Ethics  |  Terminology  |  Knots  |  Types of Fishing  |  Safety Equipment  |  Cleaning a Fish  |  Playing a Fish  |  When to Fish  |  Tackle Box Help  |  Kid Safety  |  Fishing Rods

Fishing with Kids An Article by Joe Reynolds

The Old Art of Catching Fish with the Hands (Noodling) By Todd Waterman

The Basics Of Fishing By Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (PDF 4MB)

Fly Fishing Checklist


Catching fishes from the oceans, lakes, or streams is not only the most popular but probably the oldest pastime pursued by man. Thousands of years ago men caught fishes in nets and traps woven out of vines. They also fashioned hooks from bone, stone, and thorns and baited them with worms, grubs, or insects. The term fishing applies to the act of catching a fish from its natural home, the water. Taking fishes with nets and seines for food is called commercial fishing; with hook and line for fun, it is called sport fishing.

Fishing is a popular sport because anyone can engage in it, regardless of age, sex, or income. Fishing can be enjoyed from childhood to old age, individually or in groups, with little more investment than a cane pole and a few hooks. Within an hour from most homes, there is usually a place to fish.

Perhaps the greatest appeals in fishing for fun are the opportunities it offers to get outdoors, to enjoy the companionship of friends, to learn interesting facts about nature, and to use new and varied skills to outwit the fish. In the United States many state, federal, and private organizations spend millions of dollars annually to keep a plentiful supply of fishes available for sportsmen to catch.

In fishing a set of ethics exists based on consideration for other sportsmen. One rule is to take no more fishes than one needs. Some of the best fishermen catch fishes for the sport of it, then release them unharmed for someone else to catch. The sporting methods a person uses in catching fishes and the consideration shown for others while fishing are the marks distinguishing a true fisherman.


There are five basic techniques used to catch fishes for fun: still fishing, bait casting, fly fishing, spinning, and trolling. Many variations of each technique can be used, depending on weather and water conditions, the type of fish sought, and the season of the year. A wide range of equipment can be used in each for the same reasons. The potential fisherman may select whichever method and whatever type of equipment suits his needs, desires, and budget.

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Fishing Ethics.

An ethical angler:

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Fishing Terminology

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Fishing Knots

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Type of Fishing

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Safety Equipment

When people are learning a new activity, personal safety has to be the first consideration. Safety equipment includes:

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Cleaning or Fileting a Fish

Filet Knife with Striped Bass Catch a fish. Take a Bass of about 1½ pounds and never keep bass over three pounds, letting the bigger ones go to catch again. You can filet any fish but bigger bream (brim) and crappie are better. Hybrids from ½ to three pounds are good, too.
Fish on Ice Ice fish down over night. Fish left on ice overnight produce bloodless filets the next day and are much less "fishy" tasting. Fish fileted and fried on the lake bank right after catching them are best, but if I am going to wait till I get home to clean them I always ice them down.
Filet Knife set up over a trashcan Get a good filet knife, sharpen it and find a flat table to use. The picture to the left shows my set-up with a board across a trash can. I like a big filet knife and I sharpen it just before starting. Many people use electric knives and they work well, but I often cut thru the backbone when I use one and hate cleaning them!
Gutting the fish Flatten the fish out on the board and make a slit through the belly of the fish, from just under the jaw down past the anal fin. I like to cut on either side of the anal fin - this helps guide the knife later. You neet a sharp tip on your knife for this step.
Removing the filet Lay the fish flat and cut across the body just behind the head. Cut down to the backbone but be careful not to cut thru it. When your blade hits the bone, turn it sideways and cut toward the tail, following the slit in the belly and cutting as close to the backbone as possible. Your knife needs to be extremely sharp to cut thru the rib bones during this step.
Removing the skin from a filet Follow the backbone to the tail, stopping the cut without cutting thru the skin at the tail. Let that skin hold the filet to the carcus and flip it flat. Cut between the skin and the meat.
Removing the ribs from a filet  You now have a filet with rib bones. Many people like to leave them in but I cut them out, ending up with a boneless, skinless filet. I usually put my filets in a ziploc bag with some salt and fill it with water, squeezing out all the water, and leave them in the refrigerator for a day or so. Take them out, rinse in cold water, pat dry, roll in cornmeal and fry. Or, you can freeze them in the ziploc bag. White fish like basss will keep many months. Oily fish like hybrids start to get rancid in a few months so I try to cook them within two months. They usually don't last that long!
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Playing a fish

When a fish feels the hook, it struggles to get free. This might involve jumping, making a long run, swimming back against the line or swimming around obstacles. Each species of fish fights differently.

Fish hooked in shallow water are more likely to jump and behave more frantically than those hooked in deep water. Deep-water fish often seek the bottom.

It's possible to land many small fish just by reeling them in. They'll fight, but they aren't as strong as the line and the rod. Use lighter tackle and you can get some fight out of the smallest fish in the lake.

If you're catch and release fishing, don't fight too long or the fish will die from exhaustion before or after you release it.

Fighting Bigger Fish

If a fish makes a run for it, don't panic. And don't try to reel in while the fish is swimming away from your line. Relax and let the drag and rod do the work. After you've set the hook, set your drag. If you're using 12-pound test, you should use about 4 pounds of drag. Just keep the rod at about a 45-degree angle to the water aim it straight at the fish.

When the fish slows down and stops taking more line, it's time to go to work. The best technique for the catch is to gently pull the rod up and then reel down as you lower it, using a pumping motion. Do it in small, smooth strokes rather than large abrupt sweeps because it will help keep both the line tight and the fish much calmer.  

If the fish runs again, let it go and you will probably notice that this run is shorter and slower. But don't let the fish rest. If you can't hear your drag working, you should be reeling.

Don't be anxious. Even if you get the fish close to the boat, that doesn't mean it's done fighting. If it turns and runs, let it go. Your line is pretty short at this point, and pump-and-reel action could break it.

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When to Fish


Early Morning

Fish aren't biting. The water is cold and doesn't heat up because the sun is low and the rays bounce off the water. But don't go home yet, because winter is over and fish are hungry and spawning. Best to wait until a week or so after thaw, as spring turnover takes time for the water temperature to even out to 39.2 degrees.

Late Morning-Early Afternoon

Fish are biting off and on. The water begins to warm up because rays begin to penetrate the water. Remember to fish the downwind shoreline, as the winds will push the warmer surface water along with surface food into that area.

Afternoon-Early Evening

Fish are eating a lot because their metabolism and digestion are cranked. Water is warm because the sun is directly overhead.

Early Morning-Late Afternoon

Fishing is excellent from before sunup to just before mid-morning. At this time of year there is abundant food and cover for fish, so finding hungry fish can be a challenge.


Early Morning-Late Afternoon

Fishing is excellent from before sunup to just before mid-morning. At this time of year there is abundant food and cover for fish, so finding hungry fish can be a challenge.

Late Morning-Early Afternoon

Fishing is poor for most of the day. Fish move to deep water to cool off.

Afternoon-Early Evening

Fishing is excellent from early sundown until dark as the waters cool and fish rise up from the depths.


Early Morning

Fish aren't biting much from sunup to early morning. The water is cool because the sun is too low to penetrate the water.

Late Morning-Noon

Fish are biting off and on in warmer, shallow water. The water is generally cool due to the season.


Afternoon-Early Evening

Fishing is excellent. Sun is directly overhead for several hours and the water gets more comfortable near the surface. This makes for seasonally good fishing because fish are putting on weight for the winter. Look for bait schools where bigger fish are more likely to be.

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Fishing Trip Tackle Box

Lets start the trip out correctly - by getting our Tackle Box cleaned out and a small inventory be taken. Make a fishing trip check list of all the fishing supplies you'll need to re-stock your Tackle Box!

What to bring in your Tackle Box

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Beginner Fly Fishing Gear Checklist

Consider making a checklist of the fly fishing accessories that you will need for your fly fishing trips. Have you ever gone fly fishing and sometime during the day discovered that a needed item was left at home? If you are a fly-fishing beginner or a seasoned veteran who is short on time, it's a good idea to have a checklist of needed items. If you are going to an exotic fly-fishing destination you need to make a list. The following is a grouping of items you may need on your checklist to support your next fly fishing adventure.

#1. Basic Items: First is the fly rod and reel; that's easy, but you may want to take a backup rod and reel in case of damage or failure. Consider a couple extra fly reel spools with a floating; sinking or wet tip fly lines. If you are making a trip to an exotic destination, you may need extra bulk spools of backing and leader material, or extra leaders in a wide range of lengths, and tippet strengths an a leader wallet might be handy.

#2. Optional Items: Fly-fishing vest and flies especially for the waters you are fishing, dry flies, fly floatant, and dry fly leaders. Your vest should have a fly patch to dry out water-logged flies. Nymphs and wet flies may need to be fished with strike indicators and shot for weight. Consider small pliers, leader nippers, hook hone, catch-releases tool, and small scissors. A med-sized Swiss army knife, flyline conditioner, stream thermometer, landing net, Campsuds, small hand towel, extra empty fly box plus an assortment of terrestrials and streamers flies.


#3 Needed Items: Waders, wading boots, or flats boots, wading staff, wader belt, studded sandals, Aquaseal adhesive, extra boot strings, float tube fins, inflatable PFD and accessories, extra boot socks, 2 pairs of polarized sunglasses, UVA & UVB waterproof sun block lotion SPF45, SPF 30 sun gloves, brimmed fishing hat, mosquito spray, dry bag, rain gear and a good rain hat, cold-weather clothing, underwear and gloves.

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Checklist for Young Angler safety

When you go fishing with kids, you need more than fishing tackle. For safety's sake, you've got to bring the right attitude Safety Comes First as well as the right stuff.

That's the advice from Hooked on Fishing International (HOFI), producers of the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby. This year, its seventeenth, the Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby program, along with the help of thousands of local volunteers, will take 300,000 kids fishing on lakes and ponds in all 50 states.

Here's the Safety-Comes-First checklist that HOFI has developed to guide the adult volunteers who supervise all those children (some as young as 5) in more than 1,800 fishing events held at the water's edge.

  1. Establish rules. No running. Keep your shoes on, and look around before you cast. 
  2. Set up a buddy system. The youngest anglers need an adult "buddy" and constant supervision. 
  3. Make sure each angler, swimmers and non-swimmers alike, wears a personal flotation device at all times -- on the boat, on the dock, or on the shore. 
  4. Bring a long-handled fish net, not just for netting fish, but in case you need to reach out to someone in the water. It will also retrieve trash or valuables from the water. 
  5. First Aid Kit. You should have a kit with medical supplies to deal with all manner of cuts and scrapes, bruises and bumps, bites and boo-boos. You're likely to be some distance away from professional medical assistance so remember, in the meantime, you're the "doctor." Johnson & Johnson First Aid Pocket Pals are a smart addition to the tackle box. 
  6. Cold drink breaks. Summer temperatures can get pretty warm, so bring lots of cool water and other healthy drinks and make sure the young anglers drink fluids often to prevent dehydration or even heat stroke. 
  7. Sunscreen. The ultraviolet (UV)  light of the sun can do a lot of damage to skin, eyes and lips. Outfit young anglers with proper sunglasses, a billed cap, and clothing appropriate to the climate and sun conditions. Avoid fishing in the middle of the day. Cover face, neck, ears, the back of hands and all exposed skin with sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Apply chap protection wax on lips. 
  8. Insect repellent. Mosquitoes, ticks, bees and other insects not only sting, they can carry diseases of one kind or another. Apply insect repellent. Follow the directions on the container. If your insect repellent contains "Deet," it may be better to apply it to the clothing instead of the skin. 
  9. Safety comes first. All the checklists in the world can't anticipate all of the safety problems you or your young anglers might encounter on a fishing trip. So the best advice is think safety at all times. Look for trouble before it finds you. If it finds you anyway, know how to deal with it.

HOFI teaches Safety Comes First to the organizations and adult volunteers that do the hard work of staging 1,800 fishing events every year. Organizations interested in hosting a youth fishing event can learn more about the program and even register on the web site,

Qualifying groups receive a free kit with the items needed to put on a local derby, including event promotion tools, a how-to handbook, name badges, prizes and goodies for each derby participant.

Parents who would like to bring their children to one of the events can find the nearest derby, and the dates, by checking the Derby Locator, also on the web site. The Derby Locator section even supplies the phone number of the local derby person to call for more information.

In addition to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Kids All-American Fishing Derby program benefits from its partnerships with Bar-S Foods Company, Berkley PowerBait, Berkley Trilene, ConAgra Foods, Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum, Eagle Claw, EverStart Batteries,, Fujifilm, Johnson & Johnson First Aid Pocket Pals, Kellogg's, Kraft Foods, Laker Fishing Tackle and Zebco.

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Fishing Rods for Different Types of Fishing

Make the statement "all fishing rods are the same" and you are bound to get some laughter and more than a few lectures from experienced fishermen. There are almost as many types of fishing rods are there are types of game fish. There is simply no way that you could have a "one-size-fits-all" fishing rod. Below is a list of some of the different types of fishing rods, and explanations as to why they work well for the type of game fish that they were made for. 

Selecting a Fishing Rod

Basic Fresh Water Rod Types

Bass fishing rod
The bass, both the freshwater and saltwater variety, is one of the most popular game fish. Bass tournaments are held in lakes and rivers each year, and the lucky fisherman who can land the biggest bass in one of these tournaments gets to take home not only a prize, but a great story as well. One of the reasons that bass are so popular with fishermen is that they can be crafty opponents, and fierce fighters. The type of fishing rod that is good for bass fishing is one that can take a lot of punishment. Landing a bass can take some time, and before you pull one into your boat or on shore, it is going to take your line for a ride, and bend your fishing pole every which way. Bass come in varying sizes, so of course bass fishing rods will come in different sizes, but they all need to be strong and extremely flexible. Bass fishing rods tend to be made from fiberglass more than anything else; though not as strong as graphite, it can take more extreme bending.
Trout fishing rod
Trout fishing rods do not generally need to be as flexible as bass fishing rods. Yes, there are some big trout out there – some as big as salmon – but generally they tend to be lighter than bass, with a little less fight in them. This doesn’t mean that trout aren’t fun to catch...the number of fishermen each year that go trout fishing in lake, rivers, and streams will attest to the fact that trout fishing is a wonderful way to spend the day. Trout poles usually run anywhere from seven feet to ten feet, with a nine foot pole being a good size for going from stream fishing on the shore to lake fishing in a boat. Trout fishing rods can be made from graphite; although graphite is not as flexible as fiberglass, with trout it is flexible enough. Of course, there are also fly fishing rods for trout, but these are in a whole different category than "regular" fishing rods.
Crappie fishing rods
The lengths of crappie fishing rods vary according to individual preference, but one thing about crappie fishing rods that needs to remain constant is that they must be light. Crappie fishing usually involves "jigging", or snapping the rod up and down continually to lure the fish toward the bait, and if your fishing rod isn’t light, it’s going to tire your arm and wrist out rather quickly. Crappies are fairly small fish, so a light fishing rod and light line are fine to use. Due to the type of fishing it is, comfort should be the main concern when it comes to a crappie fishing rod.

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