Fishing has always been a part of my life. I have many memories of my dad waking me up in the middle of the night to take me to the lake to trout fish. He would wake all of us kids to tell us that he was going fishing. If you got up, you got to go. Usually I was the only one getting up. I loved fishing. There was something mystical about being out on the lake that early, the sun not yet peeking over the horizon and the forest just waking up. The crisp click of that Zebco push button spincaster. That anxious feeling waiting for that first nibble. Coming home to have fresh trout or catfish for breakfast. Those times fishing were some of the best times of my childhood.

These days I fish for food and I fish to relax. Sometimes my buddies will join me, other times it’s an opportunity to spend time by myself thinking or maybe even reading a book. As the old adage goes, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. But I do find that fishing is the time I can forget about everything and live in the moment. I can enjoy the flow of the river, watch the nesting raptors aggressively defend their nest from crows, see the river otters playing; I can immerse myself in nature. And that is where I am most at home. And often I am able to bring home fresh fish, sometimes enough for many meals. That’s an excellent reward!

Since there is a lot of detail to cover in getting started with fishing, this will be a multi-part series. If you’ve never fished before, or don’t have much success when you fish, I have a few tips to get you started. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars, I’ll teach you the basics, the bare minimum you’ll need to have success. You don’t need secret fishing spots. You’re going to find your own.

Getting Your Fishing License

1924 California Fishing License
1924 California Fishing License

First, you’ll need a license. Most states, like California, sell them online, which is the easiest way to obtain them in my personal opinion. They are also sold at Walmart and other big-box stores. If you have a local tackle or bait shop near you, you may be able to buy them there. Call first, as many do not. Definitely buy a one year license. This will give you motivation to go out more often and it is cheaper to buy a full year than multiple one or three day licenses. Also, if your state has them, buy a stamp for a second or multiple rods. It’s usually not much more and provides the opportunity to cover more water when still-fishing or fish for multiple species at the same time.

The Fishing Gear

Next you’ll need to gear up. This is where you spend some money. You’ll need the following gear for any type of fishing you’re going to do:

  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Tackle bag or box
  • Tackle
  • Lures and/or Bait
  • Cooler (have to bring your fish home cold)
  • Accessories (sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses, shoes, etc.)

We will discuss each of these points in detail. The next part of this series will detail how to choose your rod and reel, so stay tuned!




TJ is an avid outdoorsman, with a strong interest in conservation of all species and the preservation of our public lands.

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