As videos on Modern Carnivore illustrate, it’s pretty easy to get into fishing, and actually catch fish from public fishing piers and shorelines. And once you’ve experienced a certain level of success, it’s natural to want to up the game a little—perhaps looking for bigger bluegills and crappies, or targeting a different species altogether. So, where do you go for fishing advice?
Gathering the intelligence and the advice needed to make that move can be a source of frustration, though. So, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Where You Buy Your Tackle
Big-Box Stores can be a great place to get basic gear at low prices, but finding a salesperson who can offer useful fishing advice on equipment or the local scene is nearly impossible. They’re out there, but they’re rarer than an unembellished fish story. For solid fishing advice and hands-on experience with tackle and gear, head for the nearest big Outdoor Retailer. There are a few national chains and many regional ones, and in my experience the folks in the aisles understand what they’re selling and can walk you through the pros and cons of any rod, reel, lure, spool of line, piece of clothing or electronic device in the store. They also usually know what’s happening on major fishing waters in their area, as well as the skinny on nearby lakes. Considering the store might be an hour’s drive from home, however, don’t expect them to know about the waters in your backyard. For that type of information, drop into the Local Bait Shop. For the price of a couple dozen night crawlers or a scoop of minnows you can likely get the inside story on any lake within 15 miles of the cash register.
The Digital World
Surfing the Internet is easily the quickest way to gather a lot of fishing intelligence, but trying to make sense of it all is time consuming. Start by targeting your search. Make note of the marinas, resorts and bait shops on or near your favorite lake or river. Visit their websites and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find at least one that features fishing reports on local waters. Commercial websites are also valuable. Because national tackle makers want you to visit their sites regularly, they stock them with fishing tips, lake profiles and videos that are useful to beginners and veterans alike. Yes, the sites are designed to sell tackle, but they’re still a wealth of good information. Spend some time on this directed search you’ll also stumble across other resources—forums, newsletters, video channels—that you can use at the level you choose.
Fishing Advice From A Pro
If you really want to learn how to fish, consider hiring a professional guide for a half-day or day-long trip. Chances are you’ll find several that ply local waters, so you won’t have to travel far. Tell the guide right-off that you’re a novice and your main goal is to pick up pointers on techniques and bait selection and learn about fish biology and behavior–while you catch a few. Guiding is a service business and most professionals will be more than happy act as coach and provide the needed fishing advice. A growing number of guides are even marketing themselves as beginner-friendly, kid-friendly angling teachers. The cash outlay will probably be a lot lower than you imagine, and since most guides offer trips for two anglers, you can bring a buddy and split the cost.
Remember, these are starting points. Don’t be afraid to click interesting links on the sites you like, or go out of your way to find that secluded bait shop. You never know where the next good tip will come from.