Fishing is really quite simple. All you need to catch the fish listed in this guide is a rod and reel, lures, hooks, a bobber or two, weights and a container for bait. Besides equipment, you’ll also need to learn a bit about where fish live, what they eat and how they feed-vital information that follows.
Rod and Reel
Most fish species can be caught with just one rod: a lightweight 6-foot spinning rod, equipped with a spinning reel capable of holding 150 yards of 4-8 pound test fishing line. If you go after the big fish, such as muskie, chinook salmon, sturgeon or flathead catfish, you’ll want to use a stouter rod (spinning or a bait casting) with a reel that can hold 200 yards of 10-20 pound test line.
Young kids should use a short rod with a closed faced reel.
The fishing line is the weakest link between you and the fish, so pay special attention to it. For most of the fishing in Minnesota use 6 pound test line. Occasionally you’ll want to use 4 pound test line for trout or 12 pound test line for big fish.
Buy top quality line and replace it at least once a year. Don’t use swivels. Instead, tie the line directly to the lure or hook, unless you are fishing for the sharp-toothed northern pike or muskie, when you’ll want to use a steel leader. As you fish, occasionally check the end of the line for nicks and abrasions, especially after snagging up. If the line is damaged, cut off 3 feet and retie your lure to the new end. (Fishing line left in the water or on the bank can entangle and kill wildlife. Please dispose of it properly.
Hooks come in many different shapes and sizes. They are sized by an even-number system (10, 8, 6, etc.) The smaller the number, the larger the hook. The hook shank (the long part between the eye and the bend) can be long, regular or short. Most fishing situations call for a regular hook. Long hooks are easier to remove from fish that have small mouths, like panfish.
Often you’ll need weight on your line to help cast farther or to keep the bait on or near the bottom. The most common fishing weight is split shot (a lead ball that can be pinched onto the line). Another type of weight is the slip sinker. These tubes or balls of lead have a hole down the middle through which the line can slide so the fish feels little resistance when taking the bait.
Bobbers come in many shapes and colors. For most situations, a long thin bobber is best because it offers the least resistance as a fish pulls it under.
The trick to successful bait fishing is keeping your bait lively. Minnows should have a constant supply of fresh water, so keep them in a floating bait bucket, with holes to let water flow through. Worms and leeches must be kept cool and moist, so keep them in your cooler. Never leave them in the sun.
Lures fall into four basic categories: spoons, spinners, jigs, and crankbaits (also called plugs). Spoons are one of the oldest types of lures. Made of metal, they are shaped like the end of a spoon, and wobble and flash through the water. Their main advantage is that they are heavy and can be cast a long distance.
Spinners are perhaps the most effective lure ever developed. Consisting of a metal blade that hangs on a thin wire shaft, they spin, pulsate, and flash when pulled through the water, attracting fish from a long distance.
Jigs are bounced along the bottom to catch bottom-feeders such as walleyes. Often called a “leadhead”, a jig is a lead ball with hook through it. It can have a body made of soft plastic, fur, or feathers.
Crank baits or plugs are wood or plastic lures that look like fish, frogs, crayfish, or other aquatic foods. Most have a plastic lip on the head that causes them to dive and wiggle when retrieved through the water.
Modified Clinch Knot
1. Run end of line through eye of hook twice to form a loop. Be sure line does not cross over itself in hook eye.
2. Wrap free end around main line 4 or 5 times, then thread back through the double loop.
3. Wet the line and pull on mainline and tag end to tighten knot. Trim tag end to 1/8” of knot.