National Fishing Week is upon us, and you know what that means. It’s time to get out your bait and your tackle; grab your hooks, lines, and sinkers; pack your lures, gaffs, and waders; and get out there and catch a record-breaker.
But the right gear is only part of the equation when it comes to catching a fish. As with most things, educating yourself is a vital first step to attaining your fishing goals. Where you The more you know, the more likely you are to hook the fish you’ve got your eye on.
To start you off right, we’re here to share some tips that help transform you into a fishing pro.
1. Get the right license
The first way to increase your odds of catching a fish is being allowed to fish in the first place! With some exceptions (which we’ll get to in a moment) you’ll need a license to go fishing. Each province handles licenses in their own way, but it’s pretty easy to get a license even for just a single day of fishing. The right licensing body for each province is just a Google search away, and on some cases you can even buy your license online. Licensers can also provide you with other useful information, such as regulations about how many fish you can legally catch, and by what methods.
But this week, Ontarians can forget about a license. During National Fishing Week, you can actually go fishing in Ontario license-free — and other provinces have license-free days too. In Newfoundland, residents can fish for trout without a license, period. It’s definitely worth looking into licensing rules where you live to see if there are opportunities to skip the license.
2. Learn about the species you’re after
All you need to catch a fish is a line, a hook, and a body of water, right? Well, yes and no. While that covers the basics, the odds of catching a fish vary by species, by season, and even by time of day. There are some extremely helpful guides to the fish of Canada, where they live, and what sort of bait they go for. So before you cast your line, hit the books and collect information on the particular type of fish you’re trying to catch. Knowing where and when to go is more important than any fancy lure or rod.
3. Talk to locals
Sure, there are plenty of fishing guides online, but if you want to learn about the best fishing in a particular region, locals know more than Google. Avid fishers build up their own private lists of hotspots, and they’re much more likely to share them if you have a real face-to-face discussion, so strike up a conversation and ask the person who’s selling you your bait where they go to make their big catches. You might just learn about a secret spot no guidebook could ever tell you about.
4. Collect your own bait
There are lots of fancy lures at bait shops, but sometimes the best way to catch a fish is with things that are available in its own environment. Worms, crickets, minnows — all of these are used to catch a fish’s attention, and you don’t have to go to a bait shop to get them. Of course, the type of bait to use will depend on the fish. Trout, for example, like minnows, while bluegills prefer crickets. And walleyes are partial leeches, which are particularly easy to to catch (if you’re willing to use yourself as bait).
5. Fish according to your personality type
Like people, fish have many different lifestyles. So if you want to enjoy yourself, choose the kind of fishing that suits you best. Not a morning person? Go fishing on an overcast day when the fish stay out beyond the early morning. Don’t like to sit still? Try fly fishing, which will keep you busy casting. Not into seafood? Learn about catch-and-release fishing. There’s a fish out there for everyone.
6. Become a knot master
Losing your hook when you’ve got a catch on the line is every fisher’s worst nightmare. So don’t let your fish slip away — learn the best knot for your line and lure and master it. Knot-tying is an essential skill for outdoorsy types anyway, and it’ll keep you from losing your boat as well as your fish, so before you go fishing, make like a scout and practice until you could tie a perfection loop in your sleep.
7. Learn the slingshot cast
You may love the summer sunlight, but a lot of fish don’t. Crappies, trout, and plenty of other fish would rather hang out under a dock, or even under your boat. If you want to reach them, you may have to learn to cast into tight spaces. That’s where the slingshot cast comes in. Using your rod like a slingshot, you can get your lure into tight spots where the fish are hiding out. It will take a little practice, but your odds of getting a bite will go way up.