Freshwater Fishing Tips

Fishing is a fun sport that requires some skill and timing. Depending on where you fish, your tactics will be different. Brackish or colder water may call for a certain style of fishing, while calm fresh water might need a different style. Regardless of the type of fish or water, there are some freshwater fishing tips that everyone should follow.

  • For lake and river fishing, go where the water turns from shallow to deep. Fish like to congregate and look for food in this area.
  • Shiny fishing lures can attract certain fish, but the reflection of the sun can blind them and cause confusion.
  • Use a matted metal fishing lure instead if possible, to avoid too much reflection.
  • Cast close to the shoreline for more bites.
  • Look for mossy areas, as fish prefer to swim in these areas to forage for food.
  • A lot of people use worms as bait, but locusts are also a great choice. Larger fish like bass really enjoy these insects.
  • Check the local fishing reports that day for updates on areas where they're biting.
  • Sunrise is an excellent time to fish, try to go out early in the morning.
  • Pay close attention to the movement of your line. Learn how to understand the difference between a curious fish and one that is biting so you can hook and reel it in.
  • Research the region you will be fishing in to find out what kinds of fish live there and the things they like.
  • Be patient. Patience really is the key to good fishing. Bring a book or radio if you plan to out for a long time and remember that all good things come to those who wait.

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Bass Fishing Tips

Bass fishing is a fun sport that can result in some large and exciting catches. There are many different opinions on what to do to catch the best bass, and how to go about it. The longer you participate in bass fishing, the more you will learn about which areas to go, what times to fish, and how to go about getting the best of the lot. Follow these simple bass fishing tips to help get you where you want to be.

  • Be sure to choose the right lure for the right situation. Not every time of day or area of water will require the same type of lure. Each lure has its own purpose, and is meant for different bass or different locations. It may take trial and error, but this is a very valuable lesson.
  • Get familiar with the waters you're fishing in. If you go to one specific location more than another, learn about which areas the bass tend to swim in, and find out which time of day they are most prevalent. Timing is everything when it comes to bass fishing.
  • Ask some experts or seasoned fishermen for advice. People who have been bass fishing for a long time will most likely have plenty of good advice to share.
  • Casting styles are important. It may take a bit of research, but find out which casting styles will work best for your particular fishing area. For example, fan casting works well for large ponds or lakes where there is not much interference, but this method may not work well in other situations.
  • Bait is very important. Plastic worms tend to do well, and most bass enjoy worms. Decide whether live bait or plastic works best, depending on your own personal preferences.
  • Learn about different species of bass. By learning about what kinds of bass live in the areas you fish in, as well as what they like and where they tend to hang out, you can get an insider's view of how to catch them.

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Fishing and Lake Maps

Good anglers understand that knowing how to read fishing and lake maps is indispensable both for catching the right fish and for finding large quantities of them. Fortunately, it’s easy to gain a basic knowledge of these maps – knowledge that will help even novice fishermen improve their skills and find the best places to fish.

A contour map is perhaps the most useful. It helps determine the depth of the water, which is invaluable information because fish are found at certain depths depending on the species and time of year. Basically, the lines on the contour map all represent a certain depth, which anglers can use to their advantage if they know what depth the fish tend to gather in each season.

After reading a contour map or any of the other fishing and lake maps, anglers should visit the areas they believe hold fish to do some in-person "fact finding." The map will likely indicate many areas with the right depth for fish. Only a site visit can tell you which of those places to fish areas is actually home to a good number of fish.

Local bait and tackle shops can be great places to find maps that pertain to the lake or other waterway closest to the shop.

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Freshwater Fish Temperature Chart

There are regional differences and acclimatization differences in the temperature ranges for fish species. This is a general guideline for most areas and most times of the year.


Species Lower Avoidance Optimum Upper Avoidance
American Shad 60 66 85
Atlantic Salmon 45 62 na
Atlantic Sturgeon 56 66 70
Black Crappie 60 70 75
Bluegills 58 70 75
Brook Trout 44 58 70
Brown Bullhead 65 74 85
Brown Trout 44 56-66 75
Burbot   52  
Carp 75 84 88
Pickerel 60 66 74
Channel Catfish 55 82-89 90+
Chinook Salmon 44 54 60
Chum Salmon   57  
Coho Salmon 44 54 60
Flathead Catfish 81 85 90
Freshwater Drum   74  
Grass Pickerel   78  
Grayling     65
Green Sunfish 73 87 91
Kamloops Trout 46 47-55 60
Kokanee   52-55  
Lake Trout 42 50-57 60
Landlocked Atlantic Salmon 42 50-58 65
Largemouth Bass 50 65-75 85
Longnose Gar   92  
Muskellunge 55 63 72
Northern Pike 56 63 74
Pink Salmon   50  
Pumkinseed   81  
Rainbow Trout 44 61 75
Rock Bass   70  
Shortnose Gar 81 87 94
Smallmouth Bass 60 65-68 73
Sockeye Salmon   55  
Spotted Bass 71 75 80
Steelhead Trout 38 48-52 60
Sunfish 50 58 68
Tench     80
Walleye 50 67 76
White Bass 62 70 78
White Crappie   61  
White Perch   89  
Yellow Bass   81  
Yellow Perch 58 68 75

Figure-Eight Retrieve for Muskies

The musky carries a fearsome reputation for fickleness. But Jim Saric, editor of Musky Hunter magazine (muskyhunter.Com) and host of The Musky Hunter on TV, gives some excellent freshwater fishing tips and says the way to overcome this tendency is to finish every retrieve with the figure eight.

  • Cast and retrieve as usual, until there’s 18 inches of line between the lure and the rod tip.
  • Dip the rod tip six inches into the water.
  • Draw a complete figure eight. The directional change can incite a reluctant muskie to strike.
  • Keep in mind a monster muskie can come from behind you. You won’t see the fish until it strikes.

"Muskies, like pike, will follow a lure, but they’re not nearly as aggressive," Saric says. Essentially, the figure eight is a final enticement performed by the angler just before lifting the lure out of the water for another cast. To help visualize the concept, think of a roller coaster. As you move the lure from side to side, it also moves up and down. That 3-D action can really turn on a fish.

"You don’t want a lot of line out because you’ll lose control of the lure," Saric says. "Also, be sure to maintain lure speed throughout the maneuver. If you slow down as you make a turn, the blade will stop turning and a fish will lose interest." Saric emphasizes that you should perform the figure eight on each cast. It needs to become routine so you do it properly every time.

"I’ve seen fish wiggle their tails and flare their gills near the boat, and you can’t help but think Here it comes!" he says. "And what happens is an angler may stop to look at the fish." Big mistake, as the loss of lure action causes the muskie to turn away.

Try to set the hook across the face of the fish so that it rests securely in the jaw. "The basic idea is to initiate the fight close to the boat to maintain more control over the fish." But, Saric notes, "Big muskies will do what they do." Which is why we’re there in the first place.


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Fish Hard to Reach Spots with Side Casts

Indiana-based Total Outdoorsman Challenger Dennis Billingsley who likes to hit the local bass ponds in early spring, has shared some of his best bass fishing tips. His preferred rod is a fairly typical bass setup: a heavyweight rod matched to a baitcasting reel. But he uses an unorthodox cast. A right-hander, he casts across his body, sidearm-style. "It gives me more control," he says. "A regular cast is too powerful for the soft presentations I want with my Carolina-rigged plastic worm."

Learning the sidearm cast adds a useful skill to your casting toolbox. Moving the rod parallel to the water’s surface helps the line and lure clear obstacles like overhanging tree limbs and bankside brush. This is key when the fish hang tight to the bank. If you can’t cast this way, you’ll pass up truly productive water. It’s also useful when the wind kicks up.

Sidearm: It’s not hard to master. Consider it the overhand cast shifted 45 degrees to the side. The tough part is getting the timing down, but some practice in the backyard can take care of that. "You may find your line-release timing is a bit off at first, but stick with it," Billingsley says.

Cross-body: "The cross-body presentation is essentially a lob. You’ll lose speed as well as some accuracy. This is not for when you need to throw a lot of line, but with a slower delivery you’ll get a much softer presentation. And the bass, at least the ones where I fish, really seem to prefer that."

Eight Additional Items You Need in Your Fishing Tackle Box

You can never have enough lures. But that's not all you'll need on the water. Pack these eight items in your fishing tackle box to make your trip more productive.



  1. Flashlight: It's handy whenever you're out after dark, essential if you're stranded and have to signal for help.
  3. First-Aid Supplies: Don't let a minor injury ruin your day. If you hook your hand, for example, some simple supplies will let you take care of the problem on the water—and keep fishing.
  4. Spare Treble Hooks: Hooks often become dull or damaged when worked over rocks and gravel.
  5. Spare Rod Tips: If you've never snapped off a rod tip, you will.
  6. Glue Stick and Lighter: Use these to affix a new rod tip. Heat the glue stick with the lighter, apply the glue, then slide on the new tip.


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