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Five key tips for the beginning angler

Anglers who have experienced the joys of fishing understand the basics about tackle and where to go on our local lakes and rivers for fat walleyes, slab crappies, jumbo perch and big largemouth bass.

But for every person experienced in fishing, dozens more are wondering how and where to begin. Veteran anglers make it look simple. Truth is a successful start in fishing can be difficult.

For those who think fishing might be in their future, today I offer my top five tips for getting started.

The rewards are tremendous. Great adventure awaits those who learn the game and advance to Mosquito, Pymatuning, Lake Erie and dozens of other local waters. Let’s go.

Number one is to resist the temptation to start solo. Fishing can be a contemplative activity where you seek peace and quiet, but until you know the basics, it’s more practical to have a person at your side to provide guidance.

Enlist a friend, relative or co-worker who has experience on the water. They will be flattered that you asked for advice and, if they are decent souls, happy to coach you on your way to fishing success.

Listen and learn when your mentor is sharing information. As it is in many pursuits, the devil is in the details. Pay attention, ask questions and soak in the knowledge.

Number two is to master the operation of your own equipment as soon as is practical. You may begin with borrowed rods, reels and lures, but do plan to buy your own before you wear out your welcome.

Fishing is a comprehensive set of activities. Casting, reeling and catching are just three of them. Do your homework. Fishing begins with thorough preparation and is best enjoyed by those who know what they are doing, not only on the water, but also before they get there and after they leave.

Know how to spool line on your reels so that you can be sure it’s fresh and without twists. Master the art of knot-tying so you can quickly secure your lures without worry about break-offs. Appreciate the value of a super-sharp hook and learn how to hone points that are sticky sharp.

Number three is to fish where the fish are. Mosquito, Pymatuning and Erie are chock full of fish, but they are massive bodies of water that can be difficult to decipher by those who don’t understand why 90 percent of the fish live in 10 percent of the water.

Start your fishing career on small ponds and local streams. Learn where the bluegills and crappies live and then you can take that knowledge and experience to the larger lakes.

Number four is particularly important. When you visit the lake, go with objectives that are realistic. Even the best anglers occasionally fail to catch fish. Make each trip a learning experience, like a day in the classroom on your way to an advanced degree.

Number five is to give it time. Unless you are among the luckiest people on the planet, success will not happen overnight. Fishing is a pursuit that returns compounded interest.

The time you invest may not deliver huge dividends from the get-go, but big rewards await those who are wise and plan for the long haul.

Jack Wollitz is a writer and angler who has helped introduce many people to the joys of fishing and catching. He also enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at

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