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A beginner’s guide to fishing

A beginner’s guide to fishing

16 July 2020

A whopping 22 percent of us have taken up a new hobby during lockdown. So, if fishing is what you opted for, from all of us at Harris Sportsmail - ‘Welcome’, you have made a great choice!

The survey conducted by The Healthy Work Company, also found that 35 percent of us have been rediscovering old hobbies. So maybe you are reading this as a refresher. No bother, we are here to talk you through the basics and get you up to scratch.

The Boring Bit

We’d be lying if we said there was nothing dull about fishing, so here it is…

Fishing Rules and Regulations

In order to fish in England or Wales you must obtain a licence. (Be sure to check your local regulations for Scotland, Northern Ireland or anywhere else in the world.) The good news is these cost as little as £6 for a day and start at £30 for a year. Fishing without a licence can result in a fine of up to £2,500.

Fishing Licence

You can purchase a fishing licence online or from your local post office, and you must take your licence along with you on any trip. The good news is that following the COVID-19 lockdown period, waters are now reopening for fishing. That said, be sure to check for up-to-date government guidance, limit contact with others, and maintain social distancing from fellow anglers.

Permission to Fish

Next, you must know that all waters are not created equal. Depending on where you go and who owns the waters, you may need to pay for permission to fish there, buy a day ticket or even be a club member. Luckily, this handy fishing waters tool allows you to search by postcode and will tell you all you need to know. It may even reveal some hidden gems right on your doorstep!

Fishing or Angling?

Now let’s talk types of fishing, and demystify some of the jargon.

Angling is a form of fishing. It generally refers to fishing as a sport or for recreation, that which uses a rod, line and hook (angle). Similarly, an ‘Angler’ is someone who fishes as a sport, as opposed to for food or commercial purposes. Angling tends to be on fresh water.

Fresh water fishing, sometimes called coarse water, is fishing that happens anywhere but the sea. Be it rivers, streams, canals, lakes, pools or ponds. Game fishing is another term used for this; however, it tends to refer to fishing to catch fish as food. Sea fishing, as the term suggests is fishing at sea, and also tends to be catching for consumption.

Carp fishing is a very popular choice in the UK. Carp fish are widespread, high in numbers - in part due to (arguably) not being the tastiest of fish, so are fished more often as a sport not as food. Best of all, carp grow to large sizes, making them a fun catch.

Fly fishing is a fishing technique using a lightweight bait on the water’s surface. Lure fishing involves bait being pulled through the water in order to imitate a small fish or creature. Pole fishing is a basic form of fishing which uses just a pole and line - no reel.

Hopefully this quick run-through has helped clear some things up, but if you have any questions or queries when it comes to fishing terminology, do get in touch and chat with any of our experienced team members.

Basic Fishing Checklist

Needless to say, you will need some equipment before you head out, but fishing does not have to be an expensive hobby. Here’s what you will need:

The Bare Minimum

Handy to Have

  • Pliers to safely remove the hook from the fish's mouth
  • Tackle box to store your bait and hooks
  • Unhooking mat for putting fish onto (this prevents damaging the fish on the ground)
  • Practical footwear for being on the water’s edge - you never know when you might need to wade in
  • Rainwear - always a good idea in the UK!
  • Rod holder - these are great for stability, and handy if you’re fishing for hours
  • Chair - you’ll want to get comfy as you settle in for the day
  • Food & drink - as above

Additional Extras

  • Sinkers - these stabilise your line by adding weight to it
  • Bite indicators which float on the water and help you to quickly see when you have a bite
  • Landing net to help you to lift out heavier catches which could otherwise snap your line
  • Cooking equipment - packet food and packed lunches are all well and good, but cooking up a warm meal on a fishing trip is an unrivalled joy. As is a nice hot cuppa!
  • Torch - because it will be dusk before you know it
  • Scales - to weigh in your catch

Kit Upgrades

As with any new hobby, it is a good idea to start with some basic kit then get add-ons and upgrades as you get into it. This ensures you don’t invest too heavily in something that could turn out to be a passing fad. (Though we are confident fishing will have you hooked, excuse the pun!) As you delve deeper into the world of fishing there is all sorts of kit available on the market. From nifty gizmos such as alarm bite indicators through to sophisticated spool reels.

Take a Friend Fishing

There is no better time than the present to head to some quiet waters, take on/revisit this pursuit, and embrace all the fun fishing has to offer. Best of all, chances are you won’t be the only newbie on the water as there has been a surge of people taking up fishing as an outdoor activity. So, no need to feel judged as a rookie!

The Angling Trust are running their ‘Take a Friend Fishing’ campaign this month. Heading out with an experienced angler is the ultimate way to get introduced to the sport. If you have a friend, family member or acquaintance who is a keen angler then don’t wait for them to invite you; be bold and ask if you can come along to learn. A shared interest is a great thing to bond over, and they probably even have some spare kit you can use initially.

Finally, if you have any questions, want advice on starting out, or basic kit recommendations, then drop our in-house experts a message on Facebook and we will be happy to help.