Fishing For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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By Greg Schwipps with Peter Kaminsky

To catch fish consistently, anglers need to know some things about the fish they pursue and the habitat where those fish reside. A prepared angler is often a successful angler, so you can use a chart to help you decide what to bring on your next fishing trip. For more preparation, you should know common catches and their usual haunts. And in case you ever catch a whopper, you can compare it to the world record holders according to the International Game Fish Association.

woman fishing © Alexey Yudenkov /

Outfitting your fishing trip with the right equipment and clothing

No one checklist works for every fishing trip, as there are many variables to consider. Are you fishing saltwater or freshwater? What species are you fishing for? What’s the weather like? What season is it? Are you fishing from a boat or the bank?

This table is a broad list of things necessary for most trips, arranged in order from most to least crucial. Go through this list before each venture, skipping items that aren’t relevant for a particular trip. It should help you remember many of the items you need!

Fishing Equipment General Equipment Clothing
Rods/reels First-aid kit Life jacket
Tackle carrier containing all your terminal tackle, as well as
your lures and flies
Camera Foul-weather waterproof bag containing rainsuit, knit hat,
gloves, and dry socks)
Line clippers Meals and snacks Polarized sunglasses
Needlenose pliers Insect repellant Baseball cap
Towel (for drying hands after catching fish) Flashlight or headlamp Waterproof boots
Cooler containing bait (keep livebait cool and dry, and keep
minnows cool and wet)
Cooler containing (nonalcoholic) beverages Deck shoes
Landing net Thermos Gloves
Extra spool of line GPS unit or compass Waders or hip boots
Measuring tape Knife or multitool Fleece jacket
Castnet or seine if you plan to gather bait Lighter or matches in waterproof case Shirt – SPF fabric and longsleeved
Mouth spreader if you’re fishing for species with
Sunscreen Shirt – SPF fabric and shortsleeved
Weight scale Hand sanitizer Long underwear
Hand warmers Convertible pants (pants with zippered legs, making instant
Plastic bags Socks
25 feet of small-diameter rope
Seat, bucket, or cushion
Toilet paper

Matching up the fish, the water, and the offering

Almost every sizable body of water, providing it isn’t too polluted, will have some fish in it. Whether the fish have been stocked there, or appear through natural reproduction, there’s a good chance more than one species is present.

The following table lists a few common species of fish and provides typical habitats for them, as well as bait, lures, and flies that often trigger them to bite. Of course, these fish can be found in other habitats and will hit other offerings in addition to those listed.

Fish Water Offering
Freshwater Fish
Bluegill Ponds, lakes, and reservoirs Worms, crickets, and small spinners
Largemouth bass Ponds, lakes, and reservoirs Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and soft plastics
Smallmouth bass Streams and rivers Jigs, crankbaits, and topwaters
Channel catfish Ponds, reservoirs, and rivers Nightcrawlers and cutbait
Crappie Ponds, reservoirs, and lakes Minnows, spinners, and jigs
Northern pike Cooler lakes and rivers Spoons, crankbaits, and spinners
Rainbow trout Cooler streams and deep lakes Flies and spinners
Walleye Cooler rivers and lakes Jigs, crankbaits, and nightcrawlers
Saltwater Fish
Summer flounder Bays, harbors, and estuaries Jigs, shrimp, and cutbait
Red drum Shallow bays, flats, and estuaries Crankbaits, jigs, and cutbait
Weakfish Shallow bays and marshes Shrimp, jigs, and spoons
Bluefish Bays, warm estuaries, and beaches Spoons, crankbaits, and jigs
Snook Warm lagoons, mangrove swamps, and estuaries Crankbaits, livebait, and topwaters
Tarpon Estuaries and mangrove bays Livebait, spoons, and crankbaits
Yellowtail snapper Coral reefs Cutbait and squid
Goliath grouper Rocky ledges, reefs, and wrecks Livebait, cutbait, and squid

Matching your fishing rod, lure, and line

Your fishing rod has a limit to how much weight it can lift and cast effectively. This is called the “power” of the rod. Anglers can use this chart as a guide to match up the right rod, lure weight, and line size for the right balance.

Rod Power Lure Weight Line Size
Ultralight 1–4 lb test 1/64–1/16 oz
Light 4–8 lb test 1/16–1/4 oz
Medium Light 6–10 lb test 1/4–1/2 oz
Medium 8–12 lb test 1/2–1 oz
Medium Heavy 12–25 lb test 1–4 oz
Heavy 20–40 lb test 4–8 oz
Extra Heavy 25 lb test and above 8 oz and above

Keeping up with fishing world records

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) keeps track of world record catches for almost every species of fish you can think of. Do you think you just hauled in the next record catch? It could happen! If your fish beats the current record, get it registered at the nearest tackle shop. Then wait for those endorsements to come piling in.

Fish Weight Where and When It Was Caught
Bluefish 31 lb 12 oz Hatteras, North Carolina; January 30, 1972
Brown Trout 42 lb 1 oz Oahu Canal, New Zealand; July 27, 2013
Largemouth Bass 22 lb 4 oz Tied:
Montgomery Lake, Georgia; June 2, 1932
Lake Biwa, Shiga, Japan; July 2, 2009
Blue Catfish 143 lb. Kerr Lake, Buggs Island, Virginia; June 18, 2011
Northern Pike 55 lb 1 oz Lake of Grefeern, Germany; October 16, 1986
Bluegill 4 lb 12 oz Ketona Lake, Alabama; April 9, 1950
Tarpon 286 lb 9 oz Rubane, Guinea-Bissau; March 20, 2003
Walleye 25 lb Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee; April 1, 1960
Weakfish 19 lb 12 oz Staten Island, New York; May 7, 2008

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Greg Schwipps, a creative writing professor and novelist, has been fishing for more than 40 years. His fishing articles have appeared in publications such as In-Fisherman, and his recent work focuses on introducing kids to the outdoors. Peter Kaminsky's Outdoors column has appeared for many years in the New York Times. His books on fly fishing include The Moon Pulled Up An Acre of Bass, American Waters, and The Flyfisherman's Guide To The Meaning of Life. His fishing writing has appeared in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Flyfisherman, Anglers Journal, New York Magazine, and GQ. He is the former managing editor of National Lampoon.

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