Anyone who wants to fish can learn how. Shore fishing is an enjoyable sport for the whole family. It provides quality time with the added excitement of feeling a bite on your line.
Please remember to keep an eye on your children, as they should never be unsupervised around the water.
If you have to walk, ride or drive to the water, it doesn't matter. Just get there.
Start at your local tackle dealer. Ask the salesperson about shore fishing spots they recommend. If they want your business, they will do whatever it takes to help get you hooked on shore fishing. DO NOT BUY THE MOST EXPENSIVE GEAR AVAILABLE. You can literally catch fish on a hook and line tied to a stick. So buy a moderately priced rod and reel. You can buy the more expensive gear as you get more involved with shore fishing. And remember, some of the real flashy baits are sometimes designed to catch the fisherman's eye, not the fishes.
Ask other fishermen for advice, or maybe to let you go along on their next shore fishing outing. In general, fishermen are a friendly bunch that enjoys helping out. If you have a relative or friend that likes to fish, even better. They will have the added pleasure of your company.
Now let's look at the types of rods and reels available. We will only concentrate on 2 types for now: Spin casting and Spinning. (Bait casting reels require extra instruction that we will not get into right now. Also, fly fishing is a whole different set of instructions and techniques.)
A spin casting reel is probably the easiest to master (works great for children). It is mounted on the top of the rod, and is kept in this position for casting and retrieving. The spin casting rod will probably have a "pistol" style grip handle. The "eyes" or line guides are small, and do not increase very drastically as they go from the tip of the rod to the handle. A medium action rod is great for beginners.
To cast the line, press the release button (at the back of the reel) with your thumb. Make sure your lure is hanging loose from the tip of the rod by a few inches. Facing where you want to cast, keep the elbow of your casting arm at your side. Now bring the rod tip up over your shoulder (avoid bringing it up from the side for now). Stop when the rod is at about a 45-degree angle behind you (2:00 position). With a quick and smooth motion, snap your hand forward to about 45-degrees in front of you (11:00 position). Release your thumb from the button, but let your arm continue to follow through till the rod is parallel to the ground (9:00 position). With practice, you'll learn when to release the button to get your lure to the right spot.
A spinning reel is probably the easiest to learn to cast accurately. It is mounted on the bottom of the rod, and is kept in this position for casting and retrieving. The spinning rod will probably have a long straight handle. The "eyes" or line guides are larger then a spin casting rod, and they do increase very drastically as they go from the tip of the rod to the handle. A medium action rod is great for beginners.
To cast the line, flip the bail (the curved metal piece at the front of the reel) and hook the line with your index finger. Make sure your lure is hanging loose from the tip of the rod by a few inches. Facing where you want to cast, keep the elbow of your casting arm at your side. Now bring the rod tip up over your shoulder (avoid bringing it up from the side for now). Stop when the rod is at about a 45-degree angle behind you (2:00 position). With a quick and smooth motion, snap your hand forward to about 45-degrees in front of you (11:00 position). Release your index finger from the rod, but let your arm continue to follow through till the rod is parallel to the ground (9:00 position). With practice, you'll learn when to straighten your finger to get your lure to that specific spot.
The main difference between the two styles, is how the line is released.
Want to cast further?
Practice in a field with a weight or bolt tied to your line. Practice not only improves your aim, it also helps increase the distance. Practice both over hand, and when you master it, try the side arm method. The same basic principles apply, just picture the clock for the casting locations as being sideways.
A 7'-0" rod will cast further then a 6'-6" rod, which will cast further then a 6'-0" rod, which will cast further then a 5'-0" rod (I think you get the picture).
When you move your hand forward to cast, try to "snap" your wrist at the same time. The trick to great casting really is all in the wrist.
People will tell you that one of the most important things to remember is to keep your hooks sharp. We say,"If the hook comes of the line, it doesn't matter how sharp it was." Propper knots are essential for a successful fishing trip. We will look at a few basic types.
Always remember that once a knot is made tight, clip off the extra line, leaving approximately 1/4".
To attach the line to the reel, I suggest the Slip Knot. Make sure you run the line backwards through the rod's guide's. Tie an overhand knot at the end of the line (just like when you start to tie your shoelace). Wrap the line around the reel's spool once. Pass the end of the line around the rest of the line and tie an overhand knot. Hold the line going to the spool and pull tight. The first knot will slide up to the second one, allowing it to draw tight.
One of the best knots for tieing hooks or other tackle to the line is the Clinch Knot. Pass the line through the eye of the hook (or tackle).With your finger on top of the hook, make 6-8 turns around the line. Pass the end of the line through the loop above your finger. Next, pass the line through the loop you just formed. Pull on the line while holding the end from sliding back through the loop. The line should form neat coils as it slides down to the hook. (It may help the line slide better if you wet it a bit first.)
A Palomar Knot is an easy knot to use for fastening lures to the line as well. Fold the line over itself, and feed the loop through the eye of the lure. Tie an overhand knot behind the lure (but don't pull tight). Put the lure through the loop. Slowly pull the knot tight.
A Surgeon's Knot works great for tying to different diameter lines together. Place the two lines beside each other in opposite directions. Leave about six inches overlap on each side. Treating the two lines as one pick them up and together and make an overhand knot, pulling the entire length of double line through the loop, but dont pull it tight. Now pass the double line through the loop again. Once this is done, simply hold both ends of the lines and slowly pull the knot tight. Remember that one end of the two lines will need to be pulled through the loop to complete the overhand knot.
A lot of cities are built close to, or on, rivers or lakes. If this is the case for you, find a park along the water (check local regulations to be sure you can fish on public property). You could politely ask someone who works at your local outdoor store. They will most likely give you some good advice.
If you don't have a river near by, grab a map and find a lake close to you. Basically, any place with water will do.
Now that you're on the shore, let's decide where to fish. When shore fishing in a lake, river or stream, always remember that fish like two things: food and shelter.
If you see a break in the water (somewhere that the water slows down), there's a good chance that some fish are hanging around there (since this is where their food would be).
If there's a "hole" (deeper water) close to shore, try to cast your lure past it, then retrieve it trough that area.
The inside bend of a river will usually be a good bet.
When shore fishing, look for weed edges, bridge pillars, docks, logs, rock piles (structure) or sloping shorelines. Any transition place (where the bottom changes from rocks or sand to mud, or the other way around) is ideal for fish. Always cast upsteam, and let the current bring your lure past your desired location. You may get lucky casting towards a dock, or under an over hanging tree. Don't limit yourself.
Like most things with shore fishing, you will need to experiment a little if you want to catch fish. Try different locations, with different lures, at different times of the day (or night).
Generally, any time you can. Fish feed all the time. but if you'd like to better your odds of having a successful shore fishing trip, right before or after a change in air pressure is ideal (before or after it rains is a great time to head out to the water).
I know a lot of older fishermen who swear by the moon phases. 3 days before, during, and 3 days after a new moon.
Others say 3 days before, during, and 3 days after a full moon.
Fish are usually easier to catch at low light periods. From dawn to 3 hours after, and 3 hours before till dusk are great fishing times.
Night fishing is also a blast, but make sure you have a flashlight or headlamp. Also check the fire regulations if you plan on building a fire. Never, ever leave a fishing spot until you are sure the entire fire is out. Too much of our natural resources burn every year because someone "thought they put the fire out", or they "thought it would burn itself out". Don't take the chance. It only takes a few extra minutes to put it out right, but a generation to bring it back.
Cloudy days, with a lite breeze offer a great chance to catch fish all day. They are usually active most of the day feeding, or just moving around.
Clear calm days without a ripple on the water will produce fish, but the amount of fish may not be as good as when there are some ripples on the water.
The more natural the bait the better. I've found night crawlers (big worms) and minnows (small fish) work fine most of the time. Whatever natural bait is avaiable on a specific body of water will produce fish.
Sometimes the fish are not activley feeding. These times call for lures that will cause the fish to "strike" just out of instinct. Some flashy lures (spoons, jigs, spinner baits, and crank baits) are designed to make fish bite even when they're not feeding, due to sound, motion, and color.
Every tackle box I own will always have various size jigs and soft plastic worms in them. They are a good standard when nothing else seems to work. I've seen a number of different species caught on different colored jig heads matched with different colored plastic worms.
If fishing for pan fish, small hooks with small bait work great. Natural or artificial.
Bass will hit on spinner baits and pork rinds quite often.
Walleye can't resist a jig tipped with a minnow or plastic worm. Sometimes the'll nail a perch colored crank bait or yellow and red spoon.
Northern Pike love a red and white spoon, or yellow spoon with five red diamonds on it. They will also hit a jig with a green plastic worm (it looks like a frog swimming).
Channel Catfish in Manitoba love goldeye slabs or tiger prawn shrimp on a number 1.0 or 2.0 hook. They also love chicken livers, or hearts.
Carp will bite on a number 4 hook with a worm or corn on it. Sometimes a minnow.
Sturgeon will swallow a big glob of worms on a single hook.
A lot of fish will go for a fresh slab cut from a bait fish, just make sure it's legal.
These are not the only baits to use for these fish, just some lures from our past experiences, and what has worked best. Sometimes you'll be fishing for one type of fish, and catch a totally different species. You maybe surprised.
The main thing to remember is "you need to experiment". Different locations call for different bait to make the fish bite at different times. If your fishing a new body of water, check to see what the local fishermen are using.
If the water your fishing in is murky or dark, use darker baits or hooks.
If you are fishing in clear water, you'll probably do better with a bright colored lure.
General rule of thumb: clear sunny days-use brighter, colorful, shiny bait; dark overcast days - use dull, darker colored bait.
But rules of thumb are just a starting point, nobody said you have to stick to them.