Learning to fish is a life skill that can one day save your life. In a bug-out situation, fish might be your best chance at a fresh meal. It may seem easy to catch a fish, but until you have actually caught one how will you know? I have always assumed that everyone has gone fishing. Tying a knot should be common knowledge. Baiting a hook should be easy. Casting, hooking, and reeling in a fish is second nature for everyone. But these assumptions are not true. You can’t skull drag every fish to your net. It takes experience to know when the line is about to break.

When it comes to artificial baits such as flies and lures, there is a learning curve. It takes experience to know what type of fly or lure to use in different situations. Lake fishing from shore is different than being on a boat. River fishing is a different set of challenges too. Fishing in the ocean is even less predictable. Some fish you just don’t want to hook into.

One thing for sure is the statement ” give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life”. With that said, let’s take a look at some fishing techniques.


Learning to Fish with the right Gear

If you are fishing freshwater, your gear will be different than saltwater. If you are targeting big fish or small fish, small streams to large rivers, big lakes to small ponds. All these factors determine gear selection. Bait selection also plays a role in having the right gear. When targeting different species, using the right bait will help in your success. You don’t want to use live baits in catch and release fishing, because you can’t release a fish that has been hooked in the gut.

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Let’s start with the most common type of fishing. Simple setups like a worm and a bobber are effective for almost all fish species. I use an eagle claw 6-foot, 6-inch medium-action pole and a Runcl (size 3000) open-faced spinning reel for bait fishing. A fluorocarbon line is best because light passes through it, but monofilament will be just fine for bait fishing. Learning to fish in different weather conditions is important. On a sunny day, fish will be in deeper water or undercover. So cast your bait into a shady area such as, under a boat dock, bridge or close to any cover a fish could be around. On cloudy days the fish will move further from their hiding spots.

If you can see the fish, it is likely they can see you too. So be stealthy crouch down or hide as much as possible. Fish spook easily but have short memories. So if you spook a school of fish give it 20 minutes and try again. Increase or decrease the distance between your bait and bobber to the depth you need. Floating a bait and bobber down a river is also an effective way to catch fish.

Bottom fishing

Fishing on the bottom is similar to bobber fishing. Simply remove the bobber from above the bait and add weight below the bait. After casting out into the water draw your line tight so you can detect any movement or pull on your line. Any action on the line or tug on the pole is an indicator of a bite. Sometimes a bite can be so subtle, you can miss it on a windy day. Other times a big bite can send your pole flying into the water. So it’s a good idea to secure the pole with a pole holder, an automatic pole holder, or between some rocks.

Although bottom fishing can be very productive, it does have its challenges. By having your rig on the bottom you will snag it on rocks and branches more often than other methods. Fishing at night is a blast! Bottom fishing is my go-to method for catfishing. Catfish are delicious and fun to catch. Occasionally hooking into a carp is fun, but not good to eat.

Jigging on the bottom is effective when you are on a boat, ice fishing, or above a deep body of water such as a deep drop off from the shore or a nice pool in a river. Jigging is bouncing your bait or lure on and off the bottom. the movement attracts the attention of the fish. Trout magnets are a good choice for jigging.

Learning to Fish with Lures

This is my favorite type of fishing. I like to keep moving. When a fish strikes a lure you can feel it. The catch rate is much higher as well. The pole is in your hand already and the fish gets caught on the lip because the lure is a moving target. The fish has little chance of swallowing a lure.

There are many types of lures for the many species of fish. Bass will eat anything, but success rates go up using lures specifically made for bass fishing. The same is true for trout. I prefer trout fishing because trout are delicious. I also prefer cooler weather and trout are a cold water species. Salmon are also delicious and part of the trout family. You can target salmon and trout with the same lures.

Fishing with Panther Martin spinners has become my go-to method lately. Crankbaits such as HD trout or Rapala have also landed quite a few beauties for me lately. I like to use an eagle claw ultra-light 6-foot pole for river fishing. Small to medium Runcl open-faced spinning reels (size 3000) work great. A braided line with an 8 to 10-foot fluorocarbon leader is my setup for river fishing. The braided line doesn’t twist as much and I don’t like to use barrel swivels. (The moving water along with the spinning action of the lure causes twisting. Barrel swivels prevent twisting but having more knots in your rig leads to more weak spots in your set-up.)

I use a fishing vest instead of a tackle box. I can easily fit everything I need and it keeps my hands free. Insulated waders keep me warm, but I prefer non-insulated waders in the summer.