Posted by: Karen Fowler
Fishing is an ancient activity that has allowed people all over the world to feed and entertain themselves for thousands of years. When heading out on your next vacation, plan to spend a few hours or days fishing the local rivers, lakes, or ponds. While you need not become an expert to enjoy recreational fishing, you will have better success - and therefore more fun - if you learn the basic tackle, baits, and lures used for fishing. Additionally, it is important to have a working knowledge of the proper techniques to use in different situations. Fortunately, a few types of lures and a handful of fishing techniques work for a wide variety of fish species.
Humans have been fishing to feed their families for at least the last 40,000 years. Initially, humans used sharpened sticks and spears to capture fish, but over time, they began to develop more sophisticated techniques. The Egyptians fed their civilization in part by using nets to capture fish in the Nile River. Egyptians were using fishing poles by at least 2000 BC, but some experts believe that Native Americans developed the first fishing poles and lures. In the mid-15th century, fishing became a leisure activity and wealthy gentlemen began enjoying the sport largely as modern day men, women, and children do. While manufacturers continue to make incremental advances in rod, reel, and lure technology, most equipment resembles that used by anglers half a century ago.
Equipment and Tackle
Recreational fishing is a gear-intensive activity, but you can get started with a relatively small number of items. Use a rod and reel suited for the type of fishing you will be engaging in: An 8-foot cane pole is great for hauling a catfish from a pond, but a lightweight, 6-foot pole is better for finessing trout out of a wooded stream. Many different types of reel are available, and all have different pros and cons. Spin casting reels are effective and simple, so they work well for beginners or youngsters. Spinning reels offer more touch and flexibility than spin casting reels do, but they are slightly more difficult to use. Bait casting reels are unsurpassed for casting accurately, but they require a great deal of practice to use correctly. Saltwater fishing requires much more durable and specialized gear; fortunately, piers and bait shops frequently rent gear for those on vacation.
Natural Bait
While modern technology allows manufacturers to produce stunningly realistic artificial fish, worms and other prey species, they are simply not as effective as real baits are. Many different species work well, including earthworms, leeches, frogs, crickets, salamanders, beetle larvae and small fish. The bait must match your target species - bream and similar small fish eagerly devour worms and crickets, while large fish, such as grouper and sharks, require the use of large baitfish. Hooks designed specifically for live bait often feature barbs to keep the bait in place on the hook. It is important to check your local regulations and laws, as live baits are not legal in some areas.
Whether using live bait or artificial lures, the goal is the same: Entice a fish to bite the bait. Anglers use a variety of techniques to increase the odds that a fish will find the lure or bait appetizing. It is necessary to use the correct technique for the bait, target species and environmental conditions. If using an insect, worm or fish, many anglers simply cast the bait into a promising location and wait to feel a fish bite. Some anglers incorporate a float, cork or bobber, which keeps the bait higher in the water. Bobbers and other floating tools also provide a visual cue when a fish strikes the bait, as the bobber temporarily sinks under the water. Artificial lures require more elaborate techniques to make them appear alive. Some lures - known as swimming lures - resemble swimming baitfish; anglers use them by repeatedly casting and retrieving them. Spinner baits and crankbaits work in similar fashion. By contrast, plastic worms, attached to a weighted hook work well for a technique called "jigging." When jigging, anglers repeatedly twitch their rod tip while slowly drawing in the slack line, causing the plastic bait to resemble a fish or other creature swimming up and down through the water. Trolling is a technique that allows anglers to cover a lot of water by dragging a lure behind a slow moving boat, and works best for fish that frequent the open water.
Tips and Tricks
The key to enjoying a vacation-fishing trip is to catch many fish. Rather than concentrating on catching a trophy-sized sport species, spend your time targeting species common to the area. If possible, select lures, tackle, and bait that work with a variety of species. A medium-weight rod and spinning reel combo pairs well with plastic or live worms. With such a set up, you can catch bream, bass, trout, catfish, and many other freshwater species. Likewise, when fishing the ocean from a pier, select hooks and tackle appropriate for the abundant small fish, rather than the heavy-duty gear appropriate for sharks and barracudas. Natural baits usually catch more fish than their artificial counterparts do, so utilize them when it is legal and practical to do so. While the most productive techniques for artificial lures vary with the species and location, jigging is an effective strategy for a wide variety of fish. Finally, because fish can be very fickle; observe those fishing around you - emulate the techniques that are bringing others success.