How to Start a Fishing Hobby: Read This First

October 14, 2021

So what want to turn your newfound interest in fishing into a serious hobby. But do you know how to start a fishing hobby?

Maybe a friend took you out in his boat, and it sparked your interest, or perhaps you fish on your own on a very rare occasion, and you want to take it to the next level. Whatever happened, you want to get serious about fishing, and you’re wondering the best way to go about it. If that’s the case, stick around. 

In this post, I’ll give you some advice on how to get started. 

Anglers and Fishing Budgets

There are two types of anglers out there, those who budget their spending money wisely and only buy a small amount of gear or lures from time to time, and the rest of us, who walk into a tackle store and walking out with a truckload of gear that’s the equivalent of two weeks of pay at our day jobs. 

To make a long story short, fishing can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, but at some point, if you become obsessed like us hardcore fishermen are, you will quickly find out how expensive it can get with rods and reels costing hundreds of dollars apiece, lures rack up in number and cost, and you find out that the word boat is an acronym for “Break. Out. Another. Thousand.”

When starting out, keep costs low, and the main reason to keep costs low is simple, you might find out you aren’t as interested once you start getting into the nitty-gritty of fishing. Keeping costs low also means that once you have the essential gear, you can actually afford to go fishing more often, and your significant other won’t send you to an early grave. 

How to Start a Fishing Hobby: School is In Session

fishing together

I was in the boat with an old man in his 70s during a random partner fishing tournament outing when I was a young man, and he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

“You know, they say 10% of fishermen catch 90% of fish, and I would have to agree.” 

We took first in that outing, and I would be lying if I said I caught all the fish. 

The bottom line when it comes to learning how to fish is that there is no substitute for time on the water.

Experience is the best way to learn. Sure, you can read all of the magazine articles, or watch all the videos out there for your favorite species, whether it’s bass, panfish, catfish, or muskies, and you might learn a few things and pick up some kernels of knowledge, but there’s just one thing about learning from magazines and videos. 

“Muskies don’t read magazines.”  

This was the response I received from the old weathered musky angler who taught me much of what I know today about musky fishing. He was testing the waters with my knowledge, asking me what I thought we should do on that particular day.

He wanted to see if I could put the puzzle pieces of the weather, atmospheric pressure, water temperature, time of year, and other factors together to make a case for the strategy we should use. 

I answered we should do a certain tactic and fish at certain locations based on something I read in a magazine, and he scoffed. We did catch two good muskies that day, doing almost the exact opposite of what I suggested. 

Learn How to Identify Fish

If you aren’t familiar with all the species of fish that swim in the aquatic environments where you live, start to learn how to distinguish one species from another. Some species are relatively close in appearance, like pike and musky, sunfish and bluegill, various catfish species, among others. 

Some states and lakes have special regulations, and if you misidentify a fish, not only are you subject to fines, you are also causing a detriment to the local fish populations as there are regulations on harvest limits and sizes for a reason.  

For example, many lakes in Wisconsin have a 50-inch size limit on musky, and you can only keep one per day, even though over 90% of all musky anglers practice catch and release. If you were to be out pike fishing and catch small musky thinking, it’s a pike, and a musky angler or someone were to see you, don’t be surprised if a game warden pays you a visit soon. 

After you get farther into your fishing career, you can take this a step further. Many anglers know the names of many of the types of submergent vegetation in a lake like tobacco cabbage, “regular” cabbage, Eurasian Milfoil, curly pondweed, eelgrass, and more.

Some fish prefer one type of vegetation over the others, and at times you can establish fishing patterns based on weed type, like pike and musky congregating on dense milfoil “walls” or cruising the edges of cabbage beds.  

Guided Trips 

fishing guide

Fishing guides are sport fishermen for a living, they do what you want to do almost daily, and a good guide is also a great teacher. They are a great way to learn how to start a fishing hobby.

They have to teach people how to cast, where to cast, what lures to use, what action you should impart on your lure, how deep you should be fishing, you name it. 

It’s not always an easy job, I know, because I have been there and done that.

Many anglers in my boat would not listen to anything I tried to tell them and thought they knew more, but if that was the case, why pay me to guide you? 

If you want a crash course in fishing on a local body of water or for a certain species, look into hiring a reputable guide. If you show interest in actually learning, and listen to their advice and do well in their boat, they will be far more willing to teach you versus the other guys who think they know it all. 

You will learn your local water and good areas to fish, and what tactics work on that given body of water. Just don’t be one of those guys who brings a handheld GPS to mark the spots, or you might swim back to the boat launch!

Don’t Get Frustrated

You might not have consistent success when you first get started in your fishing career. Fishing is just one of those things. You can spend a lifetime learning and still learn new things about fishing every single day. 

I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to my passion, and if you’re like me, you will probably go through rough patches where things just aren’t going your way. You see other guys on social media with good fish on the same lakes your fishing but you’re striking out.

It happens to the best of us, but you just have to take a step back and remember what you like about fishing, not about status or chest pumping. 

Things will get easier as you progress, it might take years, but things like presentations and fishing locations will almost become almost an instinct. You will have a good idea of what to do and where to fish based on the conditions that day. 

You Don’t Need a Boat 

fishing from shore

You don’t need a boat to go fishing or to catch fish. While it certainly does help immensely to have one, it isn’t a necessity. 

The fact of the matter is, boats are expensive. Even smaller boats with small motors will run thousands of dollars. Not everyone can afford one, and you also need a truck to haul larger ones. 

If you want to get on the water but can’t afford a boat that is dedicated to fishing, you can look into getting a kayak. Kayak fishing is incredibly popular these days, and the dedicated fishing kayaks have come a long way and have many of the same features as a 70,000 dollar walleye rig. 

If you can’t afford any watercraft, there is nothing wrong with shore fishing, and many anglers have caught some world-class trophy fish simply by casting from shore. 

Plus, if we stick to our rule from earlier and you’re just starting out, you want to keep things affordable and easy on the wallet.

Once you find out that fishing is really something you enjoy, you can pick up an old 14-foot aluminum boat with an old 25 horsepower johnson for 1500-2000 dollars, and fish nearly anywhere from big lakes to small rivers, and in time you may get good enough to put to shame that angler with the best gear in a 70,000 dollar boat with skill alone. 

Final Thoughts 

Get yourself a couple of rod and reel combos, a handful of lures, and get out and fish. You don’t need ten top-of-the-line rods and reels, and you don’t need every color of the latest and greatest crankbait.

Don’t lose sight of the parts of fishing you enjoy by seeing other anglers with the shiny gear and boats. Just catch fish. We hope you found this guide on how to start a fishing hobby useful.

Happy Hunting!

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