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Lakeside Fishing for Beginners

April 3, 2021

There are a lot of opportunities to go fishing in Oregon and Washington. But you don’t have to own a boat or wade into a creek or river to enjoy a day of angling. We’ve put together some beginner tips and advice to help with your lakeside or dock fishing adventure.  

Understand the Rules of Fishing

There are 9,400 lakes and reservoirs to cast a line and enjoy a day of fishing, between Oregon and Washington. Both the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Washington Department of Fish Wildlife (WDFW) have specific rules and regulations for fishing any of those waterways. Download and review the guide for Oregon and Washington before you start your trip. Additionally, we’ve put together some tips on state rules and regulations.

Yes, You Need a Fishing License 

In most cases, a fishing license is required. The only true exceptions deal with kids. In Oregon, those under 12 do not always need a license. In Washington, those under 14 may be able to fish without a license, in case cases. Get your license online in Oregon and Washington before you head out on your adventure.

Bring the Right Gear

First, dress for the weather. Fishing from shore or a dock means you’ll be sitting in one place for a long while. You’ll either be directly in the summer sun, cold wind, or downpour.

Additionally, bring the right rod and reel. And pack your tackle box with the right essentials for a good day on the lake. You’ll need a lightweight spin casting or spinning rod and reel, middle-of-the-road fishing line (6-pound monofilament line), a pack of bait hooks, some plastic bobbers, power bait or power eggs, worms, and some 1/16 oz. spinners. You can get all of it at Coastal.

Know Where the Fish are Biting

Throughout Pacific Northwest lakes and reservoirs, you’re likely going to be fishing for trout, bass, crappie, catfish, sunfish, yellow perch, tiger muskie, and others. If you go into the higher elevations, you can also find mountain whitefish.

Both Oregon and Washington make it easy for you to know when your favorite body of water has been or will be stocked with fish. Check out the schedule for Oregon and Washington, and then plan your trip accordingly.

Fish Early or Late

Depending on the time of year, fish will be most active in the early morning hours or later in the day as the sun sets. These are the best times for them to hunt and remain out of sight of birds and other prey. And just like humans, fish don’t like hot summer days. They’ll hide deeper in the water to stay cool.

Understanding Knots, Bait, and Techniques

There are as many techniques for tying your line and baiting your hook as there are fishing stories. ODFW has some good information on knot tying techniques to help you get started.

Once you know what you’ll be fishing, the ODFW has a great guide to help you catch them. Look for the specific species and you’ll find information on that fish’s favorite hiding place, as well as what bait and techniques work best to catch them. If you’re not sure what fish will be in the lake or reservoir, stick with natural baits, such as worms.

Cast it Out and Reel Them In

The good news about lakeshore fishing is that you’re going to get good at casting after just a few days. The bad news is, you’ll be doing a lot of casting.

One of the essentials in lakeside fishing is the bobber. Keep an eye on it, and keep a pulse on your line. When you feel a tug on the line and/or see your bobber go under, it’s time to hook the big one.  

To properly set the hook into the fish, don’t jerk the line when you feel a nibble. Instead, feel it out. Once they’ve taken the bait, pull back with moderate pressure. Once the hook is set, the fish will start to fight. Your first instinct will be to reel it in quickly. Try to fight that reflex until you’re a more avid angler. Instead, tire the fish out and reel it in gradually. Once it makes it to shore, use a net to secure your prize. If you’re catching and releasing, try to get them back in the water within a minute.

Coastal Loves Fishing

You’ll find everything you need for your first or next fishing trip at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal. Stop by and our pros will help you get the right rod and reel, as well as the gear you need. Plus, we sell fishing licenses in both Oregon and Washington.