For starters, there’s a lot to love about the sport. It’s low-risk, inclusive, not too gear intensive, and one of the original forms of socially distant fun. Plus, it can be done close to home and is an easy way for the entire family to try a new activity together and unwind for an afternoon. Whether you’re dropping a line in a neighborhood lake or packing the family tent for a weekend excursion, here’s how to make the most of your next fishing adventure.
Pick the Right Spot
If you’re new to the sport or casting with the fam, start where you’ll have the most success. Many city and regional parks stock their waters with fun-to-catch species like sunfish. The same goes for state parks, where fishing piers and boat rentals are common, making the sport even more beginner-friendly (and hiking and biking trails can round out the outing). Privately owned trout ponds are great too, since the action is all but guaranteed. If you’re after more-secluded waters, Take Me Fishing has a great interactive map to help you find a nearby spot as well as current information about what’s biting and which bait is working.
All you really need to catch fish is a rod, a reel, and some bait. So keep it simple: inexpensive spin-cast combos simplify the gear-buying process and can work for a variety of freshwater situations. There are kids’ setups too, with shorter rods and fun graphics that will get young ones excited to throw a line. As for bait, worms and corn are classics for lake fishing, but artificial options—soft nuggets scented to attract specific species of fish—are also great for beginners. Don’t forget a net for hauling in fish, a pair of needle-nose pliers to help remove the hook, and a knife for cutting line. Bug spray, sunscreen, and a hat are essential as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting cities and states at different times and in different ways. Head to TakeMeFishing.org for guidance on fishing responsibly and the latest updates on your state’s rules and regulations.
Get a License
Fishing regulations change with the season and vary depending on the body of water, but it’s easy to check your state’s specific rules. The most important thing to remember? Get a state fishing license. It’s an inexpensive and easy step you can take care of online, and your purchase goes directly to conservation efforts in the state.
Embrace the Whole Experience
Any angler will tell you that actually landing a fish is just a bonus—it’s the hike to the pond, the quiet moments between casts, and the cookouts afterward that make fishing so rewarding. So follow their lead and think of fishing as part of a greater experience. For an afternoon trip with the family, break up casting sessions with other activities: climb trees, throw a Frisbee, play a game, or look for turtles in the water. Bring snacks and comfy chairs so you can set up a base camp and have a picnic. Even better, pack a small grill and something easy to cook, like hot dogs, to make the afternoon feel like a full-blown vacation.
Fishing is an excellent activity to complement a camping trip, and Reserve America keeps a list of campgrounds with great fishing opportunities. But be sure you pitch your tent in a spot where fishing will be just one of the many adventures on your agenda. It’s easy to bring fishing gear along for the ride and cast a line between hiking excursions and rounds of swimming in the lake.
Take Me Fishing is a national campaign from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. RBFF helps people of all ages and experience levels, learn, plan and equip for memorable moments on the water.