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    Fishing 101: How to Catch Your First Fish

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    By Kenneth Reaves

    Meta: Planning on taking a fishing trip in the near future? Here’s a quick guide to how to catch your first fish, from picking gear to getting that first bite.  

    If you live by the ocean and you’ve never fished before, you’re missing out! Not only is it an exciting pursuit, but being out on the water in the fresh air with a goal can be surprisingly good for one’s physical and mental health. 

    If this sounds like something you’d like to do, here’s how to catch your first fish! 

    Choose Your Type 

    Not all saltwater fishing is the same. You can fish from almost anywhere as long as your bait lands in the ocean! Here are the most common types of saltwater fishing. 

    • Surf Fishing 

    You don’t need to be in the middle of the ocean to fish. Surf fishing is the most accessible type of saltwater fishing for everyone. All you need is good equipment and a beach! You’ll either fish from the beach or wade into the surf. 

    • Pier Fishing 

    Pier fishing is a little less active than surf fishing, which makes it great for beginners. As the name suggests, you’ll cast your line off a pier into the sea. 

    • Charter Fishing 

    If adrenaline is your thing, a charter fishing trip could be for you! You’ll head out into the middle of the ocean and have a chance of catching a gigantic sea creature on your line. Interested? Check out Ventura Harbor Sportfishing or Channel Islands Sportfishing

    Use the Right Gear 

    Saltwater fishing needs saltwater gear. It also depends on where you’re fishing from. Choosing the right stuff can make your fishing more effective and safer. 

    • Rod and Reels 

    Choose your saltwater rod carefully. If you’re likely to be fishing from the shore, a longer rod is best (12 to 15 feet). For pier fishing, a 6 to 9 foot rod is sufficient. A 20 to 25-pound line should be fine. 

    If you’re going on a charter trip, you’ll most likely be provided with an appropriate rod and line for the fish you’re targeting. 

    • Tools & Clothing 

    A net is a good idea to bring those fish in to shore. A hook remover is a super handy tool that is helpful for both you and the fish. Pliers and scissors are essential. 

    Make sure you dress for the weather. Waders are necessary if you’re in the surf. Layer up in the cold, and don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen if it’s warm. 

    Go Fish! 

    Once you’re kitted out, here’s what you need to know to catch your first fish. 

    • Learn to Cast 

    Practice your casting, either in a wide open space or in the surf before you load up your bait and cast for real. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. 

    • Pick Your Bait 

    Do some research on fish in the area and what they eat. From there, you can pick the bait that’s most likely to get bites. Learn how to bait your hook! 

    • Follow Through! 

    When you get the bite, fight that fish! Fishing is an active sport, so expect to get a workout. Fishing can get much more complicated, but when that fish is on your hook, it’s all the same – reel it in! 


    Now that you know how to catch your first fish, what’s stopping you? Regular fishing trips can boost your mood, improve your immune system, and become an enjoyable hobby. 

    It’s an excellent way to have some alone time, but why not share the fishing joy with your family or a friend? It’s for everyone! 


    Kenneth Reaves is a professional angler who has more than two decades’ experience fishing competitively. He gets out on the water every chance he gets, and shares his fishing knowledge over at Perfect Captain.

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