Lake fishing might seem tricky and complicated for some outdoor warriors, but it doesn’t have to intimidate you and hold you back from casting that rod. Read on to help you prepare and make you confident in catching a fish.
Lake Fishing 101: A Guide on How to Easily Catch Fish | 9 Lake Fishing Tips
1. Study the Lake
Lakes often have an abundant volume of fish and plant food which makes them ideal for fishing. Additionally, they possess a variety of species such as rainbow trout, largemouth or smallmouth bass, panfish, perch, bluegill, and walleye.
It’s important to note that there are two kinds of lakes – natural and man-made. Knowing the difference between the two will make your lake fishing experience more successful. It’s also best to talk to professional guides since they have a broad knowledge of areas where you can fish.
Natural lakes have less sediment compared with man-made ones. If you’ll be fishing here, focus on areas containing reeds or lily pads. You can easily find fish near these vegetations since these spots have higher oxygen levels. Look for rock piles or logs as well since these serve as a shelter or hiding place for fish.
On the other hand, focus on edges of creek beds and drop-offs when fishing in man-made lakes. You should also consider the water levels as they vary depending on the time of the year.
2. Get a License
Before you go out for lake fishing, be sure that you have a valid fishing license. You can get one either in convenience stores, online, or in fishing shops.
The cost of a fishing license varies from one state to another, but normally, the price of a one-day license is around $25. However, it would cost you more if you’ll be fishing in a state where you’re not a resident.
If you happen to enjoy your first lake fishing experience, you might want to go out and try catching fish again. In this case, you can consider getting an annual license which would cost between $30 and $150.
3. Research on Environment
When fishing, keep in mind the visibility and temperature of the lake, as these physical and environmental conditions would greatly affect how you must do your activity. Studying these circumstances would help you identify the correct fishing gear and methods you should be using to maximize your lake fishing experience.
Knowing where the fish could be hiding can help you target them easily. A lake that’s too clear can scare away the fish. It’s best to do lake fishing during cloudy days when the water clarity is steady and fish aren’t vulnerable.
If you’re targeting a particular species, keep in mind the water temperature. For instance, a trout prefers a temperature of 40-65 degrees Fahrenheit, and a walleye is more active in a water temperature of 65-70 degrees.
You also have to note that the hotter the temperature, the deeper you have to fish. This is mainly because fish prefer cool temperatures, and so they would dive deeper during hot days. On the other hand, when the wind is strong, fish tend to be pushed to the shore, so keep an eye on drift lines.
4. Invest in Gear
Even if you’re a beginner in lake fishing, you should already invest in fishing gear. You might want to consider a spinning reel and rod combo which is relatively easier to set up. Then, make sure that you have good baits and multi-purpose lures to effectively catch fish.
Choosing the right bait is important as you don’t want to have a long and unproductive day when lake fishing. Baits come in various sizes and shapes, and they include maggots, minnows, grasshoppers, crickets, leeches, worms, and crayfish. Keep in mind that like humans, fish also have their preferred food, so be aware of the type of bait that will attract them.
Lures are also used to entice and get the attention of fish. However, you might want to use lures that you can afford to lose. Use a small tackle box to store and organize all your lures and bait.
You can also add boots, waders, needle-nose pliers, a net, a thermometer, and an ice chest to your lake fishing kit. Also, like any other outdoor activity, a pair of sunglasses would help you see better and to block the sun’s harmful UV rays.
5. Use the Right Knot
Learning about knot tying and choosing the best knot will help you easily catch fish.
For a braided fishing line, the most ideal knot is a Palomar knot. However, keep in mind that this knot is the worst one to tie with the fluorocarbon fishing line. For this type of line, use a clinch knot instead. You can use either Palomar or clinch knot with a monofilament fishing line.
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If you’re new to this activity, you can watch videos to learn about different knots and how to properly tie them.
6. Practice Casting
Casting is similar to throwing a baseball – straightforward and instinctive. However, you have to learn how to precisely cast a spinning rod so that your efforts won’t go to waste. Keep in mind that although there are different types of fishing rods, the basic actions of casting are almost the same.
Using your dominant hand, grip your rod’s handle, then lift your casting arm. Once your rod is slightly vertical and is already in front of your face, smoothly and quickly sweep your rod forward. Afterward, steadily hold your rod, while putting a bit of tension, in order to identify a bite.
Familiarize yourself with the elements and mechanisms of your rod, and practice before you go lake fishing. It might take a few tries to make it right, but once you perfect your casting, everything will fall into place.
7. Learn How to Set a Hook
You’d want to keep the fish from spitting your hook and to avoid your fishing line from breaking. To prevent these from happening, you have to set your hook properly into the mouth of the fish.
Once you feel that the fish has already bitten your bait or lure, moderately pull back your rod so the lure would stay inside the fish’s mouth. Keep in mind that less drag is necessary if you’re expecting a small fish, and more drag is needed if you’re catching bigger species.
8. Handle Your Catch With Care
After you have successfully hooked a fish, you can use a net to scoop up your catch. Be sure to keep it off the ground, and prevent it from being dropped on rocks.
You can also gently wrap your fingers around the fish, and place your hand under the belly. Don’t touch the gills and squeeze the stomach.
Use a pair of pliers to remove the hook. Simply rotate and pull it gently the same way the hook came into the mouth of the fish.
Avoid wiggling and putting too much force while pulling. If the hook is deep, you can cut it instead.
9. Prioritize Your Safety
Fishing hooks are sharp objects, so be careful all the time while handling them. You also don’t want to harm other anglers, so be sure that the area is clear before you cast your rod.
If you’re using a fishing boat, don’t forget to use life jackets especially if you’re bringing your little ones. Additionally, wear waders and stay hydrated when lake fishing.
Check the weather before going out, and don’t head out to areas where fishing is restricted. Your safety should be your priority over anything else.
One way to improve your lake fishing success is to be sure that you have the perfect rod that will meet your needs. Watch this video by Take Me Fishing to guide you in getting the most ideal rod for your next fishing activity:
It isn’t a problem if you don’t have any experience and specialized knowledge of lake fishing. Just follow these tips, and you can make lake fishing your next outdoor hobby.
Do you have other lake fishing tips in mind that you’d like us to know about? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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