Fishing for adult beginners - preparations
Derek's Fishing Pages
Memorable Fishing Trips
Returning to Fishing
Bait & Groundbait
Presents for Anglers
Preparing for the first trip - and where to go
A book is not such a bad idea for the the naming of the parts; how to put it together, how to tie a few basic knots and so on. Visit your local library and borrow everything you can find starting with the oldest books first (I sometimes say only read books from before 1975 for the first two years) then sit down with a spool of nylon, a few hooks and practice setting up in the warm.
Where to go - freshwater coarse fishing
In general the smallest streams will give you the best chance of finding a few wild fish. Be prepared to fish a spot for an hour then move on a few yards if you don't catch or if sport dies. Small ponds are a reasonable alternative but you will find them hard in the winter.
Try to resist the temptations of so-called 'bagging pools' - commercial still-water fisheries that are so overstocked that the clumsiest novice can't help catching something (at a price) as you will learn little there that will be of use in natural waters and may pick up some bad habits. For example, wild fish will hide from bankside disturbance, overstocked hungry fish may have learned to swim towards a clumsy angler as it's their only hope of getting food in their artificial environment.
Where to go - freshwater trout (fly) fishing
Trout can be caught with conventional baits but it's not easy for beginners to find venues where bait is permitted; for no very good reason there is a great deal of predjudice about non-flyfishing methods for 'game' fish. As it happens most so-called coarse fish will also take a fly and they are excellent quarry on which to practice the techniques involved, but I digress.
The single best advice is to pay for a professional fly casting lesson right at the start of your flyfishing career. Ask the instructor to supply tackle for the first time and to help you buy suitable tackle for your physique and for the waters where you intend to fish. Ask too to be shown how to put it all together.
You are therefore stuck with going to the instructor's chosen workplace as the venue for your first trip. After that you will find the advice given for coarse fishing applies as well to trout. Tiny moorland streams often teem with admittedly small trout but there are so many that you only need to move a few yards after scaring one to have another unsuspecting fish upon which to practice. Larger lakes and reservoirs offer fishing for grown-on stocked fish, ones that have spent much of their lives in the water and thus behave as wild fish and which taste like wild fish when cooked. Near most cities there are commercial 'put and take' waters where fresh fish are stocked every day and the best fly is a food-pellet imitation. They taste of food pellets too. you will find little satisfaction in catching these.
Where to go - saltwater
Unless you are already a very seasoned sailor restrict your first trip to the shore. Fiddling with strange tackle, new knots and smelly baits in a pitching boat is a recipe for seasickness. When you have learned a few basics you will be ready to go afloat.
The best starting venue is a pier or similar structure where you can fish straight down for specimens that haunt the piles or with a float alongside the seaweeds that grow on the structure and hide the food that predators seek.
Don't try casting at first. The best chance of a fish really is almost straight down, most of the time within a couple of meters of the pier structure. Take a look at the children's section for some good beginners methods.
When you think you're ready to go afloat ask around for a skipper who specialises in beginners angling parties and who will hire you a suitable set of tackle. Even if you intend to fish from your own vessel this is the best way to get a few fish at the start and to learn the local conditions.
Unless stated otherwise: Everything in this site refers to fishing in the British Isles and similar northern European waters.