How to Fish with Bait (with Pictures)

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How to Fish with Bait (with Pictures)
How to Fish with Bait (with Pictures)

A sport that can be practiced alone, with friends or with family, fishing is a great resource for those who want to spend some time outdoors and get in direct contact with a wide range of fish. Read this article to find out what it takes to get started!


Part 1 of 4: Choosing the location

Fish Step 1

Step 1. Go where the fish live

Choose a place where you would like to spend several hours and where there are lots of fish. Lakes, rivers and ponds in public areas are the best options. Go to a fishing supply store and ask other anglers for some good tips.

  • Some municipal parks supply the ponds with fish that any citizen can fish. While it's the easiest solution for a novice fisherman, these places are often dirty and overcrowded. Avoid settling in next to other fishermen and invading their area.
  • Isolated spots in ponds and dams are best. When you're walking around looking for a quiet place to fish, make sure you're not trespassing on private property and that fishing is allowed locally.
  • For those who live on the coast, marine fishing is an option. This modality requires specific instruments for saltwater fish and, in many countries, a special license. The techniques employed in both are generally the same.
Fish Step 2

Step 2. Find out what people fish in the region

There are specialized publications that compile the best fishing posts, including the species of fish you will find in each one, the type of bait best suited for them, and so on. Another option is to get information at fishing, boating or camping supplies stores.

Catfish are very common fish in rivers and lakes in the United States and around the world. American catfish, blue catfish and flat-head catfish are widely used in cooking. Look for the deep areas of rivers and streams, especially depressions or steep pears. Catfish love these places, and tend to shelter in deep water in warm weather

Fish Step 3

Step 3. Determine what your trophy (or meal) will be

Do you want to catch an alligator fish but are far from the south coast of the United States and Central America? He will certainly not be caught in the Tietê river. If you have the ambitious project of catching a specific type of fish, you will have to travel to the waters it inhabits.

  • In the Great Lakes region of North America, the green beggartick and the Esox lucius are the most popular trophies. Lake Huron is where American fishermen go when they want these and other big fish. In Brazil, the most sought after species by those interested in large fish is the pirarucu, native to the north of the country.

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  • In southern North America, alligatorfish and amia are common in swampy regions, as are sole and perch. Henderson swamp in Baton Rouge is where fishermen go for alligatorfish, and Lake Pontchartrain is a destination for all kinds of fish. In Brazil, the pacu, found in the central region of the country, is one of the most sought after muddy water fish.
  • The northeastern United States abounds with rainbow trout, which stand out for the red or pink stripe that crisscrosses its body from gill to tail fin. Also very common in this region are green beetles and sea bass. The latter is also much sought after in Brazil by fishermen from the south and southeast regions.

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  • If you have chosen a body of water and want to know what fish you will find in it, just throw some food scraps into the water and wait a few minutes.
Fish Step 4

Step 4. Find a meeting point between shallow and deep water

Most fish that are good for fishing spend the day in deep water and come to the shallows in search of food. Since they don't spend a lot of time in shallow water, it's a good idea to take your post near the areas they frequent when they want a quick bite to eat.

Look for beds full of reeds and overturned logs that are close to abrupt depressions. Insects usually concentrate in the meanders and small hollows, which attract fish in search of food. It is common to find catfish in mussel colonies

Fish Step 5

Step 5. Schedule fishing for the right time of day

Freshwater fish are twilight - that is, they feed at dawn and sunset, which are, therefore, the best times for fishing.

If you're an early riser, get there before dawn and you'll have a profitable catch. If you get the chills thinking about the alarm whistle at 4:30 in the morning, make plans to fish at dusk

Fish Step 6

Step 6. Anyone who wants to fish to eat has to go to a place with clean water

Contact the environmental agency or ask a park representative if the waters in the area are clean and the fish suitable for consumption. If you don't want to eat them, just drop them in the water again.

Part 2 of 4: Providing the Equipment

Fish Step 7

Step 1. Obtain a fishing license

Visit the website of the agency responsible for issuing the license (usually the environmental or natural resources agency) to find out. In the United States, the issuance fee is around US$40.00 for residents of the state where the license is in effect, or double that for non-residents. A license in one state is not valid in another. The application can be made via the internet, but there are states that require an in-person visit. In Brazil, the license fee is between R$ 20.00 and R$ 60.00.

  • Some countries issue temporary licenses to anyone who wants to save money or who doesn't intend to fish for an entire season. For those who live in the region, on the other hand, it is more advantageous to buy the full license.
  • In many states in the United States, a license is not required for children under 16 years of age. Check what your country's laws provide on the subject.
  • In some countries, there are free fishing days, where anyone who wants to can fish without a license. Even so, special permission from the Department of Natural Resources is often required.
Fish Step 8

Step 2. Provide fishing rod and reel

Visiting the sporting goods store is intimidating for some, but you don't need to empty your savings to buy a proper fishing rod and reel. Ask the seller for some fishing rod tips that are good and fit your budget.

  • More often than not, the best pole for beginners is medium in size-that is, one whose length is similar to the angler's height and whose weight can be easily handled by his dominant hand. At first, it's best to opt for a slightly flexible pole, which offers less risk of breaking the line and can withstand the medium-sized fish that newcomers tend to look for. Do not use a flexible rod for large fish.
  • The most common types of reel are the baitcast, whose reel is vertical, and the spinning, which is perpendicular to the pole. The latter are best for those just starting out, and can have an open or closed spool. The closed spool is normally operated by a button, and therefore can be operated more easily by beginners.

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Fish Step 9

Step 3. Provide the proper hook and line

The thinner the line and the smaller the hook, the greater your chances of catching a fish. And the type of line has to be compatible with the pole - a rigid pole requires a very strong line; a flexible one, a line as thin as possible. The thinner the line, the more fish you will catch.

  • The hook must match the type of fish you want to catch. #1 hooks are good for almost anything, but other species may require hooks ranging from #8 to 5/0. Find out at the nearest fishing shop about the number of hooks (ie: 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0 etc.) and which ones are best for you.
  • Tying small hooks and fine lines can be tricky. Ask the shop's salesperson or your fishing companion for instructions.
Fish Step 10

Step 4. Choose the right bait

Synthetic baits such as Power Bait look and smell similar to live baits. There are also several types of elaborate and iridescent plastic baits. And, as fish feed on insects and other aquatic creatures, there are also live baits, which provide a more authentic fishing experience.

  • You can buy live bait from a fishing shop or collect it from the wild. Many fishermen catch worms in their own backyard after a rainy day or at night, with the help of a flashlight. Grasshoppers can be found at the edge of streams. And it is possible to catch lambaris with bread crumbs and a net, or a specific trap. Leave them in a bucket of water and keep them alive for as long as possible.
  • Every angler has a favorite bait, but live bait seems to be the popularity champion. Consider these options:
  • Earthworms;
  • salmon eggs;
  • Locusts;
  • Cameroon;
  • Bull's liver;
  • Bacon;
  • Cheese.
Fish Step 11

Step 5. Provide a place to store the fish

Anyone who wants to keep the fish will need a fish cage or a bucket where they can keep them until the end of the catch. Having a net will make it easier to remove fish from the water and remove the hook.

If you're going to fish by boat, you'll need to arrange the necessary details: life jackets and a boating license to get started. If you're going to be on land, you'll need to bring a beach chair and waterproof high-top boots, which will keep your feet from getting wet

Part 3 of 4: Catching the Fish

Fish Step 12

Step 1. Tie the hook to the line

In fly fishing, knowing the knots is half the sport. But a beginner will do well if he only knows the single knot (or clinch). To make the single knot:

  • Thread the end of the line through the hook loop, wrap it around itself four to six times, and pull it back toward the hook.

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  • Insert the end of the thread into the loop and pull it tight. You may need to spit a little bit of saliva on the line to lubricate it and ensure the knot is tight.

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Fish Step 13

Step 2. Install leads and buoys

If there is considerable current, as is often the case in rivers and streams, it is best to place a lead in the line, about a foot above the bait. Lead helps keep the bait a few inches above the bottom, which is right where the fish hunt.

When you are a beginner, using a large buoy that can be seen from the shore makes things much easier. This item lets the angler know that he has hooked the fish when the buoy starts to shake and sink. Don't overdo the weight of the pellets, however, or the buoy will sink and it will be difficult to notice when you've hooked a fish

Fish Step 14

Step 3. Place the bait on the hook. Filamentous baits have to be crossed as many times as possible by the hook to stay secure. Hold the hook well with one hand and with the other stick the bait in it, approximately 1/3 of the end. Twist the bait against the end of the hook again and cross it through at the midpoint. Crossing the bait two or three times through the hook should suffice.

As disgusting as it is to get the hook through the worm three times, it is essential that it stays securely attached to it, or it will come loose when you cast the line

Fish Step 15

Step 4. Cast the line

Beginners usually do this from the side, using the same motion as they would throw a stone into water. Pull the rod back and gently swing it in the direction you want to throw the hook, releasing the line the moment you shake it.

The way to release the line will depend on the type of reel being used. If the reel has a closed spool and a button, the job is very simple: just hold the button to give the line and release it to stop. Squeeze the button while swinging the stick backwards, and when you point it in the desired direction, release it

Fish Step 16

Step 5. Wait in silence.

Some anglers retract the line very slowly while gently flicking the line to give the fish the impression that the bait is alive. You could do this, depending on your experience and the type of bait, or just sit back and wait. Try different methods until you hook something, but don't start retracting the rope right after you cast the hook.

  • Fish are startled by loud sounds and noises, so turn down the volume on the radio and talk in whispers, only when necessary. In addition to hurting your income, being fussy will infuriate all the fishermen in the area.
  • You can tell if a fish has taken the bait by touch by looking at the float or rope tension, or by attaching a bell to the end of the rod. When you feel the pinch, make slow movements before pulling the rod to make sure the line is not slack.
  • If you've waited 10 to 15 minutes and haven't caught anything, go to a different place on the shore, cast the hook and wait again.
Fish Step 17

Step 6. Hook the fish

When you feel a tug on the line or the contact of the fish with the bait, it will be necessary to "put in" the hook. To do this, just give the rod a firm upward pull (and, consequently, the line). If there is a fish on the hook, it will resist, but it will be trapped.

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish a hook from the force the current exerts on the bait. Only with practice can you learn to differentiate one from the other

Fish Step 18

Step 7. To bring the fish to shore, pull the rod up high while retracting the line

Don't just use the reel to pull the fish, unless it's a very small species. Keep the line very tight and use your arms to bring it close to you, and use the reel to eliminate slack in the line.

  • Line slack is the most common culprit for fish escape, as it allows them to dislodge the hook. Maintaining line tension is one way to ensure that the hook remains attached.
  • Modern windlasses have adjustable resistance, but you can also calibrate the resistance by holding the line in your hand. When you feel the line stretching, the reel resistance kicks in, exerting constant pressure that can tire even big fish. Try using the rod to guide the fish into open water.
Fish Step 19

Step 8. Catch the fish with a net

When the fish gets tired and the line is retracted, bring it out of the water and ask your partner to catch it with a net - which you can do yourself, as long as you're careful. Be careful not to pierce yourself with the sharp fins of the fish and the tip of the hook.

Part 4 of 4: Storing or dropping the fish

Fish Step 20

Step 1. Measure the fish

If you want to eat it, you will need to check that it is big enough and that it is not an endangered species. Catch the fish by smoothing it from head to tail, which will prevent you from sticking yourself with the fins. If you move in the opposite direction, it will be pierced.

Those wishing to keep the fish may need to bring a guide who knows the local species with them and check with the natural resources department for the minimum size to catch each species

Fish Step 21

Step 2. Remove the hook

Both those who are going to keep and those who are going to return the fish must pull out the hook gently and in the same way that it pierced the animal's mouth. There are specific tools for removing hooks, but a simple needle-nose pliers will work just fine.

  • The pliers can also be used to crush the hook sling, making removal even easier. Some professionals recommend that this be done before using the hook (especially when fishing for catfish) to facilitate the release of the fish. This is best suited for circle hook and octopus hooks, whose curvature attaches firmly to the fish's mouth and can be removed without too much effort.

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Fish Step 22

Step 3. Decide whether to release or release the fish

If it's too small or if your goal with fishing is to have fun, take a photo to celebrate the achievement and gently release the animal into the water. Whoever is going to cook the fish now has to decide between cleaning it immediately or keeping it alive in a submerged cage until cleaning can be done.


  • Rest a finger on the line: this way you can feel the pinch easily, even if you don't have a buoy. At certain moments, there is the impression of a hook, but it is just the current moving the buoy. Remember that the buoy follows the fish's movements: if it moves against the current, you've caught something.
  • Do not assemble the equipment or place the bait on the hook if you have recently used sunscreen (unless it is an odorless product). The odor of sunscreen would keep the fish away from the bait.
  • Do not cover the hook completely with the bait. The sling must be exposed; otherwise, the fish will just pull out the bait and spit out the hook. Larvae are the best option, as it is possible to stick a small piece on the hook, leaving the hook exposed. Another option is worms, which require a slightly larger hook and have to be crossed a few times.Finally, you can use bread or cheese as bait.
  • If the target is a predatory fish, use a spoon-type or crankbait artificial bait. Artificial bait offers two advantages in this type of fishing: it covers a larger area, and the fact that it looks alive and swims instigates the predatory instincts of the big fish.
  • Dispose of the monofilament line properly. Fishing places often have baskets for recyclable waste. If left in the wild, the nylon line can strangle waterfowl.
  • Obey local regulations regarding the number of fish each fisherman can keep. Using good baits, it is possible to catch up to 100 fish - but most of the time, the amount people can keep is quite limited, or the catch has to be larger than a certain size. There are also fishing spots where the animal's return to water is mandatory. Know the local regulations well.
  • The rules governing the fishery vary from country to country and sometimes even from state to state. See if there are restrictions on the use of live baits. Many basins, especially those with a native fish population, allow each angler to use a single hook without a sling and equipped with artificial bait. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you do not use live baits in a location that only allows artificial baits: you may be forced to pay a fine as salty as caviar!
  • Those who do not like to handle live baits can substitute them for bread rinds. Just toss the husks on the surface of the water.


  • Handle hooks with care. Aside from the obvious risk of perforation, removing a sling hook can be extremely difficult. Be careful when casting the hook and removing it from the fish's mouth.
  • If there are other anglers around, remember to keep your distance from them and not to throw your hook near their chosen spot, or the lines could get tangled up, which leaves any angler angry and frustrated. If that happens, apologize and do your best not to repeat the same mistake.

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