When you cast a lure into the deep, you never know what you might catch. Fishing is full of surprises, which is one reason many people like it. If you’ve always wanted to fish, but don’t know how, let Xplor be your guide. We’ll cover the basics of fishing at a pond or lake, so the only surprise you’ll encounter is the size of the lunker on the end of your line.
Fishing doesn’t have many rules, but it does have a few, and it’s your responsibility to follow them. Get the lowdown on permits, length limits, and other rules by picking up A Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations. This free booklet is available at Conservation Department offices, bait shops, and online at mdc.mo.gov/fishing/regulations.
It’s possible to catch fish with a stick, some string, and a safety pin. But fishing is easier and more fun with the right gear. Here’s what you need.
With practice, casting will become second nature. Until then, follow these steps.
The improved clinch knot is strong and easy to tie, even with wet fingers.
If the lure flies up in the air and doesn’t go far, you took your thumb off the button too early. If the lure smacks the ground at your feet, you released the button too late.
When it comes to bait, a wiggly earthworm is tough to beat. But if threading a slimy worm onto a hook grosses you out, give these other baits and lures a try.
Catfish hunt mostly by smell, so lures usually don’t work.
How you tie bait, bobbers, and weights on your line depends on what kind of fish you want to catch. Catfish hunt near the bottom, so add weight to keep your bait deep. Bluegill and bass often swim a few feet beneath the surface, so use a bobber to suspend your bait where fish can find it. Most artificial lures don’t require bobbers or weights. Simply tie on a lure and reel it in to get a strike.
You’ve practiced casting, rigged your line, and found a fishing hole.
Fish use cover such as weeds, docks, rocks, and stumps to escape predators or as hiding places to ambush prey. Fish can also be found at the edges between different kinds of habitat. Cast your lure along a weed line, for example, and you’ll often get a bite.
Sometimes it takes a while for a fish to find your bait. Be patient and don’t take your eyes off your bobber! If you see the bobber jiggle, a fish is nibbling on the bait. If you see the bobber sink suddenly, set the hook.
When you suspect a bite, quickly sweep the tip of the rod upward to set the hook. Always keep loose line reeled up. Trying to hook a fish with slack in the line usually leads to a missed fish.
Keep the tip of the rod high, so the fish stays hooked. Reel in the line to pull the fish closer, but don’t jerk the rod or pull too hard. That could snap the line or injure the fish. When the fish is close enough, slip a net under it or reach down and grab it.
Bass, bluegill, and catfish don’t have sharp teeth, but they do have pokey fins. Hold a bass or a small catfish by putting your thumb into the fish’s mouth and pinching its lower lip. Hold a bluegill by sliding your hand from the head over the fish’s back to push and hold down the fins. The fish will likely squirm, so hold it firmly but don’t squeeze too hard. Use needle-nosed pliers to back the hook out of the same hole it went in.
Cast your browser at these websites to broaden your fishing know-how.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill