By Aimee Robinson | Courtesy Photo
There are 30 million adults and eight million children who fish in the United States, according to 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife. Are you among this statistic?
If you are unfamiliar to the sport, before you hit the water with your gear and buds in tow, there are a few things to consider first: type of water you’re fishing in, what kind of bait you’ll use and the fishing laws in your area.
Lakes, ponds, rivers and streams—it’s all freshwater, right? Correct, but each type of freshwater presents its own set of challenges when you drop a line in the water. Each environment has its own unique ecosystem and structure.
It’s “crucial” to know your water’s structures and fish habitats to make for a fun day of fishing.
If you aren’t familiar with fishing and are lacking the expensive gear, you may be interested in Dick Strother’s guided fishing tours, Dream Day of Fishing, out of Tyler.
“No fuss, just fishin’” is Dick’s motto, and he embraces it. Knowing the expense and hassle fishing can too often present, he offers dream days of fishing, where his customers dream up their perfect day of fishing, and he turns it into reality.
“They dream up their fishing trip, and I make it happen,” Strother says laughing. “If someone doesn’t have a special spot, then I suggest what fish are biting and what could be the most fun. We rely on my expertise, and then we just go and catch some fish.”
Strother is a long-time fisherman, and he is deeply passionate about the adventure and fun involved within the sport.
“I grew up fishing. It’s what we did every Sunday afternoon, a picnic and fishing out on the creek,” he reminisced.
After years of being a professional, traveling competitor at fishing tournaments, Strother started traveling less, and the idea of being a guiding fisherman became a reality.
“If you really enjoy doing something, nothing makes it more fun than sharing it with others and introducing it to them,” he says.
Freshwater fishing in lakes and ponds is a good place to start out because the water produces plentiful plant food and offers areas for fish to hide. Structures such as logs, brush and rocks provide shelter and protection for fish.
In the winter months, when the sun heats up, the baitfish reside in the middle of the lake on dams and high spots, and also go to deeper water and stack up on humps and riverbeds, says Mike Weeks, owner of East Texas Fishing.
Knowing your still water’s structure, such as points, inlets, holes, dams, submerged objects and weeds, can lead you to success on your fishing trip. Fishing around structures provides you with this simple formula, according to takemefishing.org:
• Structure creates shallows
• Shallows create plant growth
• Plant growth attracts bait fish
In addition to knowing your water’s structures, you also should know which direction the water is moving and how fish behave in it. When fishing in running waters, it’s best to stay near the bends of the rivers and streams.
“This creates a pocket there and the fish won’t fight the current; this is also where the bait fish can hold up at, creating a natural strike zone,” Weeks says. “If you have a big tree in the water, it will break the flow of the water.”
It’s also important to know what kind of bait is available for use. There are countless types of fishing bait and lures to use when you’re out on the water.
Good freshwater fishing baits include worms, minnows, leeches, crayfish, crickets and grasshoppers. Bottom-feeders like catfish and carp can also be attracted to cut up bait fish and already prepared baits, which are also known as dough balls.
Fishing jigs, poppers, spoons, plugs and spinners are the most popular lures for freshwater fishing. Mike Bolt, fisherman from Okmulgee, Okla., has been fishing all his life, even designing and hand making his own fishing gigs in-house for more than 45 years.
The jigs have weighted metal heads and tails made of animal hair, plastic, feathers or even rubber.
“We make a fishing jig, we catch three or four different types of fish from stripers, sand bass, crappie, walleye and even some blue catfish,” Bolt says. “We can use the jigs for really anywhere there are fish.”
Like with state-to-state regulations for bait, there are also rules and regulations to follow in the state of Texas for fishing as a sport itself, such as licensing and catch limits.
Any person who takes or attempts to take fish, mussels, clams, crayfish or other aquatic life in the public waters of Texas must have a current Texas fishing license with the appropriate stamp endorsement, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website. A saltwater endorsement is required to fish in coastal waters, and a freshwater endorsement is required for inland waters.
Texas Parks and Wildlife website provided the graph given below, showing fishermen the statewide bag and length limits for freshwater fish.