds
Many lakes and ponds have shoreline structure such as docks, logs, stump fields, brush and rock piles, and downed trees. Such things, which provide shelter, shade, and protection for fish, are ideal fishing spots. The best locations may be remote and far from roads.


Rivers and Streams
Rivers and streams are also good places to fish, especially those with structure such as islands, sand bars, rocks or rock piles, and log jams within casting distance of shore. Many anglers fishing shallow rivers combine shore fishing with shallow-water wading. Being able to fish from the middle of a stream lets you cast to more structure. Remember, most fish face the flow of water and wait for food to come to them.


Fishing the Surf
Surf fishing is a special type of shore fishing. Surf anglers either fish from the shore or wade into the shallow waters along the coasts. Usually, there's little visible structure, so surf fishermen must learn to "read" the water to detect shallow sloughs, pockets, tide rips, and other areas where fish may be present.


Fishing piers are structures that extend into the water for a few dozen feet or as much as several hundred feet. Piers may be just above the surface or as much as 20 to 30 feet above the water. Piers let anglers get their baits and lures farther out into the water than a cast from the shore would allow. Often a pier is built with rock piles or other structure next to it to attract fish. Even if this structure is absent, the pier pilings attract fish. Some of the best fishing is often right under a pier.


Breakwaters and Jetties
Breakwaters and jetties are similar to piers; they, too, extend into the water and offer a platform from which to fish. Most are built to protect harbor areas and boat slips from the wave action of the open ocean or a lake. Those designed for fishing have rocks arranged so that they're flat on top. When fishing breakwaters and jetties that aren't flat on top, use extra caution.


Walkways and Bridges
Walkways are like piers, but are specially built fishing platforms that are near or run parallel to bridges, piers, shoreline bulkheads, or similar structures. An example is a walkway along a bridge, but constructed at a lower level. This keeps anglers safe from auto traffic and puts them closer to the water. 
Fishing isn't always allowed from bridges because of the danger from traffic. Bridges where angling is permitted must be fished carefully.


Shore Fishing Tackle - Back to Top

In most cases, tackle for shore fishing is no different from that used in fishing from a boat under the same conditions and for the same species of fish. Freshwater tackle is usually light for sunfish, small catfish, trout, smallmouth bass in streams, suckers, and small walleye. Medium tackle is used for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass in lakes, northern pike, carp, large catfish, and salmon. Heavy tackle is used for large salmon and trout, musky, striped bass, and large carp. 
Surf-fishing tackle is larger than that used for freshwater fishing because the fish are often bigger. Weights used to keep baits or lures on or near the bottom in currents and moving tides are also heavier. Medium to heavy tackle is used. A typical surf-fishing outfit consists of a large spinning reel with 12- to 20-pound test line and a heavy 8- to 12-foot rod. Long rods allow you to cast farther. Surf anglers usually use live bait until fish are visible. Then they switch to lures.


Approaching Fish
Fish are wary creatures. This is especially true in shallow water near the shore. Anglers must walk carefully because vibrations from their footsteps can be transmitted to the water and sensed by fish, spooking them away. 
Vibration is less of a problem when fishing rivers and streams because the water's current conceals most bank vibrations. 
When wading, avoid dislodging rocks that might make sounds that scare fish. Vibration isn't a problem when fishing from breakwaters, jetties, and piers. 
When you fish still waters, these tips will help you avoid being seen by fish. You should stay as low as possible, stay close to shrubbery, and wear dark or camouflage clothing. These are important since fish near the surface can easily detect movement on shore.


Hooking and Landing Fish - Back to Top

Setting the Hook
"Setting the hook" refers to the method of forcing a hook into a fish's mouth. In most cases, one sharp snap of the rod is all that is needed, provided the hook is sharp. Some situations, however, require more force than others. For example, a single hard strike is needed when using a soft-plastic worm rigged Texas style (the hook is concealed inside the worm) because the strike must drive the hook through the worm first and then into the fish's mouth. Striking too hard or repeatedly with a soft-mouthed fish such as a crappie, shad, or sea trout can pull the hook through the mouth.


Fighting a Fish
When a fish feels the hook, it struggles to get free. This might involve jumping, making a long run, swimming back into snags, or swimming around obstacles. Each species of fish fights differently. Some experienced anglers can often tell what species of fish is on the end of the line just by the way it fights. Carp, bonefish, and Chinook salmon are strong, powerful fish that tend to make long runs. Largemouth bass and steelhead trout both run and jump. Tuna dive for the bottom. Trout and tarpon fight wildly when first hooked. Northern pike and cobia (ling) often come to the boat easily, but fight strongly near the boat. Sunfish zigzag toward cover to take full advantage of their body shape. 
Fish hooked and played in shallow water are more likely to jump and behave more frantically than those hooked in deep water. When hooked, deep-water fish often seek the bottom. Large bass are less likely to jump than smaller bass. 
It's possible to land many small fish just by reeling them in. They'll fight, but this can be easily overcome by the strength of the line and the fishing rod. Much of the enjoyment of fishing, though, is gained by using lighter tackle that allows the fish to fight. However, if you plan to release the fish, do not fight it so long that it becomes exhausted and later dies. 
Fighting larger fish requires a technique called "pumping the rod." To do this, retrieve line quickly as you lower the rod until it is horizontal and pointed at the fish. Then stop retrieving line and slowly raise the rod up. When the rod is at about the 11 o'clock position, repeat the process until the fish is near and ready to be landed. Never let the line go slack in the process.


Landing a Fish
Fish can be landed by hand or with landing tools such as a net. When you fish from the shore, beaching fish is a popular way to land them. This method, however, should only be used if you plan to keep and eat the fish because it will harm the coating on its body. 
To beach a fish, lead it into increasingly shallower water, gradually sliding the fish on its side onto dry land. In saltwater, time your retrieve with an incoming wave. As the wave recedes, quickly grab your beached fish and pull it ashore. 
Landing nets are commonly used for landing fish. Long-handled nets are used for boat or shore fishing and fishing from docks and jetties. Short-handled nets are used for stream fishing. The size of the net depends on the size of the fish you plan to catch. Some people use a circular net with a long rope instead of a handle; this is used for pier and bridge fishing.
To net a fish, you must first have the fish under control as much as possible. Next, lead the fish to the net. Place the net in the water and lead the fish into the net head first. Then if the fish should try to escape, it will swim into the net. Once the fish is completely in the net, raise the net by the handle. If you have a heavy fish, also grasp the net's rim to prevent the handle from bending or breaking. 
A popular way to land bass is by hand. Carefully avoiding hooks, many bass anglers use the thumb and index finger to grip a bass by its lower jaw. This holds the jaw wide open and temporarily paralyzes the fish. This makes hook removal easier. 
To handle a fish with sharp teeth such as walleye or northern pike, carefully hold it around the body. Never hold a fish by the eyes or gills if you plan to free it. Other fish like Chinook or Atlantic salmon have a strong tail and you can grasp them in front of the tail fin.


Safety and Getting Permission - Back to Top

Fishing from shore isn't dangerous, but safe fishing requires common sense. In addition to following the safety precautions in "Fishing Safely," there are a few other things you need to be aware of. Get Permission
Although many shore fishing locations are for public use, others are not. Always get permission to fish on private property and pay attention to any special requests or regulations of the landowner. Make sure all gates are left as you found them (open or closed). Do not walk through crops or livestock. Help to keep the place clean and offer to share your catch with the landowner.

Safety and Getting Permission
Fishing from shore isn't dangerous, but safe fishing requires common sense. In addition to following the safety precautions in "Fishing Safely," there are a few other things you need to be aware of.

Get Permission
Although many shore fishing locations are for public use, others are not. Always get permission to fish on private property and pay attention to any special requests or regulations of the landowner. Make sure all gates are left as you found them (open or closed). Do not walk through crops or livestock. Help to keep the place clean and offer to share your catch with the landowner.


Fishing From Boats - Back to Top


Fishing from a boat allows you to cover a larger part of a body of water than shore fishing. In their simplest form, boats can be nothing more than a platform that you sit or stand on. Some boats are made for rivers and streams, for small lakes, or for large bodies of water. Oars or paddles, electric motors, or gasoline motors move them through the water. Boats are made of wood, metal, fiberglass, rubber, and other materials. 
Some boats used for fishing include canoes, skiffs, jonboats, V-hull boats, "cathedral" hull boats, and specialty boats. If you decide to try fishing from a boat, there is a lot to know before you go. You need to know about:

As the operator of a boat you are legally responsible for the boat and the safety of those on board. You must also understand the rules of navigation and the courtesies of safe boating. Always complete a boater safety course prior to operating a boat for the first time.


Boating during a storm can be dangerous, especially when there is lightning, strong wind or high waves. The first thing to do is make sure everyone is wearing a PFD. Put all fishing rods in the bottom of the boat. Stay low or lie down in the boat to reduce the risk of capsizing. Get off the water as soon as you can. 
Don't fish during an electrical storm. Anglers are killed every year when their rods or boats are hit by lightning. 
If you can't get off the water, try to prevent waves from coming in over the stern or striking the boat on its side. The best way is to keep the boat moving at a slight angle into the waves. Moving with the waves can be dangerous. They can come in over the transom and fill the boat with water. This could sink the boat. 
If you have no choice and must ride out a storm on the water, use a heavy anchor with a long line attached to the bow of the boat. The anchor line needs to be at least seven times the depth of the water so that the anchor can hold to the bottom. If the anchor drags, make sure that the boat is not pulled into rocks, shallow water, or rougher water.


Flyfishing - Back to Top

Fly fishing can be intimidating for many new and experienced anglers – however, it really doesn’t have to be.
The term "fly fishing" refers to a specific type of angling in which artificial flies are used to attract and catch fish. Various materials are used to craft a "fly" that is tied to the fishing line; this "fly" is then used to try to attract fish and deceive them into biting on it.

Even if you've never fished before, or even picked up a fishing rod, you can still fly fish.

Getting started:



Being A Responsible Angler - Back to Top

The Ethical Angler

As an angler you have an important responsibility. It's much more than obeying fishing laws. Good anglers also respect others and the resource. Your actions will allow many other people to enjoy fishing in the future.

Respect For Others - Back to Top

Respect for Other Anglers
Anglers respect the rights of others. Some people may enjoy sitting on the bank of a pond and fishing peacefully. Others may prefer using a boat to catch fish. You can fish the way you like and not judge how someone else chooses to fish. Following the Golden Rule is a good plan: treat other anglers as you would like to be treated 
For example, if you were fishing would you like to have another angler start fishing too close to you? You would probably be angry because the other angler was crowding you! If you left your spot to land a fish, you would feel that you had the right to return to your original fishing spot. When we respect the rights of others as we enjoy fishing it makes the day more pleasant for everyone.


Respect For Non-Anglers
Some people use our water resources for activities other than fishing. Respect their right to use the area.


Respect For Land-owners
You may not always be fishing on public waters. If you have to cross someone's land to get to the water, always ask the landowner for permission first. If you want to fish privately owned waters, always ask permission from the landowner before fishing. This is true whether or not the land is posted. If you have to go through gates, be sure to leave them as you found them. If you opened the gate, close it immediately. Do not litter! Leave the area cleaner than you found it. If you catch some fish from the landowner's pond, offer to share your catch with them. Doing these things is a good way to get an invitation to come back.


Respect for the Resource - Back to Top

Good anglers respect our country's water resources. These resources need to be protected so others can enjoy them. We all share this responsibility.


Never Litter
Never leave any litter behind. If you walk to a fishing spot, carry out everything you carry in. This includes wrappers, old fishing line, bait holders, empty cans or bottles and plastic bags. Pick up litter left behind by others, too. It is easy to carry a small paper bag for this purpose. If you are fishing from a boat, be sure your litter is put into a closed container so it can't blow out of the boat. If we all do these things our lakes and streams will be much cleaner. 
Sinking empty soda cans or bottles is worse than leaving them on shore. You are littering the bottom of the lake. Carry empty containers when you leave your fishing spot and recycle them.


Never Waste Fish
Good anglers know that fish are food and should never be wasted. Never keep more fish than you can use. If you catch a fish that's too small to eat or one that's under the legal or minimum size, it should be released quickly and carefully. Releasing a fish and watching it swim away unharmed is a wonderful feeling. If you want to show your fish to others, take a picture before releasing it. The picture will bring you many fond memories and the fish can bring enjoyment to another angler. 
To release a fish, keep it in the water if you can. Handle it carefully with a wet hand so it can be released unharmed. If it's a fish without sharp teeth like a bass, hold its lower lip between your thumb and index finger. If it has sharp teeth like a walleye or northern pike, carefully hold it around the body. Never hold a fish by the eyes or gills if it is to be released. 
Tearing a hook out can harm the fish so badly that it may not live. If the fish is hooked deeply and the hook can't easily be removed, cut the line to release the fish. The hook will rust, dissolve, or become loose without harming the fish. The use of barbless hooks makes it easier to release fish. 
If a fish loses consciousness, try to revive it by gently moving it in a figure-eight pattern so water moves through its gills. When the fish begins to struggle and can swim, let it go. 
Today, some species of fish exist in limited numbers. More and more anglers know this and participate in "catch and release" fishing. Now, many anglers take only what they need for food and release the rest unharmed. This makes it possible for other anglers to enjoy catching them again. 
Some fish take longer to become adults and may not spawn (lay their eggs) until they are three to seven years old. Then, they spawn only once a year. You should release many of these fish. They include bass, lake trout, muskellunge, northern pike, sturgeon, walleye, and most large game fish. Catching and then releasing these species is a good practice. 
Other fish species mature earlier and spawn more than once a year. For example, bluegill and many other panfish spawn when they are two to three years old. 
Until recently, few anglers realized that the populations of certain gamefish in the large oceans could become threatened. However, to increase fish populations, fish hatcheries are raising and stocking fish in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, redfish, snook, seatrout, striped bass, and other saltwater fish are being raised for stocking.


Know And Follow Fishing Regulations
Fishing laws are meant to protect the resource and make sure there is fishing to be shared by everyone. If you fish, it's important that you know the rules and regulations. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Fishing is a wonderful privilege; obeying fishing regulations is the responsibility that goes with it. 
If there are fishing seasons, you must know them. Seasons protect fish during spawning and limit the catch on heavily fished waters. Limits on the number of fish that can be caught are meant to keep anglers from taking too many fish at one time. This makes it possible for more people to share the resource.


Report Violators
Anglers also have a responsibility to help protect our natural resources. Today, many jurisdictions have a special telephone number so individuals can report those who violate fish and game laws.


Protect The Area Around The Waters
Never destroy the beauty of an area. Do not spray paint or carve names or other words on rocks or trees. Do not drive through streams and riparian areas. Leave wildflowers and other plants growing in the wild. Do not destroy or pick them.


Continually Seek New Knowledge and Skill
A good angler is always trying to learn more...increasing fishing skills, learning more about the behavior of fish, and learning more about the harmful things people do to the resource. In this way, you can become part of the solution-not part of the problem. You don't have to know it all now; you will learn something each trip.


Share Knowledge
Good anglers share their knowledge with others and introduce their friends to the sport of fishing and the benefits of protecting the environment.


Participate in Resource-Enhancement Projects
A good angler gets involved in projects to enhance the resource. Some students do it as a class project. Others join or form clubs whose members will work on projects such as improving a stretch of water on a stream, building fish structure in lakes, or just cleaning up the bank around a lake, stream, or river.


Where Do Fish Live? - Back to Top

To catch fish, the angler must first locate them. Fish are found nearly everywhere there is water with enough food, oxygen and cover. Near your home there should be a body of water that has fish living in it. 
Not all fish can live in the same kind of waters. Fish can tolerate different environmental conditions, including different:

Salinity (Amount Of Salt)
One major factor that separates fish is salt. Some fish cannot live in areas where there is much salt and others need salt in the water to live. However, some fish can live in both saltwater and freshwater!


Freshwater contains much less salt than the ocean. Most ponds, reservoirs, and rivers across North America are freshwater. Some common freshwater fish are bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, bass, perch, northern pike, trout, and walleye.


Many kinds of fish live in the salty water of the oceans. A fish's kidney keeps the proper balance of salt in its body. Popular saltwater fish are bluefish, cod, flounder, striped bass (also found in freshwater), sea trout, tarpon, tuna, halibut, rockfish, sea perch, lingcod, and yellowtail.


Brackish Water
An estuary is where fresh water streams and rivers meet the salt water from the ocean. The amount of salt (salinity) changes daily with the flow of tides, rain, or drought. This water is termed "brackish." Changes in the amount of salinity will determine which fish can live in the area. Species found in these waters include redfish, sea trout, snook and striped bass.Some fish live in saltwater, but swim up streams and rivers to spawn (lay their eggs). These fish are called anadromous fish. They include shad, salmon, and some types of trout.


Without an adequate supply of oxygen in the water, fish cannot survive. Fish such as carp can live on less oxygen than fish like trout. What can affect the amount of oxygen in the water? Living plants within a lake or stream add oxygen to the water through photosynthesis - the process of using sunlight to make food. Oxygen can also enter water from the surrounding air. In a stream, moving water tumbling over rocks picks up oxygen from the air. 
Decaying plants use oxygen from the water to decompose. Pollution of many kinds reduces oxygen in water. Chemicals dumped into water trap oxygen and take it out of the natural system. Thermal pollution, the heating of water through industrial use, reduces the amount of oxygen water can hold. Water temperature affects the amount of oxygen that water can hold. Colder water can hold more oxygen molecules than warm water. Oxygen levels can change from one location to another in the same body of water.


The amount and type of food available plays an important role in which fish will be present in a body of water. The amount of competition with other fish is also a factor.


Water Temperatures
Each fish has a different range of water temperature in which it can survive. Some fish can live in a wide range of temperatures, but trout require cold water. Although fish cannot always find the exact temperature they prefer, they are usually found in water close to that temperature.


Water Quality
Fish must have water with adequate oxygen in which to live. Good-quality water will support more species of fish and greater populations of fish than polluted water. Water that is stagnant, polluted, or lacking adequate oxygen will not support large numbers of fish. 
Water quality affects fish species differently. Some fish can live in poorer water conditions than others. For example, carp can live in water that trout could not tolerate.


Cover such as aquatic plants, rocks, logs, or any other type of cover is a requirement for many fish. Fish choose certain types of cover for two main reasons. First, it provides them with protection from enemies. Second, it puts them in the best possible position from which to catch an unsuspecting meal that is drifting or swimming by.


Basic Freshwater Baits - Back to Top

There are many different baits available to make it easy for everyone to get in on the fun of freshwater fishing. These include commercial baits bought from tackle and bait shops, baits that you can find in your yard, and baits that you can make from natural materials. Let’s look at the baits available and how to use them.


WORMS – Worms include large species, often called earthworms or night crawlers, and small, frisky manure worms. Earthworms and night crawlers are found in any lawn and can be easily gathered after a rain or found under boards or rocks. Smaller manure worms are found around farms. Large worms are good baits for walleye and bass, while small worms are good whole or in pieces for panfish, sunfish, and trout.


CRAYFISH – Crayfish are a main food source for fish such as smallmouth bass,
largemouth bass, walleye and large trout. They can be bought from bait stores or captured by using a window screen or fine mesh net in the water. Stir the water to chase the crayfish into the net. Store them in moist rags, damp sphagnum moss or a bait bucket.


MINNOWS AND BAITFISH – Many types of minnows and baitfish are available from bait stores. These can range from small minnows to large shiners for bass and pike fishing. Capture minnows by using minnow traps or mesh minnow screens/nets. Use bait such as bread crumbs to attract the minnows to a trap and check the trap daily. For a minnow net or screen suspended from a rope, use crumbs to attract the minnows and raise the net frequently to capture the prey. Vertical minnow nets can be pulled through the water to capture minnows and sometimes crayfish. Store minnows in a minnow bucket using the same water from which they were bought or captured and use them as soon as possible.
Minnow buckets are special buckets with an internal perforated container designed to hold minnows and allow retrieval of them through a snap lid.


LEECHES – Leeches are almost always bought from bait stores and are ideal for walleye, sauger and other deep water fish. Store the leeches in a bucket similar to those used for minnows. Leeches are hardy and will last a long time.


INSECTS – Insects such as ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, etc., are ideal for panfish, sunfish and trout. You can buy crickets or capture field insects by using a net or screen. Ants can be gathered from a nest, and caterpillars can be found eating leaves on trees and plants.


DOUGH BALLS – Dough balls and similar bait balls are available commercially, as is the prepared mix from which you can form your own dough balls. These are labelled and sold for specific fish species such as trout, panfish, carp and catfish. To make your own dough balls, stir up a doughy mix of hot water and flour or cornmeal and add a favorite flavoring. Some favorite scents for all fish include garlic, licorice, anise, and strawberry gelatin. Mix to a doughy consistency and store in the refrigerator until used. If you only need a small amount of dough or are short of time, use soft white bread and squeeze it into a doughy mass.


CUT BAIT FOR STILL FISHING (FISHING IN ONE SPOT WITH BAIT) – You can use any caught fish, including bait fish, to make cut bait to catch more fish. To prepare cut bait, fillet your catch and cut bait chunks from each side. For best results, scale the fish but leave the skin on. Thread the hook through the skin of the fish to help keep the bait on the hook. Cut bait is ideal for still fishing using a float or on bottom rigs.


CUT BAIT FOR TROLLING (DRAGGING A BAIT OR LURE BEHIND A BOAT) – You can use caught fish to cut strips of bait for trolling. For this, use the thin belly area and cut long "V"-shaped strips for adding to a hook and trolling to simulate a fish or eel. Include a pectoral or pelvic fin on the bait to increase the attractiveness to the fish. If necessary, scale the fish strip but thread the hook through the skin to help keep the bait intact.


GRUBS AND MEAL WORMS – Grubs and meal worms are commonly sold baits readily available from tackle and bait shops. They are used singly or in multiples and are ideal for panfish, sunfish and trout. You can also harvest grubs from the soil and from unusual swellings and deformities – galls – that you find on the leaves and twigs of trees and plants.


FRESHWATER MUSSELS AND CLAMS – If clams or mussels are native to your area, you can use them as bait. Gather the mussels and clams from shallow waters before or while you are fishing. Crack the shell to open, cut out the clam or mussel, and allow the bait to harden in the sun slightly to help keep it on the hook. To keep the bait as fresh as possible, open the clams or mussels as you use them and only when you need new bait.



How to Hook Baits - Back to Top

Learn to hook bait the right way to catch the most fish! Different baits are hooked by different methods. With many soft baits - clams, worms, insects - "bait holder" hooks (with barbs on the hook shank for holding bait) are best. Just remember that certain baits (goldfish, for example) are prohibited in some waters and that bait is not allowed in "lure only" or "fly only" fishing areas. Check out the following proven methods for hooking all types of baits:


WORMS – Worms are used in all fishing. Earthworms and manure worms are used for freshwater fishing; bloodworms and sandworms are used in saltwater fishing. To hook worms on tiny hooks for small fish, cut the worm into pieces and thread one or more pieces onto the hook. To keep the bait from sliding off, push the point and barb into the end of the worm. This technique works for all worms in all fishing. Another method is to use several worm pieces and thread the hook through the center of the body so that the worm pieces dangle from the side of the hook. You can also thread small whole manure worms onto the hook the same way. Thread big worms on larger hooks by running the hook through the worm at several places on the body, with the tail extending for attraction.


INSECTS AND SIMILAR LIVE BAITS – Insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles can be threaded onto a hook. For maximum long life of the bait, do not thread the hook through the insect, but instead use a fine flexible piece of wire, wired to the hook shank, and then twist the wire gently around the insect body. If hooking the insect, keep it lively longer by threading the hook through the rear of the insect (abdomen) to avoid organs in the forward part of the body. A hook through the forward part of the body will quickly kill the bait.


MEAL WORMS AND GRUBS – Small baits such as meal worms and grubs are available from most tackle outlets. Thread the bait onto the hook by running the hook lengthwise through the body or threading through the side of the meal worm, adding several worms or grubs to hide the hook.


MINNOWS – How you hook live minnows depends upon how you are going to fish them. If you are fishing a minnow to troll (drag the bait) or repeatedly cast and retrieve it, hook the minnow through the upper and lower lips with the hook point up so that the minnow will "swim" naturally. You can use this same method for hooked minnows fished from a single- or two-hook rig or from a float and sinker combination. A better method for float-and-sinker fishing is to hook the minnow through the back, but avoid the spine so as to not paralyze the baitfish.
This allows more natural baitfish movement. For fishing a minnow that you allow to free swim without a weight or float, hook it through the tail so that it can swim naturally to attract game fish.


CRAYFISH – Crayfish are great baits for smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye and similar fish. To hook crayfish, thread the hook shallowly through the back or forward part of the body so as to not hurt any vital organs. An alternative is to hook the crayfish through the meaty part of the tail. You can also cut the tail off the crayfish and use the tail to hide the hook.


CUT BAIT – Cut bait is made from fish, eels, or minnows and is cut into chunks for still fishing (fishing from one spot) or into strips for trolling (dragging a bait behind a moving boat). For still fishing, cut the bait into squares or hunks that can be easily threaded onto a hook. For best results, keep the skin on the bait to help the penetrating hook hold in place. For trolling (dragging bait), retrieving bait and drifting bait in a current, cut the bait into a long "V"-shaped strip. Hook through the skin at the wide end of the "V" strip so that when retrieved the bait will resemble a swimming minnow or eel.


DOUGHBALLS – Doughballs can be purchased or prepared with a homemade recipe. Prepared commercial "paste" bait that can be formed into doughballs is available for carp, trout, panfish, bass, catfish and other freshwater game fish. Home-made doughballs can be made from a doughy mix of hot water, flour, cornmeal and flavoring. To hook doughballs, thread the hook through the  doughball or form the doughball around the hook so that the bait completely hides the hook. Some treble hooks include wire springs to help hold dough in place.


CLAMS, MUSSELS AND OTHER SOFT BAITS - Clams, mussels, and soft baits such as pieces of liver are best hardened in the sun briefly before hooking. Allowing the bait to harden in the sun will keep it on the hook longer and make it less likely that a game fish can peel the bait from the hook. Cut liver into chunks and allow it to harden slightly. Harden clams and mussels after removing the bait from the shell just before using the bait. Run the hook point through as many parts of the clam or mussel as possible, using the final parts to hide the hook point. If necessary, use fine wire or thread to wrap and tie the bait onto the hook shank. If you have a cooler, you can also freeze soft baits at home and use them as they partially thaw in the cooler.


SHRIMP AND GRASS SHRIMP – Shrimp can be used whole or in part. Use smaller grass shrimp whole, threading a fine wire hook through the tail. To hook a larger whole shrimp, hook it lightly through the body or through the meaty tail. Remove one or two sections of the shell to allow the shrimp scent to attract fish. You can also use just the tail of the shrimp, threading the hook into the meaty part to hide the hook. These basic methods of hooking bait will assure that you have the best possible fishing success and maximum possible chances of catching fish. These proven methods keep bait on the hook, hook a fish well and work for all species of fish.


Where to Fish - Back to Top

All fish are cold-blooded. Fish can’t maintain their body temperature at a constant level as do humans and other warm-blooded animals. The temperature of the surroundings influences the fish’s body temperature and bodily functions – including how much and when to eat. Lower water temperatures slow fish body movements and decrease food intake. Understanding these biological functions allows adjusting lures and baits with slower (cold water) or faster (warmer water) retrieves. Different conditions are often related. Many freshwater fish such as bass are most active during the early morning and late evening hours. Fish find the reduced light levels during these times more comfortable than the bright sun of midday. Less turbulent waters (less wind) in lakes and ponds during those hours also allow fish to cruise the shallows searching for food on or near the surface.


Morning sun warms the shallows, creating more comfortable water temperatures for fish to feed. Late morning is best when the sun has had more of a chance to warm the shallows. This is particularly true during early spring in shallows with dark or mud bottoms since dark areas absorb heat more rapidly than light sandy bottoms. Warm water temperatures make forage food more active and available to game fish on cool early-spring days. On hot sunny days, fish move to cooler, deeper waters to stay comfortable. Heat affects not only when to fish but also how to fish. High heat conditions make shallow and top water lures and bait best only in the early morning and late afternoon when cooler temperatures and lower light levels allow fish to cruise the shallows for meals. In midday, hot water surface temperatures, decreased surface oxygen and occasional increasing winds cause fish to move deeper. In these conditions, deep fishing baits, rigs and lures are best.


Experienced anglers will tell you that there are "best" times to fish. These "best times" can be related to the amount of sunlight, to warming trends, to depth at which fish are found, to storm and weather patterns, to wind, and to tidal flows when saltwater fishing. Thus, WHEN to fish can also affect and be affected by WHERE to fish.
Too many hot days during the summer can adversely affect fishing in shallow lakes, ponds, and rivers since the higher water temperatures can reduce oxygen in the water and cause fish to become sluggish.


Wind can play a large role in fishing success. Wind pushes bait to the far shore, with bait followed by game fish. If fishing from shore on a windy day, fish where you have to cast into the wind. If fishing from a boat, cast with the wind on a sheltered shore. Storms and changing weather patterns affect fishing success since fish are keenly attuned to changes in barometric conditions. With many fish, feeding increases during the hours immediately before a cold front, but slows during and after a storm or front hits. Fishing after a cold front is poor and continues to be poor for a day or two. Warm fronts cause surface water temperatures to increase. Such fronts often put fish into a feeding mode. This can be particularly true in the winter, when a warming trend can cause otherwise sluggish fish to start feeding actively. Most of this feeding activity is on or near the warm surface. Cloudy days improve fishing since the clouds prevent light penetration. Overcast skies cause fish to cruise for food more than they would during bright days when they tend to hide and stay close to structure. On overcast cloudy days, fish are less likely to be on specific structure spots or areas and more likely to be scattered throughout a waterway. Another good time to fish is during a light rain, especially a warm spring or summer rain. Rain can help you hide from the fish since the rain breaks up the view that the fish has through the water surface. This is true whether shore, wade or boat fishing. Rain also washes insects and bait into the water, with this extra food creating a feeding binge for fish. Warm rains quickly warm the water to cause these feeding periods. Hard rain conditions are a poor time to fish since heavy rains can muddy the water, make it difficult for fish to find bait or lures, and also cause heavy runoff which can clog their gills. The increased water flow in rivers from any rain increases current flow and makes it difficult for fish to maintain a comfortable position in the river. High water levels can also create rapids, waves and unsafe fishing conditions. If there is any lightning or possibility of lightning, you must get off of the water in your boat or immediately away from the water if wading or fishing from the shore. Safety must come first in any fishing situation.


In salt water, tides affect water level so that a shallow area that might hold fish and be a very good spot to fish during a high tide might be a bare mud bank during low tide conditions. Similarly, a slough – a slight depression in the bottom - that might be perfect for bottom feeding fish such as flounder during a low tide situation might be too deep and difficult to fish on a high tide. Running tides (rising or falling) are best since they cause bait to move and provoke active feeding among coastal fish. Checking changing tides and the best times and areas to fish is also important when fishing in brackish water – coastal water that is a mix of salt and fresh, yet still affected by tides. Brackish water is found in most tidal creeks and rivers along all coasts and can affect both saltwater and some freshwater species. Since tides and movements are so important in saltwater and brackish water fishing, check for daily tide information in your local newspaper or at your local fishing shop. Tides raise and lower the water level approximately two times per day and affect where fish are located and how they feed. The timing of a high or low tide changes daily and is also different for each coastal area. The best fishing is almost always on a rising or falling tide – not the dead low or dead high when there is little or no water movement.
Determining the best time to fish requires checking on many fishing factors and outdoor conditions. The key to fishing success is to learn about fish and how they live. Try different tactics in your fishing to make each day of fishing a great day.


Fishing Terminology - Back to Top

ROD – A long lever, usually made of fiberglass, graphite or composite materials and used to catch fish. Different types are available, such as rods for spinning, fly fishing, spincast, bait casting, boat fishing, offshore trolling, surf fishing, jetty/pier fishing, etc. Most rods have a reel-holding clamp and guides through which the line runs.

REEL – A mechanical device for holding and spooling fishing line. Reels have a line spool brake to slow running fish, handle to retrieve line and foot for clamping to a rod. Reel styles include CASTING (revolving spool), SPINNING (line coiling off stationary spool); SPINCAST, (like spinning but with a nose cone), and FLY (storing thick fly line/backing and to fight big fish). 

LINE – Specialized "string" used for fishing. Nylon monofilament line is the most popular. Other lines are made of different materials, including braided fibers and wire. FLY LINE is a specialized line made of a plastic coating on a core, and often made tapered (changing diameter) to make fly casting easier. (To preserve good fishing, take any discarded line with you when you leave. Discarded line can snag and harm wildlife, and kill fish, turtles, frogs, birds and small mammals.)

LEADER – A length of monofilament, wire or other stranded material tied between the end of the line and the lure or hook. Leaders provide extra strength or abrasion resistance from the rough mouth and teeth of fish (pike, barracuda, sharks), scales (sharks), gill covers (tarpon and snook), blows from tails (tuna).

BAIT – Natural attractant added to a hook to catch fish. Bait includes live and dead baitfish, crabs, crayfish, worms, eels, insects, mussels, clams, cut bait (fish), chicken livers, corn kernels, dough balls, squid, and shrimp.

LURE – Any artificial item designed to attract fish and fitted with hooks. These include flies, hard plastic or wood lures (or plugs), soft plastic imitations, large offshore skirted baits, metal spoons, lead-head lures (jigs), bladed lures, spinners, spinnerbaits.

HOOK – A metal wire device shaped like a "J" with an opening or "eye" at one end to which the line is tied and a point at the other end to catch the fish. Circle hooks have an angled point. Double and treble hooks have two or three points, respectively.

SINKER – A weight of lead or other metals designed to sink a hooked bait or lure.

FLOAT – Also called a "bobber", these suspend hooked baits off of the bottom and signal hits by "bobbing" when a fish takes the bait.

STRIKE – Any "hit" by a fish taking a lure or bait.

TACKLE BOX - A box or bag with special compartments and features to hold terminal tackle, lures, hooks, and other fishing gear.

TERMINAL TACKLE – A general term for describing bobbers, sinkers, hooks, rigs, snaps, swivels and other gear used at the end of a line.

SNAP – A small device similar to a dog leash snap, tied to the line and used for attachment and quick release of hooks, rigs and lures. 

SWIVEL – A small device with two or more eyes (rings) and a central swiveling part. They are used between a lure or leader and line to prevent line twist. Otherwise, line twist can occur when a revolving lure twists line to cause tangles. 

TROLLING – A method of slowly running a boat while trailing lures or bait. This fishing method is used to cover a lot of water and to find fish.

STILL FISHING - Fishing without moving the bait once it is cast. 

CRANKBAIT – A fish-like hard lure or plug designed to swim under the surface, often made of plastic or wood. Some are combined with replaceable soft plastic tails.

TOPWATER LURE – Lures made of hard plastic, wood, hollow rubber/plastic and designed to float on the surface to attract fish when twitched or moved.

SOFT PLASTIC LURES – Made of a soft plastic to resemble a worm, lizard, crayfish, shrimp or generic wiggling creature. Often sold in bulk to be rigged on a hook by the angler.

SPINNERBAIT – "Safety pin" style wire lures with one or more spinner blades on the end of one wire, and a weighted body, skirt and hook on the other. Used to fish around structure such as trees and stumps.

BUZZBAIT – These "safety pin" wire lures for surface fishing have a propeller blade on one wire and a weighted body, skirt and hook on the other.

JIG – Sometimes called "bucktails", these weighted-body (often lead) lures
are molded on special hooks and rigged with a hair tail or soft plastic skirt or worm.

SPINNER – Spinner blades rotate around the straight wire shaft of these weighted-body treble-hook lures.

TUBE BAIT – Made of soft plastic, these tubular lures are fished with special weighted hooks inserted into the hollow body.

BLADE BAIT – A weighted, fish-shaped blade made with a swinging hook and designed for fishing deep.

CHUMMING – A fishing technique by which bait or scent is released into the water to attract fish to take a lure or baited hook. Chum consists of live, dead, ground-up or prepared baits and scents and is used in fresh and saltwater.

JIGGING - A method of dropping a lure into the water over a fishing site and moving it - "jigging it" - up and down to attract fish. Done from a pier or boat.

CASTING SPOON – A spoon-shaped metal or hard plastic lure that wobbles to attract fish. They can be fitted with a fixed (solid) hook or swinging hook, that has a single, double or treble points.

WEEDLESS SPOON – Wobbling spoons made with a fixed hook and guard
for fishing weeds.

STRUCTURE SPOON – Both casting and vertical jigging techniques are used for fishing these swinging hook heavy metal lures.

TROLLING SPOON – A large spoon that is trailed, or trolled, behind a boat to catch fish.


How to Tie Basic Fishing Knots - Back to Top

Fishing knots allow you to properly tie your line to your hook, lure and other tackle. These knots have been developed and tested thoroughly to assure tying ease and strength. Each knot has a specific purpose. Before you learn any new knot, consider the following:



IMPROVED CLINCH KNOT- This is a variation of an older clinch knot. The variation (a final tuck of the line back through a loop) makes this knot test 95 percent of the line strength. The secret of this knot is to make five turns of the tag end of the line around the standing end part before running the tag end back through the formed loop. Use for lines up to 20 pound test.

PALOMAR KNOT – This knot, over 95 percent in strength, takes more line to tie because it is doubled first. It is good for lines up to and over 20 pound test. Because it is run doubled through the lure or hook eye, knotted and then looped over the hook or lure, it may tangle easier. It is a favorite knot of many anglers.

NON-SLIP LOOP KNOT – This knot creates a fixed loop so that a hook can freely move. It is best with larger lines where a tight knot such as the Improved Clinch can impede the hook/bait or lure movement. It is similar to tying the Improved Clinch Knot.

KNOTS TO JOIN LINES - Knots to join line are good for retying broken lines and to join a leader to the end of the line.

BLOOD KNOT – This knot requires five turns of line, with each tag end around the overlapped standing end of line. This is easy to do by making one series of turns and tucking the tag end between the two lines and then repeating with the second line. It is a good knot if the lines are not too dissimilar in diameters. It’s good for tying 15 pound test line to 20 pound test line; not good for tying 15 pound test line to 50 pound test line.

SURGEON’S KNOT – This makes it easy to join two lines, but one line must be short, since you have to bring the one end through the formed overhand loop. As with other lines, use a lot of overlapping line so that you can pull on all four ends to properly pull tight. Work with both lines together as you tie this, and make sure that both loops are the same size to assure a strong knot.

LOOP KNOTS - Use loop knots to make a loop in the end of a rig to which the line can be tied or to make two loops for an interconnecting loop system of attaching tackle parts.

SURGEON’S LOOP – This knot is similar to the Surgeon’s Knot for joining lines. To make this, fold over the tag end of line and form the knot using both strands to make a double overhand knot. Pull up carefully on both the two ends and the loop.

FIGURE-EIGHT LOOP – This loop knot is also easy to tie. Fold over the tag end of line (leave lots of line for this) and then form a figure-eight bend with the two lines, ending by going through the first loop. As with the Surgeon’s Loop, pull tight on the loop and both tag ends.



ARBOR KNOT – You need to attach the line to your fishing reel, but this knot does not need to be strong. Run the line around the spool hub (arbor) and make an overhand knot around the standing line. Clip and pull tight.

IN-LINE DROPPER – This allows you to make a loop in the middle of your line to attach a hook or other rig. Fold the line back over itself to make a loop, and then twist the two overlapping line sections four or five times. Pull the loop through this center twist. Pull tight. 

For more on "How to tie basic fishing knots", click here


Kids and Freshwater Fishing - Back to Top

Take a Kid Fishing
Remember to make it a kid’s adventure. Consider whether you should concentrate only on fishing or whether it should be a more general outdoor aquatic experience– you might decide this based on the children’s age. Depending upon their age, allow time and give permission for wading in the water, skipping stones, catching frogs, floating sticks and leaves, playing ball, playing hide and seek, collecting wild flowers, or finding insects. Make it a fun adventure so they will want to go "fishing" again. If you wish, allow them to bring friends, but limit the friends and their number. Too many children on a fishing trip are difficult to control. Leave pets at home.

So you are going to take some kids fishing! Maybe they are yours, or those of a relative or friend. Either as an angler or interested adult, you want these kids to have fun. Here are some common sense steps to follow:


  1. Wear comfortable, appropriate clothing.
  2. Bring sunglasses, sun screen and hats for sun protection.
  3. Bring insect repellent and insect bite salve.
  4. Include a small first aid kit
  5. Bring enough appropriate tackle for each person fishing
  6. If you plan to eat your catch, bring a cooler or stringer
  7. Include bait that is easy to get and use – worms, grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, caterpillars
  8. Include "picnic" food that is fun, such as snacks, fruit, sandwiches, and fruit drinks or water.
  9. If possible, fish near home so that the trip does not exhaust everyone before the fishing fun.
  10. Bring and wear life preservers (PFD’s) if necessary (as when fishing from a boat) as well as for small children or those wading or swimming.
  11. Do not take too many children at any one time and make sure that a responsible adult is always watching the children.

Finding Bait in your Backyard - Back to Top

Using bait is the easiest way to catch freshwater fish. But you don’t need to visit a bait store or tackle shop for bait. Finding bait can be a lot of fun and a great way to get ready for a fishing trip.
Many great fishing baits are available in your backyard, or in any plot of vacant ground or parkland. Check with Mom or Dad to make sure that you have permission to hunt for bait. Worms are the most popular bait, and you can find them almost anywhere. Other good baits are grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars.

Some popular baits and tips to find them are:

WORMS - There are all types of worms, but the following tips will help you get a bunch of them for fishing:

CRICKETS AND GRASSHOPPERS - Try these methods to get these active insects and good bait.

CATERPILLARS - These larvae of moths and butterflies are also good bait, and readily available through the summer and fall. Try these tips to get a supply:

Use care in collecting all bait. Be careful when checking for worms and crickets under boards, since boards can hold rusty nails. Also, pull a board back towards you to keep the board between you and any bait. Sometimes baby snakes will be found under those same boards! Spiders, including poisonous types, can be found in the same areas. Watch for fire ants in some areas, and be aware that some bees and wasps nest in the ground. Be careful also when collecting caterpillars. Some caterpillars – particularly large ones and those with fine hairs – can sting! Use light cotton gloves for protection.
There are lots of other baits available that you can find for freshwater fishing, but starting with these will give you a good supply of readily available bait all year round. For more information, look in your library or tackle shop for books on bait.


Protect Our Water - Back to Top

Clean Water and Conservation
How long would you survive if everyday boatloads of people came to your home, threw trash on your floor, polluted your water and air, wasted your resources, then turned around and left it that way? Well, since the Earth is our home, as well as that of every other living creature, it's our responsibility to take care of it. Remember, if we save our planet we save ourselves.


What Is Water?
Good anglers are concerned about the fish's primary need-WATER. You probably don't think much about water even though you use it everyday. Water is very important because there's nothing else like it in the world. Fish are not the only animals that could not live without it. We couldn't live without it and can't afford to take it for granted.
There is a lot of water. It covers about 70 percent of the earth, but only about three percent of it is fresh water. Most of the fresh water, about 75 percent, is in the form of ice. In fact, the frozen areas of the world have as much fresh water as all the world's rivers will carry for the next 1,000 years. 
The demand for unpolluted fresh water is increasing because the earth's population is increasing. How much water does the average person use? Here are some answers:

This is a lot of water, but more than half of the water used is used by industries. For example, it takes 250 tons of water to make a ton of newspaper and ten gallons to produce one gallon of gasoline. You can see why it is important to conserve water.


Sharing Waters
As you have seen, anglers and boaters are not the only ones who use bodies of water and have an effect on fish populations. Industries and power plants use large amounts of water. Communities need water for drinking. Farmers use it to water their crops and livestock. Barges and ships use waterways to bring products to market. Water is also used for waste disposal. 
The demands for water use can cause conflicts among those using our water resources. The results are not always good for the fish and not everyone is concerned with fish. An occasional conflict arises when people want to dam a river for irrigation, for controlling floods, or for the production of electricity. Dams create lakes or reservoirs that are habitat for fish such as largemouth bass and crappie. However, the reservoir destroys several miles of river that might have been prime habitat for trout, smallmouth or rock bass. 
Water is too valuable to waste. With so much demand for our water it is important that each of us do our part to conserve it.


How You Can Conserve Water

How Much Water Is There?
The bad news is that there is a limited amount of water on earth. In fact, there's no more water today than there was when the earth was formed. The good news is that water is recycled. Over time, it's used over and over again. Because of this, it's important not to pollute water so that it can be used safely by humans, fish, and other life forms that depend on it.


The Water Cycle
The heat from the sun causes water on the earth to evaporate, or turn into a vapor, and rise into the air. As this vapor rises, it cools, condenses into water droplets and forms clouds. Sooner or later, the water returns to earth in the form of rain, snow, sleet or hail. 
When water strikes the earth, some of it returns to vapor through evaporation. Some of it enters brooks, creeks, streams, and rivers. Eventually, this water makes its way into the oceans. Water also seeps into the ground, becoming groundwater. It moves slowly until it reaches rivers or lakes or drains into large underground areas called aquifers.


Water Is A Solvent
Water is often called the "universal solvent." This is because water can dissolve so many things. Water can dissolve some things like salt and sugar very quickly. Other materials may take thousands or even millions of years to dissolve. For example, flowing water can dissolve rock. That, along with other types of erosion, is how the Grand Canyon and other canyons and river valleys were formed.


Boiling And Freezing Points
Water turns into ice at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 0 degrees Celsius. It boils at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 degrees Celsius, and turns into a gas or vapor. It is a liquid between 32 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 and 100 degrees Celsius. Water also has the ability to store a large amount of heat. This is important because it means that water heats and cools more slowly than land or air. 
An angler should know about water temperature. In spring, water temperature rises very slowly. Water warms and cools more slowly than air. Although the air temperature may be warm, the water in some areas may still be too cold for some kinds of fish. Late in the year, the opposite may be true. In fall, water temperature drops very slowly. The air may be chilly, but the water temperature may still be warm. Fish are more active in warmer water than in cold water. Thus, when fishing in colder water, anglers should work their baits and retrieve line more slowly.


Why Ice Floats
Another interesting fact is that cold water is not always heavier than warm water. Water continues to get heavier as it cools, until it reaches a temperature of 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, one cubic foot of water weighs more than 62 pounds. Then, something unusual happens. Water colder than 39 degrees Fahrenheit begins to get lighter. No other liquid acts this way. 
What does this mean to us? Well, if water colder than 39 degrees Fahrenheit did not get lighter, ice wouldn't float. Instead, ice would form on the bottom of a lake and kill fish and other life in the water. The fact that water gets lighter before it freezes is important in deep northern lakes.


As the sun melts ice on a lake in spring and begins to heat the surface water, a change takes place. When the surface water begins to warm, it sinks to the bottom, helped by wind and currents. This pushes colder water from the bottom toward the surface. This mixing of water is called "turnover." Turnover often occurs in the spring and fall. After the turnover, the water temperature of the mixed water is nearly the same throughout the lake. During this period fish are likely to be scattered and at any depth.


Water Layers
In summer, however, something else occurs on many deep or large lakes. The water forms three layers, each with a different range of temperatures. The sun warms the top layer (epilimnion) of water faster than the wind can mix it. Another layer (hypolimnion) is the heavy cold water at the bottom of the lake. This layer may have very little oxygen. The third layer is a narrow one that separates the top and bottom layers, called the "metalimnione" and contains a thermocline. Here the water temperature changes rapidly with only small changes in depth. 
Why is knowing about these layers important? One reason is that the bottom layer in some lakes has little oxygen. This forces fish to move to a higher level and into the metalimnion, near the thermocline. So in summer on lakes that separate into layers, fish will frequently move to the epilimnion to feed and then return to their preferred temperatures near the thermocline. 
Freshwater lakes are not the only places where water forms into layers. It also happens in saltwater estuaries and in the oceans.


Water Quality
We need to make sure that we keep our waters clean and free from pollution. For fish and other animals to live and thrive, the quality of water is very important. 
When harmful things enter our waters, the waters become polluted. Polluted water cannot be used for drinking, swimming, or fishing. The key lies in eliminating pollution. Fortunately, you can make a difference! 
If water is kept clean and used wisely, there will be enough for our many needs.


The Problem With Pollution - Back to Top

Clean, pure water may be our most precious resource. Pollution is anything that spoils its cleanliness, purity, and overall quality. Many things that reduce the quality of the water pollute our ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, ground water and oceans.
Some, like gradual erosion of nearby land, occur naturally. However, uncontrolled development or careless farming methods increase erosion and ruin waterways. Some pollutants enter our waters from the rain or air. Unfortunately, some pollution is even caused by thoughtless or uncaring people. Pollution is not only a danger to fish and other creatures that depend on clean water to live, but also to people! 
Pollution problems may differ depending on where you live. In the northeastern U.S., acid rain may be the biggest threat to fish and other wildlife. Along Lake Superior, asbestos particles from mining waste have been a problem. Timber harvest in mountainous areas can cause erosion and sediment to flow into lakes and streams. Around much of the Great Lakes, PCBs and other chemicals are a concern. 
In most large urban communities, the main cause of water pollution is a combination of sewage and industrial waste. Unfortunately, some water can't be used because it is too polluted by chemical industrial waste. For instance, eight billion gallons of fresh water flow past the city of New York every day as the Hudson River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. That's enough water to supply each of 40 million people with 200 gallons a day if it could be used. The Hudson River, however, is too polluted to be used as a water supply. 
To be a good angler you need to be familiar with the major kinds of pollution. When you are old enough to vote you will be asked to make decisions about proposed laws. You will want to be knowledgeable so you can make decisions that are healthy for the environment. No matter what age you are, you can always write your federal or provincial representative to express your views. Fish can't write, so they have to depend on you to make sure our waters remain clean. 
Those who are concerned about water pollution use two terms: point-source and non-point-source. 
Point-source pollution is pollution that can be traced to a definite point at which it enters the environment. Point-source pollution can come from industries that dump wastes, chemicals, or heavy metals into the environment. Toxic waste dumps and wastewater treatment plants are also point-source pollution sites. 
Non-point-source pollution is more difficult to identify because it doesn't enter the water at a definite, easy-to-locate place. Often, it's caused by herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers (used on many lawns, farms, gardens and orchards) that eventually enter a waterway and harm the food chain.


Types of Pollutants:


Silt Or Sediment
Have you ever seen a stream that looks dirty? This dirty look is usually caused by the excessive erosion of silt or sediments from nearby lands. Silt or sediment are fine particles of soil that end up in our waters. A small amount of sediment reaching the waters is natural. However, surface mining, timber harvest, construction, and poor farming practices can leave soil unstable. Then, when it rains, the soil is carried off by the water, which eventually runs into a river or lake. There are modern methods of farming, logging, and mining that minimize erosion. 
So, how can excessive silt hurt water? When it settles to the bottom it has a smothering effect. It can kill plants or other small organisms. It can smother fish eggs and young aquatic life. It can cover up the rocks where the fish's food lives. If the silt does not settle, the water ends up with a dirty look. This muddy water does not allow light for use by plants and other aquatic life. The result is a ruined body of water that no longer supports the fish we want to catch.


What you can do to help stop silt or sediment:

Agricultural Wastes
Agricultural wastes include manure, liquid and granular fertilizers, silo liquids and pesticides. Cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry raised on feedlots are a big problem. They concentrate a lot of wastes over a very small area. One cow produces as much waste as 17 people every day. Some of this waste is washed directly into rivers. In addition, farmers spread manure and fertilizer on their open fields that may eventually enter a body of water. 
Pesticides are chemicals used to help farmers control pests that ruin their crops. If properly used they generally create little or no problem. However, when they enter a water system through careless use, they usually cause environmental damage by killing fish and other organisms in the water.


How you can reduce agricultural wastes:

Acid Rain
Acid rain is one of the biggest problems facing the quality of our water today. Many bodies of water are suffering from the effects of acid rain. Acid rain is a result of industries and autos burning oil and coal (fossil fuels) for fuel. Industry smokestacks and automobile tailpipes send sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides high into the atmosphere. These elements can remain in the air for several days and travel hundreds of miles. While in the air they mix with water vapor and turn into sulfuric and nitric acids. Eventually, this harmful acid returns to earth in rain, hail, fog, dew, sleet, snow, or as dry particles. This acid damages plant life and may eventually kill insects, frogs, and fish in our waters. 
The amount of acid in liquids is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. This is called the "pH" scale. A pH of 7.0 (distilled water) is in the middle of the scale and is considered neutral - neither acidic nor alkaline. Things below 7.0 such as lemon juice (pH of 2.0) are acidic. Things above 7.0, like ammonia (pH 11.0), are alkaline. 
The pH scale is logarithmic. This means that a pH of 6 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 7. A pH of 5 is 100 times more acidic than a pH of 7 and a pH of 4 is 1,000 times more acidic than a pH of 7.

Because carbon dioxide and water found naturally in the atmosphere have a pH of 5.0 to 5.6., natural rain is slightly acidic. However, acid rain that falls in the northeastern United States often ranges from 4.0 to 4.6 pH. In most regions of the country the lakes and rivers can tolerate this acidity without any loss of water quality. A natural buffering ability present in most soils that contain limestone can neutralize acidity. However, several regions of the country are damaged by acid rain because they have thin soils and granite bedrock. Granite is low in limestone and cannot neutralize (buffer) acid precipitation. 
The northeast, the Rocky Mountains, areas of the northcentral and southeastern U.S. and eastern Canada are most affected by acid rain. 
Once a body of water contains too much acid, the creatures in the water's food chain begin to die. Eggs and larvae are sensitive to low pH and unable to survive. As water becomes more acid, the fertility of eggs is reduced, fewer hatch, and fish may not grow to adult sizes. Eventually, fish or insects, the fish's food, may no longer be able to live in water with a low pH. 
Acid rain is a worldwide problem because it can be carried in the atmosphere for great distances before falling back to earth. 
Pollution sources in midwestern states can actually harm waters on the east coast! As a result, thousands of lakes in the United States, Canada, and other countries are suffering from its effects. If steps are not taken to reduce acid rain, many more bodies of water may be ruined forever. 

How You Can Help Reduce Acid Rain:

Sewage consists of human wastes and garbage. It also includes water used for laundering or bathing. Most sewage is treated at a treatment plant that removes the solids and dissolved substances. However, when a treatment plant gets overloaded or has a malfunction, sewage gets dumped into rivers. Today's laws are quite strict, but sewage pollution is still a major problem, especially in large cities. 
Sewage depletes the dissolved oxygen in water. Sewage wastes contain nutrients that serve as fertilizers. They cause algae (tiny plants) to bloom in great quantities. When these organisms die, oxygen is used for the process of decomposition, and the fish go without adequate oxygen and sometimes die. If this situation gets bad enough, all the fish in a river below a treatment plant may die. As you have learned, fish must have an adequate supply of oxygen or they will not survive. 
Raw sewage can also cause serious diseases in humans who use the water or eat shellfish from polluted areas. Sewage may also make waters unhealthy to swim in.


What You Can Do:

Industrial Waste
Industries produce everything from food products to hazardous wastes. Most industries produce some form of liquid waste that has to be treated before it is released into public waters. These wastewaters contain many toxic chemicals. Although some discharges are treated, some of this chemical waste is still discharged directly into aquatic systems.


What You Can Do To Reduce Industrial Waste:

Petroleum Products
Accidental oil spills can have disastrous effects on aquatic life. Petroleum products can kill by direct contact with the fish's gills. Oil may also suffocate eggs and young fish, since the young inhabit shallow waters where oil tends to concentrate. Marine birds, sea otters and turtles may also be killed.


What You Can Do To Reduce Petroleum Wastes:
Recycle used automotive oil. Oil drained from cars and disposed of improperly creates more oil in our waters than a single oil spill from a tanker. Drain the oil from your car into a container and take it down to a service station that recycles oil


We have become a throwaway society and are running out of dumps to put our trash. Some people do not even try to dispose of their trash appropriately and throw it along our waters. No one enjoys fishing or swimming when having to contend with broken bottles, sharp cans and other trash. Sinking cans, bottles or other trash in the water may put them out of sight temporarily, but they are still there and it is still wrong. 
Plastics are particularly hazardous. They are not easily biodegradable and will be around for a long time, maybe for hundreds of years. Thousands of fish and birds die every year from entanglement in plastic six-pack rings that come from canned drinks. Nylon fishing line discarded by thoughtless anglers can also kill birds by entanglement. Some sea turtles even mistake plastic bags for jellyfish (their favorite food) and choke to death when they eat a plastic bag by mistake.

What You Can Do To Reduce Trash:

Nuisance Species
Nuisance species are living organisms that upset the delicate balance of a particular body of water. These may be considered biological pollutants. 
Not all bodies of water are the same. Even lakes close together may have different characteristics. In some bodies of water a particular type of fish may be part of the balance. However, in a different body of water that same species may throw off the entire balance. The same is true of some types of vegetation and other aquatic life. Some types of vegetation may prove helpful in one lake and a disaster in another. 
For example, crappies are excellent sport fish and in many lakes they fit in well with the balance of the lake. However, if put into a different setting, the crappie could ruin the entire lake. In the wrong setting the crappie could populate faster and compete for food and space. You could end up with a lot of little crappie and little else. 
Certain kinds of vegetation might be healthy for some water systems. In others, that same vegetation/weed might take over. Too much vegetation can interfere with boating access and protect too many small fish that will then cause an overpopulation of small fish. Also, when weeds die, they decompose removing oxygen from the water. When the oxygen level gets too low, fish will die. 
The Great Lakes have had many problems with unwanted species. One problem species introduced by way of ballast water from a ship, was the zebra mussel. The mussel reproduces rapidly. Biologically it is still not known what impact the mussel will have, but it could block spawning grounds for several native fish. The mussel also attaches itself to intakes of water supplies and power plants, causing millions of dollars in damages.

What You Can Do To Prevent Nuisance Species:

Pollution Must Be Stopped
Major sources of pollution must be stopped if quality fisheries are to exist. Even the large oceans and estuaries of the world are fragile ecosystems that require attention and careful use to protect them for our future use and enjoyment. 
How will you feel if you go fishing and your favorite river is so polluted that the fish have died?
We can all help. While many of these problems seem out of your hands, there are many problems you can solve in your area by getting your classmates, friends, and neighbors to vocally protest the problem. 
Our own actions on a daily basis are important. We each have a responsibility to make sure our own actions are not depleting or polluting the water. An individual action, either positive or negative may seem small. However, when you multiply that by millions of people, these actions have a tremendous cumulative impact. Remember we all live downstream of someone.


More Fish For Everyone - Back to Top

Managing Populations and Habitat

It seems like everyone likes to go fishing! Boys, girls, moms, dads and even grandparents like to fish. Fisheries managers are responsible for maintaining healthy and productive fish populations. But with so many anglers, this is not an easy job. More and more fisheries managers are starting to become "people managers" too! 
What is good fishing to one person, may not be good fishing to another. Some anglers don't care what they catch as long as they catch something. Other anglers are only interested in a certain species of fish. Some want to catch lots of fish while others want big fish. Still others don't care if they catch anything as long as they get to relax in the beautiful outdoors.


Managing Fish Populations
A fishery manager must first consider the habitat in order to manage fish. As you have learned already, fish require the right water temperature, oxygen level, food source and cover. If you stocked a trout in warm water, you would be wasting the fish because it would not survive for very long. Likewise, if you put pike in a lake without vegetation, they wouldn't do very well either. 
Most fish will spawn naturally and produce their own young. In these cases, a fishery manager does not have to stock fish every year. The fish replenish the waters on their own. A manager will then manage the fishery by improving the habitat, regulating the catch, and trying to balance the populations of fish species sharing the aquatic environment.


Hatcheries And Fish Stocking
Federal and provincial hatcheries raise many kinds of fish for stocking. Most hatcheries raise freshwater fish, but saltwater fish such as striped bass, red drum, salmon, snook, and sea trout are now being raised successfully. Fry, the smallest fish stocked, are the least costly to raise, but many of them die after release. Adult fish survive better but cost more to raise. 

Raising and stocking fish, however, is costly and sometimes not necessary. Why stock trout in a lake if the yellow perch fishing is great? Why risk upsetting the balance in a great bass lake by stocking northern pike? Fisheries managers realize that each lake or river has its own unique combination of fish present. This assortment of fish represents the "carrying capacity" of that aquatic system. Smart anglers know that if they sample different waters, they will discover a wide variety of fish. They also know that all of them are fun to catch and just about all of them are great to eat! 
Certain fish populations, including sunfish, perch and bullheads, would benefit by more people fishing for them. Many anglers don't even know all these fish are out there waiting to be caught! Without enough angling pressure, panfish may overpopulate a lake or pond, resulting in lots of very small fish. This phenomenon, called "stunting" can be helped by anglers who take some of these panfish home to eat. More and more anglers are also discovering that these panfish can be the most delicious fish to eat!


Managing Habitat
There are many ways to protect habitat for fish populations. Aquatic plants are important for fish in most waters. They provide oxygen, attract food, and offer protection. However, too many plants are harmful and can "choke" a lake. Aquatic plants are hard to control. To manage weed growth, cutting, poisoning, uprooting excess plant growth and introducing fish that eat vegetation have all been tried. One of the best controls is limiting the plant food that enters the water in the form of sewage, fertilizers, or farm waste. 

Building "artificial reefs" to attract and provide a home for both freshwater and saltwater fish is another way fisheries managers improve some fisheries. Such artificial habitat provides cover, safety, and food for fish. Artificial reefs can be as simple as sinking a weighted Christmas tree in a lake or as complex as sinking an old ship offshore in the ocean. Reefs are important because they provide an area for the bottom of the food chain to develop. The algae and plankton that develop there are a source of food for bait fish and for game fish. Also, many fish are attracted because the reefs provide them with cover. If you haven't guessed by now, reefs are good places for you to fish! However, always check with management authorities before attempting to put something in the water to attract fish. You may need a permit to place structures in a lake or stream. 

Working to improve water quality by reducing the amount of pollution entering the water is one of the best methods of improving fish habitat. Government agencies make most of the efforts to improve habitat, but fishing clubs, scout troops, businesses, and local community groups supervised by government fisheries people have helped on local projects too. Building small dams to raise the level of a pool of water, placing rocks or logs on banks to reduce soil erosion, organizing a stream clean-up effort, and building small reefs are projects that can be done in your area.


Tips for Parents - Back to Top

Fishing is a great source of positive lifetime memories for children. 

Perhaps its greatest benefit is the opportunity fishing creates for loved ones to spend meaningful time with children. Often, conversation becomes unimportant. Just spending time together in the outdoors can be very reassuring for youngsters - and adults.

While catching fish is a natural thrill for kids, the size or species could matter less to them. But children have limited attention spans and can get bored after an hour or so. Let them try different baits or other places to fish. Pay attention to their equipment and ensure that they are placing their bait in a logical place to catch a fish such as close to rocks, logs, dock pilings, or weed clumps, etc. 

Its all about fun.

IT IS IMPORTANT that adults anticipate that children need to have a diversion.
Encourage them to go exploring, take some outdoor toys or let them take a swim. Make sure they get lots to drink, especially if the weather is hot and insist that they wear a hat and sunscreen to prevent over-exposure to sun. 

Some special snacks will also add to the enjoyment of the day. Fishing is also is a terrific way for youngsters to interact with nature and learn about our fish and other aquatic creatures as well as the need to use them wisely. Share your knowledge with them but try not to make them feel like they are being lectured.

Listen for feeback

they liked and disliked. It is important to reinforce the positive experiences and learn from the things that they did not care for. Start planning your next fishing adventure right away.

Cleaning your catch

 as it requires a very sharp knife. The most popular method of cleaning a fish is to fillet it. With a sharp, narrow-bladed filleting knife follow these steps:

1. On a flat surface, hold the fish by the head and make a cut just behind the gill cover from the backbone down to just behind the front (pectoral) fin, being careful not to cut the backbone.

2. Then run the knife along the length of the back bone cutting close to, but not into, the rib cage, pulling the meat away from the bones as you go.

3. Next cut down through the fish behind the rib cage to the vent and run the blade close to the spine, all the way out to the tail. To remove the skin, lay the fillet skin-side down on a flat surface. Hold the tail tightly, then run your knife blade away from you, cutting between the skin and the meat, the length of the fillet.


Fishing Regulations - Back to Top

Modern fishing tackle, boats, and electronic equipment make it possible for anglers to catch many fish. People are also learning about fish and fishing by watching TV programs and reading books and magazines. Also, some students study fishing and others attend special fishing courses. Because so many people are now learning how to fish skillfully, there's a danger that anglers may catch too many fish from some bodies of water.

Fishing laws or regulations protect the resource and help all anglers enjoy more success. The fact that most anglers must have fishing licenses is a common example of a fishing law or regulation. In most jurisdictions, however, very young anglers and resident anglers of retirement age are not required to purchase a license.

Other regulations may:

There are good reasons for such fishing laws. All are intended to conserve and improve fish populations. Often, fisheries biologists study bodies of water to check on fish numbers and the health of fish populations. Sometimes, they suggest a new law if it will help keep the fish population healthy. For example, if there is a fishing season in your jurisdiction, it may have been introduced to protect fish during spawning or as a way of limiting the number of fish caught on heavily fished waters. Size limits are also meant to protect fish of spawning size before they are caught.

No matter where you fish, check the fishing regulations carefully before you fish.

Daily fish limits are meant to keep people from taking too many fish at one time. This makes it possible for more people to share in a fishery. Plus, they enable conservation officers to arrest "poachers" for stealing more than their fair share of the resource. You can help conservation officers protect your fish, forests, and wildlife by obeying the laws

and reporting any violations that you see. Most jurisdictions have a special telephone number for reporting fish and game violations.


Fishery Research
Fisheries biologists are the scientists who manage fish populations. To do their job, they need as much information about a fishery as possible. They try to learn the needs of anglers and the condition of fish populations.

Biologists also need to know how many fish are being caught. They sometimes do this by taking information from anglers after a day of fishing. Sometimes, biologists study fish by collecting them with nets or in other ways. Biologists also mark fish with special tags or by clipping one or more of their fins. When marked fish are collected later, the biologists can learn many things. A tag or fin clip can tell them how fast fish are growing, how many are caught, and how far they have traveled. 
After studying this information, biologists try to decide the best ways to produce more and better fishing for anglers while still conserving the resource.


Financing Our Aquatic Resources
Do you know who pays for most of the research and other efforts to improve sport fisheries? Anglers do! The same people who use and enjoy them. Most of the money comes from the sale of fishing licenses.


Your Role
You can help those whose job it is to protect and improve our waters and fish populations. One way is to know and obey the laws for the waters you fish. You also can:

Through your efforts, we will all have good places to fish for years to come!




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