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Gone fishing: A beginner's guide to learning how to fish

Feb 13, 2012, 6 a.m.

So, you are ready to learn to fish! You have heard all the stories about the excitement of catching the big one and how fishing provides a relaxing escape from the hectic pace of life, and now you are tempted to give it a try.

Before you begin purchasing the necessary supplies, know what kind of fishing you will be doing, as each type has different equipment. A rod and reel, line, hooks, bait and a good tackle box are the basic requirements. Fly fishing, shore fishing or deep-sea fishing require specialized equipment, so know ahead of time what you will need. Go to local sporting goods stores, asking plenty of questions. Fishing equipment catalogs are another excellent way of learning about the different types of equipment.

Something to remember when learning how to fish is people have been successfully catching fish for millennia without the help of all today's fancy equipment. No depth finders, titanium fishing reels or expensive lures, yet people still caught plenty of fish! Many old-time fishermen advise beginners to start simply. Buy a reliable rod and reel, and fish with live bait from the shore or boat. The point is to enjoy the experience of fishing, not spend your life savings on equipment. You will hear stories about magnificent fish being caught with an old cane pole or even a child's ten-dollar pole.

Talking to local fishermen might be helpful when learning how to fish, but fishermen tend to be a secretive lot. They want to keep their special fishing hole from being invaded by hordes of other fishermen. State and local wildlife personnel may be a better source of information. They will share knowledge of ideal fishing locations, seasons when specific fish are known to be biting and any hazards that might be lurking in the area.

Before you ever head to the local fishing hole to try out your newfound skills, learn the state and local fishing laws! Simply touching a baited rod without a license can land you a hefty fine. Many areas have special limits, both on the number of a specific species of fish that can be kept and their size. Fishing is quite a popular activity. It generates money statewide from licenses and locally from fishing tourism, so keeping a sizable population of sport fish is essential to the recreational value of lakes and rivers. So, know the laws and follow them closely, as they are strictly enforced. In addition to fishing laws, know the local regulations about having a campfire where you have set up to fish. In some areas, these are prohibited.

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