Freshwater Fishing Basics

Planning on spending some time away on a freshwater fishing trip or vacation? This guide shares tips and ideas to help you get the most out of your next fishing trip.

We look at freshwater fishing bait and tackle requirements for the most common types of fish to help you select the best gear for your needs.

Freshwater fishing is fishing in lakes, rivers and streams that have minute quantities of dissolved salts.

Freshwater sources are precipitation or melting ice and snow.

There are hundreds of fresh water fish species, but the most popular are bass, catfish, pickerel, pike sunfish, trout, salmon, muskellunge, sturgeon and walleye.

Basic freshwater fishing equipment includes a fishing rod and reel, fishing line between 4 and 10 pound-test, a variety of sinkers, a variety of hooks (sizes 6 to 10), floats, bait and in most locations, a fishing permit or license.

There are a wide variety of both live and artificial baits that work well for fresh water fishing.

Live bait works especially well for fresh water fishing - freshwater fish feed on a variety of prey, including earthworms, insects, insect larvae, frogs, minnows, chub, shad, crayfish and small fish species such as smelt.

Freshwater fishing bait such as earthworms, crayfish, frogs, minnows, chubs and shads can be caught in its natural habitat. Look around piers and in shallow water to catch this type of bait.

Live freshwater bait can also be purchased from your local bait and tackle shop.

Artificial bait is manmade bait that attracts fish to bite or strike.

It includes plastic worms, insects, flies, small jigs, lures, spoons, streamers, flies, spinners and more. Artificial bait can be purchased at fishing tackle and bait shops or online and some anglers prefer to buy their supplies for these types of baits and make their own.

There are a wide variety of prepared baits that you can use for freshwater fishing.

These include kernel corn, bread balls, cheese balls, egg bags, liver, cereal balls and chicken entrails.

Here is just a short list of some freshwater fish and the bait that attracts them.

Bass - earthworms, insects, insect larvae, frogs, minnows, crayfish, spoons, Mepps, spinners, artificial worms, jigs, streamers and spinners.

Catfish - earthworms, liver, chicken entrails, hotdogs, frogs, tadpoles, crayfish and most lures. At times you can even catch them on shiny hooks that have no bait.

Pickerel - earthworms, insects, insect larvae, frogs, minnows, crayfish, spoons and Mepps, spinners, artificial worms, jigs, spinners and streamers.

Pike - earthworms, frogs, minnows, shad, all types of small fish species, crayfish, chub, spinners, spoons and egg sacs.

Sunfish - earthworms, bread balls, kernel corn, insects and insect larvae, as well as small, shiny lures.

Trout - earthworms, flies, insects, insect larvae, kernel corn, egg sacs, crayfish and minnows.

Salmon - flies, spinners, spoons, egg sacs, shrimp and large plugs.

Muskellunge - small fish species, frogs, Mepps, spinners, jigs, minnows, plastic trailers and rapalas.

Sturgeon - frogs, freshwater clams, lamprey, eels, smelt, salmon eggs, shad, shrimp, egg sacs, yarn flies, brilliantly colored and silver lures.

Walleye - shad, frogs, real or artificial minnows, worms, maggots, spinners, spoons, jigs, plugs and small fish species.

If you wish to learn more about freshwater fishing, ask an experienced angler to give you some tips.

This can be a family member, a friend, a fishing guide or instructor or a staff member of your local bait and tackle shop.

We hope this guide to freshwater fishing has given you the basics you need to tackle your next fishing adventure...To read more about fishing, click here to return to the Fishing Home Page

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