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Fishing for Beginners FAQ

Looking for answers to your questions about fishing for beginners? This section includes basic information about the kind of fishing rod to buy, where to fish, what to use for bait, and how to get a fishing license. Learn how to get started fishing here.

Beginner Fishing FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

If you are getting ready to go fishing for the first time, it only makes sense that you will have some questions about how to get started. Use this beginner fishing FAQ to help you prepare for your very first fishing adventures.

Fishing Access: Where to Go

  • Do I need a boat to go fishing? No, you don't. While a boat can certainly help you cover more water and get to the best fishing spots, there are plenty of places where you can fish from a shoreline, bridge, or public pier if you are just starting out.
  • Will I have to travel far from where I live to find a good fishing spot? No, you can use resources such as the places to fish map to find a fishing spot within just a few miles of where you live.
  • Is fishing allowed at all public parks? No, if you have plans to visit a local, state, or national public park, always check the park's website or call the park in advance to make sure fishing is permitted. Be sure to abide by any signs that indicate fishing is not allowed.

Fishing Licenses & Associated Fishing Costs

  • Do I need a fishing license to fish? Yes, always check with your state fish and wildlife agency on fishing license requirements. Buying a fishing license online is quick and easy. Unless your state offers free fishing day events and you plan to fish on those days, you will need a fishing license. Depending on where you are fishing and if you plan to keep the fish you catch, you may also need additional licenses or permits.
  • How much does fishing cost if I am just starting out? Just as with any other sport, you can find fishing gear available at all price ranges. From as little as $20 to $30 for a pre-rigged spincast rod and reel for beginners who plan to go freshwater fishing to hundreds of dollars for heavy duty offshore saltwater fishing rods and reels. There is a fishing gear set-up for every budget, and you can get started at very little cost.

Fishing Gear & Tackle Information

  • What type of rod and reel should I buy if I am just starting out? The type of rod and reel that is best will depend on the type of fishing you plan to do, but generally most anglers start out with a spinning rod and reel combo or spincast rod and reel combo. Check the fishing gear section for more specific information.
  • What type of tackle and bait do I need? The tackle and bait you use will depend on the type of fishing you plan to do (freshwater or saltwater), and the species of fish you want to catch. For freshwater panfishing, as an example, you can start out using a worm rigged onto a size 8 hook that is tied onto 4 to 6-pound test monofilament line.

Which Fish Species to Catch

  • Which species of fish are good for beginners to catch? Bluegill, redear sunfish, yellow perch, rainbow trout are a few popular freshwater fish species for beginners to catch. These species are commonly found and are generally very willing biters.
  • Is it safe to eat the fish I catch? How do I know? First, always check the state fishing regulations to make sure that you can legally keep any fish you catch (that they meet the size requirements and open season requirements). Second, check to be sure there are no consumption advisories for the fish you plan to keep. Consumption advisories may indicate that you should avoid or limit the amount of certain species or fish caught in particular waterways, but in many cases, you can bring home a legal catch to cook for a meal.

When it comes to learning more about fishing for beginners, these are some of the most frequently asked questions. Although, it's perfectly understandable if you have additional questions once you get out on the water. You can find more how-to information that will help you prepare for future trips by checking the sections that cover specific topics.