Freshwater Fishing: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

You can catch freshwater fish in ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers because they are both man-made and naturally originating. There are still some kinds of fishes that can live as a transition from saltwater to freshwater. People can do freshwater fishing in every continent across the globe.

When using a boat for your fishing in the freshwater, you can reach the depths and areas that you can’t do from shore.

We often find and catch freshwater fishes to keep and bring beauty and color to our home. Also, freshwater fishes have many benefits to our health such as reducing stress, relaxing and decreasing our blood pressure and heart rate.

In this article, we shall take a look at the location of freshwater fishes, species, techniques of freshwater fishing and related stories of this type of fish.

Firstly, let’s explore where freshwater fishes often live

Many species of fishes that reproduce in freshwater spend most of their adult times in the sea. These types are known as anatropous fish, for instance, salmon, sea lamprey, trout, and finally three-spined stickleback.

On the contrary, some other kinds of fish are born in saltwater, but they live most of their adult lives in freshwater such as the eels.

Species migrating between marine and fresh waters need adaptations for both environments. For example, when in salt water they need to maintain the bodily salt concentration on a level lower than that of the surroundings and vice versa.

Many species solve this problem by dealing with different habitats and different stages of life. Both eels and the sea lamprey have a capacity of different tolerances in salinity to adapt to different stages of their lives.

Among fishers, freshwater fish species are often classified by the water temperature base on where they survive. The water temperature also defines the amount of oxygen available because cold water contains more oxygen than warm water.


Coldwater fish species can survive in the deep cold temperatures, even in the water temperature of 50 to 60 °F (10–16 °C). In North America, for details, air temperatures can result in very cold water temperatures in the northern, the southern United States and Canada at high elevation.


Warmwater fish species can well adapt themselves in a wide range of conditions, preferring at the water temperature around 80 °F (27 °C). They can live in cold winters in northern climates and thrive in warmer water.

Common warm water fishes are catfish, bluegill, even largemouth bass, crappies, and many other species routed from the Centrarchidae family.

bluegill fish


These species of fishes prefer water temperature between the warm water and cold water which is around 60 to 80 °F (16–27 °C).

People can find them throughout North America excluding the southern portions of the United States. Some popular cool water species are yellow perch, muskellunge, walleye, and northern pike.

After defining types of freshwater fishes, let’s discover techniques to go freshwater fishing.

What are the best techniques for freshwater fishing? Let’s follow our tips and tricks

Fishing techniques must carefully differ with fishing tackles. Fishing tackles are known as the physical equipment used for fishing, whereas fishing techniques refer to the means that the tackles are used for fishing.

Before catching fishes, you must locate them. It should be within an hour from your home, or you should find a location with the body of water which is large enough for food, oxygen provision. Furthermore, if you have a boat, you might even choose larger locations.

Where fish could be and why?

We might know that not all fish can survive in the same kinds of waters. Because different species need corresponding environmental conditions, including shelter areas, cover, structure, and the bottom.

There are some factors determining the quality of the living environment of freshwater fishes:

  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Water temperature
  • Types and amounts of food
  • Current
  • Water depth
  • Structure of the environment

The term “structure” refers to changes in the aspects of the bottom of the ponds, rivers, and lakes caused by rocks, humps, man-made cribs, ledges, and downed trees. These aspects cause fish to gather in certain areas.

Docks, logs, brush, rock piles, downed trees in the lakes and ponds can provide shelter, hiding, shade and protection for freshwater fishes. Therefore, ponds, lakes, rivers, and even streams or islands can provide us good places for freshwater fishing.

Dissolved Oxygen

Fish also need a certain amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. Species such as carp can survive on less oxygen than trout. Besides, living plants add oxygen to the water when moving water tumbling over rocks.

Decaying plants and animals use oxygen availability from the water and pollution sources can also reduce oxygen levels. Thus, you should find locations which are cool and wide without pollution sources for freshwater fishing.


Each species of fish has a specific range of water temperature that they enjoy. For example, bullhead catfish can grow and flourish in waters at the warm water of 85 degrees F.  Salmon and lake trout prefer cooler water.

Some freshwater fishes tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It’s necessary for you to find a useful thermometer to catch specific kinds of fish.


The types and quantity of food in the body of water play the important role in determining which kinds of fish you desire to catch.

How to choose the Method or tackles for freshwater fishing?

When you find the fish, manage to lead them to bite your hook. This might be your most challenging task. Different types of fishing lends can lead to various kinds of fishes. Knowing the approach and their habitats can help you to have a successful day of fishing.

The Benefits of Using a Boat

When using a boat, you can cover larger areas than sitting to fishing from shore and even get deeper water level. Different types of boats such as skiffs, canoes, and jon boats can become ideal for common fishing on streams, rivers, and lakes.

freshwater fishing boat

The benefit of trolling

Trolling is very effective for small fish species. Downriggers can control the depth of the lure because they use winches and weight (cannonball) to lure and carry the line to reach the shelter of fishes.

Some downriggers can deepen into 200 feet depth and keep running at that depth of the freshwater.

The benefits of flipping and pitching

Flipping and pitching are techniques used with spinnerbaits. These methods have a lot of benefits to get lure for your fishes.

It releases an amount of line of about 10 feet to lower and raise the rod. The 5.5-foot rods are used to flip the docks, grass, and wood or another cover which require quite presentations and pinpoint accuracy.

The Best Times to Fish

Fishing in between a new moon and a full moon times for optimal effectiveness.

Freshwater fish have affected the gravitational pull of the moon, which are the same as all animals. Some fishes have peak catching times basing on the moon phases, for example, the full moon.

Fish around the sunrise and the sunset to utilize the feeding time.

Fishes tend to be very active around sunrise and sunset. At that time, they primarily feed. They also are less active when it’s hot, particularly in the summer.

Choose shallow waters when you go for freshwater fishing in the spring.

In the spring, the shallow waters may warm up, and this condition provides many attractive places for fish to swim and eat

Choose the middle of the lake at the summertime.

As we know, in the summertime, the water temperature is so hot all around; freshwater fishes enjoy the deep water in the middle of the lakes and ponds. Thus, you can cast the fishing line to deepen into the lake and river to catch more fishes.

Choose different spots when you go fishing in the fall.

Freshwater fishing might be more difficult in the fall than other seasons. At this season, the water temperature fluctuates continuously and forces them to move by the time. Thus, you should try to fish in different spots when you are fishing in the fall.

How to choose the fishing tools for freshwater fishing?

Freshwater fishing is popular because it requires a simple tackle setup. Thus, you can fish from lakes, rivers, ponds, and even oceans.

Before going fishing, you should check the weather and fishing tools such as line, gear, rod and cast. Let’s study how to choose the best ones as follows.

Select your gear

For small fish catching, you should use a rod of about 4-5 feet. The rods should be made of fiberglass or graphite. Bluegill, trout, and bass might be caught by smaller rods.

Longer rods of about 5-8.5 feet may be suited to catch larger species thanks to the extended length. This design helps balance the length and weight of the fishes. The material of rod, for example, fiberglass or graphite, can provide your rods flexibility.

Above lengths are often used by most beginners because of the popularity and standard size of fishing rod.

Choose the rod made by carbon fiber for the best flexibility

freshwater fishing rod

Select the bait-casting reel for luring fishes

In case you do not have a boat, you have to manage to lures fishes from a long distance.

Your luring might be from the shore of the pond, lake or stream to the center or down along these locations. Thus, you should prepare larger lures to catch larger and heavier fishes.

Select the open or closed-bail spinning reel

When you use lighter lures, you should use the open or closed bail spinning reel. They are easy for you to use because they can help the crank handle against rotating when the fish is pulling.

This kind of spinning reel has a mechanical pickup designed to retrieve the line and have the anti-reverse lever

Select the hook

The size of the fish you want to catch shall decide your hook. The fishing hook can catch fish from 1 pound to 32 pounds. There are three basic types of hooks which are fly-cast, baitcast, and spincast.

Small fishes need the small hook; large fishes need the large hook. The determining the hook types shall be based on different types of fish as well as fishing methods.

Select the live or artificial bait

Firstly, you should now that live baits are worms, crickets, leeches or minnows whereas artificial bait imitates the taste of natural food. The artificial baits can be in the form of spoons, flies, and poppers.

Select the line

The line now comes in many different sizes and weight based on strength. The strength of the fishing line is measured in pounds (lbs). A test shall be put on the fishing line as a test before it breaks. The strength can be from 8 to 12 pounds or 15 to 40 pounds.

Besides, you also need to determine your target species. If your target species are big ones, you shall have to use high strength lines with more weight than usual.

Final thought

Freshwater fishing is not merely the using of throwing the line and wait; it’s the “art,” do you agree? Hope that you can find useful instructions of techniques and tools in the article.

Above tips are some ways to make your fishing more effective, wish you can find the fishing easier and more relaxing!

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