Fishing is an activity everyone can enjoy. You do not have to have a boat or expensive equipment in order to have a great day of fishing fun or, like Bass fishermen, spend thousands of dollars on a boat that goes 50mph. As long as you can find water with fish in it, you will find fish. There are good fish waiting to be caught, even within casting distance of the bank. If you bring a chair along, you can sit there for hours as you catch one fish after another. No fancy boat needed!
You can increase your odds of actually catching fish if you know where to look. If you would like to enjoy some shore fishing, the following tips should help you find some great spots to try out.
Docks, Piers, and Boat Ramps
You will almost always find some good fishing holes around docks, piers, and boat ramps. Boat ramps can be especially good places because a lot of the fishermen who fish from their boats often empty their bait containers out when they get back to the boat ramp. Small fish like minnows and perch are attracted by the bait, and then larger fish are attracted by the small fish.
Be mindful when you are fishing near a boat ramp so you are not in the way of the people launching their boats. The best idea when fishing near a boat ramp is to fish off to the side of the ramp.
A large number of water ways have docks and fishing piers built off of them. Many of these fishing piers will even have bait and tackle stores located nearby. These docks and piers are often constructed in places that are proven to be good fishing holes. Because the pier extends into the water many feet, fishing off a pier is one of the best ways to fish in some depth even though you don’t have a boat. If you think you can catch some bass, you will be aided by the fact that they like shade, and a dock or pier provides exactly that.
There are many state parks that are either situated beside a lake or waterway or contain many such bodies of water within them. So, you will more than likely be able to walk around the shoreline of lakes, the ocean or along rivers when visiting them. Remember that fish like to have some place they can hide if they feel threatened by a larger fish. As such, look for areas that have small trees or brush along the edges of the water.
If you find a hiking path that runs close by streams, creeks, rivers or lakes you will likely have found an excellent place to fish. You might have to walk a short distance but hiking paths often offer you access to water ways that are not accessible by boat. Just grab a backpack big enough to carry your tackle and walk some of the hiking trails that are located near waterways.
Try to find a place without obvious weeds growing near the shore. While the weeds might be a great home for fish, they can be really tough to fish in. The best spots tend to be near — but in not — weeds, or near structure like a rocky drop-off or a downed tree.
Creeks and Streams (and their bridges)
Local creeks near to where you live can offer some great bank fishing and very few creeks are wide enough and deep enough for motorized boats to travel on. Thus, there are plenty of fish in such smaller streams of water but only an angler fishing from the shore will be able to catch the majority of them.
Bridges can be your secret weapon as a shore fisherman or fisherwoman. Fish close to bridges that cross the creeks and rivers because the bridge pilings offer some security to the fish. If you are going to stand on a bridge to fish, do be very mindful of possible automobile traffic. For many popular fishing holes, there are places under the bridge (away from car traffic) which have a safer area to fish from — but still, be very, very careful!
Look for places where the trees lean out over the water and cast a shadow. In the heat of summer fish tend to go into deeper water because its cooler. If the water is shaded by a tree it will be cooler and small fish will swim to the edge of the water to feed. And where there are small fish present larger ones won’t be far away.
Fish next to natural protection like logs in the water, or shrubs that grow out of the water.
River banks and sand bars in rivers offer ample opportunities for bank fishing. Look for places where the river turns just a little. Where a waterway turns there is usually a deep hole of water right in the center of the turn where the bank is steepest. Big fish such as catfish like to get in the deep waters of those turns as the current there is not as strong and those lazier predators can simply hang out waiting for smaller fish to swim by and provide them with an easy lunch.
Sandbars can offer some good bank fishing, but you are going to want to cast your line out to the deeper water off of the sandbar. Little fish like minnows can be spotted in the very shallow water, but where there is a sandbar there is a deeper channel of water flowing where it gets deeper. Cast your line into that deeper water and wait for it.
Where bridges cross river can be great fishing spots under those bridges. There are sometimes small boat ramps that have been established close to bridges or sandbars along the river. You can often fish right off of the boat ramp because river boat traffic is usually not very frequent.
A pond is an excellent place for shore fishing and fish there can often be plentiful and quite large. The problem with pond fishing is that you must make sure that you are not on private property. If the pond is on private property be sure you get the owner’s permission to fish in their pond.
Another factor to consider with small ponds is that it may not actually hold any fish! Just because a pond exists doesn’t mean there are fish in it. Some ponds are too small to support fish, because they might be too shallow causing the water to have oxygen levels too low to sustain fish life.
big water Beaches
Public beaches on large bodies of water often a destination for fishing enthusiasts, especially on the coasts. Fishing on a surf can allow you to pull in saltwater fish which you might normally only be able to find when fishing from a boat, way out on the open water. It is essential to be careful, though. Fishing a surf, especially on an ocean coast or a huge lake like Lake Superior, can be unpredictable. We recommend only doing this if you know the area, understand the weather and tidal patterns, and are wearing a life preserver. And we do not recommend taking young children along for this type of fishing.
Bait and Tackle Shops
You cannot actually fish in a bait and tackle shop but you can get some great tips on places to go and fish from the bank. The people who work in these shops are usually well versed in the best local fishing holes, what fish are biting at the time of year you are asking and what bait you need to catch those fish. Smaller bait and tackle shops usually have more knowledgeable staff where it comes to local fishing holes than employees in the big stores. Drop by one of the small bait and tackle shops and just strike up a conversation. In addition to filling your tackle box with the lures that are working at the moment, you will more than likely leave with directions to the best place to go fishing close by.
Fish and Game
Your local fish and game wardens know all the best places to fish. You can often call the fish and game warden in your area, or go online to their website to get tips on where the best shore fishing is in the area.
The one thing to remember is to keep trying and cultivate your patience, because even a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work!
A note about safety. When fishing from the shore, we often get complacent because our feet might be on dry ground, so we assume that we are 100% safe. The fact is that you are still next to a large body of water that can be lethal, and if you are fishing a coastal beach or a river, there is a fine line between standing on dry ground and finding yourself in the water.
Take a few safety precautions if you go:
- Be very, very careful with young children. Keep your eyes on them, and make their safety your #1 task, even if it means you don’t get to fish much. Insist that they wear a life preserver if you are anywhere near uneven shoreline or deep or moving water. We love seeing adults take kids fishing, but safety needs to be the priority. Assume it will not be your day to catch a trophy fish — the focus should be on the kids.
- Consider a life preserver for yourself as well. You don’t have to wear the bulky, old-fashioned life jacket of our youth. Low-profile, inflatable lifejackets like this one on Amazon feel more like a belt and don’t get in your way. If there is an emergency, though, they quickly inflate and can safe your life!
- Wear good footwear. You never know when a rock is wet, or the last person fishing there left a fish hook on the ground.
- Protect yourself from biting bugs. Bring some repellent to keep bugs away. We were not just talking about annoying skeeters. Many areas with good shore fishing, unfortunately, also are home to ticks that carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes that might have West Nile Virus.