For many people (myself included) camping and fishing go hand in hand. My fishing gear is one of the first things I make sure to pack for any camping trip and I (almost) always plan camping trips for areas near great places to fish.
However, if you’ve never been fishing before, you may be intimidated by getting started. Luckily, it’s much easier than you may think. Fishing is also a great activity to add excitement to your camping trip and to get the kids involved in a new hobby. On top of all that, fishing can be a great way to relax and spend some quality alone time while on a solo camping trip.
Assuming that you’re starting from scratch but want to add fishing to your next camping trip, you’re going to need some basic gear. There are many different models and types of fishing reels and rods, but the best place to start for a beginner is a spincast reel. And you’ll never go wrong with a spincast combo. A spincast reel is by far the easiest to learn how to use and the most novice-friendly type of fishing reel. You simply press and hold down the button, cast the fishing pole towards the water, and release the button once your bait hits the water. There is almost no risk of tangling your line or any other frustrating mishaps.
Plus, if you’re planning to fish alongside some younger campers, spincast combos are available in kid friendly designs often featuring their favorite cartoon characters. The bright colors and characters definitely help to get kids excited for fishing!
In addition to a new rod and reel, you’ll also need some basic tackle. Tackle is the collective term for the other gear necessary for fishing. Things like hooks, sinkers, and bobbers are all considered “tackle.” You won’t need much to get started (some hooks, bobbers, small splitshot, and perhaps a net), but don’t be surprised if you quickly have a full tackle box.
The most basic setup that’s best for beginners and the one that I would recommend is a standard bobber rig.
A bobber rig is simply a float (or bobber) clipped onto your fishing line about twelve inches above your hook [Insert required warning about being careful with sharp hooks here]. This type of rig is great for beginners and the species of fish that are most easily caught. If you’re fishing with kids, they are quickly going to get bored if no fish tugs on their line and causing their bobber to dunk beneath the surface. However, the excitement of catching just one fish (even a small one) is going to keep kids excited to stick with it.
The best species of fish to target for beginners of any age are definitely bluegill. Bluegill are found in high numbers in just about every pond or lake that you might camp near, are generally easy to catch, and are actually quite tasty. If you’ve read my article on camping recipes, then you know that I’m a big fan of cooking your catch. However, if that seems too intimidating for your first few times fishing, don’t sweat it. There’s plenty of time for that later once you can’t get enough fishing!
Bluegill usually gather in shallow water near the shore and things like piers and docks. This makes them easy to target for new anglers young and old. Bluegill are not picky about what they eat so you have plenty of options for bait. Of course, the earthworm is a good old standard kind of bait and they won’t steer you wrong, but not everyone is a big fan of the creepy crawly parts of nature. If that describes you, there are a lot of other options to lure a fish. Bits of marshmallow (a necessary part of any camping trip anyways), canned sweet corn, and even pieces of white bread (although they won’t stay on the hook for too long) will all help you land a fish.
The last piece of advice that I’ll leave you with is to be patient and have fun while fishing. It isn’t about catching the most fish or the biggest fish (an important lesson to impart on the kids). Fishing is all about enjoying nature and having fun with your loved ones if you’re fishing with them. Fully expect to get your line tangled in a tree or run out of bait. But also expect to catch some fish and have a lot of fun, not to mention find a potential new hobby that you can enjoy while camping for a lifetime.
Test out your fishing skills at one of KOA’s great locations!