Fish ‘n’ tips

Have you ever considered fishing or looking to try your hand at it? Fishing can be a source of food, a way to spend time with others, or even a peaceful way to enjoy nature. Today we’re sharing some tips and tricks to take with you on your outdoor fishing adventures.

Before you go, you will need a few things, including a license. Fishing licenses vary from state to state, and can also vary between species you’re fishing for and also between saltwater and freshwater. Be sure to check online for the type of license you need for your area. If you’re hesitant about buying a license and would like to try your hand at fishing first, find your state’s free fishing days where no license is required.

For most, the basic equipment includes a rod and reel, tackle, and bait. There are many tackle variations you can use to set up your rod, but a popular rig for kids includes a rod and reel combination (known as a spin-cast reel or a closed-face reel), with a hook, sinker, and a bobber tied to the end of the fishing line. With this method, ponds, lakes, and slow moving water work best. The bobber allows you to monitor any biting fish, with the sinker bringing your bait down to the fish below. Some kids and adults may prefer a spinning reel for more manual control over their line, casting further, and fishing in deeper water.

Fishing requires a strong knot to ensure the fish doesn’t swim away with your hook. Check out this strong and simple knot that’s favored by many anglers.

How to tie a strong knot. USFWS

When picking bait, you can never go wrong with a worm, especially if you’re just getting started. Worms are easy to put on a hook and naturally attract fish. Another popular method substitutes the hook and bait, sinker and bobber with a lure. The lure contains a hook and resembles a tasty snack. Using a lure may require more active casting and reeling to mimic a fish or insect moving through the water.

Part of the sport of fishing is figuring out what fishing setup works best for you, but your local bait and tackle store expert would be happy to help you get started. We can too, just shoot us a message!

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to find a fishing hole. This Service fishing guide shows you which national wildlife refuges are available for fishing. Other public fishing spots can be found on this map or by searching your local area.

Fishing at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS

Casting out your fishing line requires a little bit of practice and patience. Hold your rod in your dominant hand. In an open area away from people, release your line and toss it out into the water with a swing of the rod. For a closed-face reel, there is often a button you press as you swing the rod to release the line. For spinning reels, you need to release the line by opening the bail, hold the line with a finger, and release your finger as you swing. Always be mindful of where your hook is swinging to avoid injury or getting it caught in a tree.

Video by MassWildlife

Once you’ve casted, it’s time to catch a fish! If you notice your bobber plunge underwater, give the rod a firm tug and reel it in! Once you cast a time or two, you’ll begin to recognize how a fish feels as it nibbles on your line in comparison to the wind or water pulling on it. Optimize your fishing success by looking for areas fish may like. Some prefer cooler spaces under docks, near rocks, or around fallen trees. Read up on freshwater fish species and their habitat here.

Unhooking a fish can sometimes be a challenge. If you are unable to remove the hook with your hand, it’s useful to carry small pliers or a pocket knife. If you plan to keep your fish, know your area’s take-home limit and water quality. If not, release your fish gently, and make sure to dispose of all fishing gear properly. Abandoned hooks and fishing line are harmful to people and wildlife.

Keith Ramos/USFWS

Last but not least, stay safe. Most fishing can be safely done from shore, but if you fish from a boat, over deep water, or while wading, make sure everyone wears a personal flotation device. Bring a buddy who can help in an emergency, and don’t cast near others.

Did you catch a fish this summer? Let us know by sharing a photo with us on Facebook or Twitter @USFWSNortheast.

Buying a fishing license is quick, easy, and directly contributes towards conservation and restoration efforts. In 2018 alone, fishing license sales generated more than $700 million across the country.



We conserve nature in the northeast U.S. for the benefit of wildlife and the American people. Love your natural and wild places! Explore the world around you by hiking, fishing, hunting, and volunteering. More info at

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