i kinda wanna fish...

-- Last Updated: Jun-15-06 10:32 PM EST --

at least half the times i go out paddling, i have this nature-girl urge to catch my dinner.

so, a few outings ago i says to my paddling companion--who had heard me voice this strange desire to catch dinner on more than one occasion--i says...

"i'll catch 'em if you'll clean 'em."

(insert good 60-second pause)

"ok, i can do that." (or something to that effect.)

so, other than a license, what is the minimum general-purpose gear i will need to fish from the little floaty thing.

keep in mind this is more to satisfy some romantic urge to commune with my surroundings as opposed to, well, survival. so i don't wnat to make a huge investment in...stuff.

i mean, if i don't catch anything there's always a steak or two in the freezer. ;-)

Salt or sweet ?
So where do you plan to fish, and what type of fish are you looking to catch ?

I’m a catch and release guy, because I LOVE a good steak after a day of fishing. But I absolutely WILL taste what blackened redfish tastes like this year … :slight_smile:

Well that depends
Depending on what you plan to fish for you could get a way with a cheap cane pole, line, sinkers, bobber, hooks and worms for less then $20. Walmart had a decent set with everything but the worms for about $15.


Fishing pole $40, reel $40, line, sinkers, hooks bobbers etc $10, tackle box $10.

Give it a $100 budget and have a look around your local Wally World’s sporting goods. Don’t go over board on lures and such until you have a better idea about what you want to fish for but a good pole and reel would be a wise investment.

I fish for half a dozen local species and I have maybe $300 worth of gear.

Oops, almost forgot about the $1300 canoe. :wink:

wow, $1300 buys a lot of steak ;-)…
ok, chances are i’ll be fishing in the james or chickahominy rivers. not much else around here.

so, what’s good in there? i’ll be fishing for that. :slight_smile:

but, yes, i think i’d prefer lures over…worms.

Check with the locals
But I’m guessing that you are headed the $100 route all though the picture on your profile shows water that could go either way. My techniques for the inland northwest waters may not work for you.

To paraphrase Mastercard:

Fishing gear $300, canoe $1300, a Saturday morning on the water, a bargan at twice the price.

A lot depends on what and how you want

– Last Updated: Jun-16-06 2:14 AM EST –

to fish. If you want relaxation, then bait fishing is the way to go...ha...For starters, get you a Zebco 808 rod and reel set up, about $45 most likely and it has the line in the reel. Buy a few bobbers. Most get the large ones, but larger isn't better, buy small to medium size ones. My preferance is for the foam cigar shaped ones. Get a few hooks. For sunfish, the best to start out on, buy #6 to #10 long shank hooks. Hook sizes are weird. For small hooks, sizes range from #2 to who know how high, the higher the number, the smaller the hook. For large hooks, its 1/0 up and as the number gets larger, so does the hook. Learn to tie the hook on with either the improved clinch knot or palamor knot. Get someone to show you or google fishing knots, there are plenty of good websites. Buy some bb split shot, put one or two on the line about 3-6 inches from the hook, put the bobber about 18 inches from the hook, find you a nice little area close to the bank, preferly with some of what fishermen call cover or "structure"...basically things like tree limbs, weeds, or shrubs in the water, and toss the hook nearby. Oh, bait with night crawler worms, meal worms, wax worms, or crickets. Don't need a big gob of bait, just a small piece, except for mealy's, wax's and crickets, then use the whole thing. Usually, I go to Petco or Petsmart to buy my mealy worms. They are sold as food for reptiles.

Better yet, get you a good basic fishing book or borrow one from the library. Forget about half of what the author says, but pay attention to the parts on tackle, they'll be about half right. Even better, find someone who fishes and will show you how. Try to make sure they know you want to learn basic fishing,not something fancy, unless that's what you want. Then, take what they tell you, learn the parts that work, and forget the other half of what he/she tells you.

Animated knots 101
Here’s a good link for learning how to tie some common knots.


I used to take out 4-5 rods, and 4 packed Plano boxes on every adventure. Here in the coastal waters of FL, you never quite know what might come along. What a chore all of that was. Now, I take 2 rods at the most and 1 Plano box. Normally during the course of a day, I’ll change baits maybe 4-5 times. I have my select “confidence” baits, and normally don’t stray too far from them.

Smallmouth bass in the James.
They’re more fun, pound per pound, than just about anything else (in my opinion). We always had good success with Beetle Spins (a kind of miniature “spinnerbait”, with a plastic body on a lead-head jig hook and a small spinner blade), and chartreuse was one of the better colors. If you aren’t squeamish, you can do really well with hellgrammites (the aquatic larva of the Dobson fly). They look like something from a Steven King novel, and the bigs ones can pinch, but fish love them! Look under rocks on sandbars for them. The James should also have plenty of rock bass (or redeyes), which the same tackle, lures, and bait will catch. They aren’t big, but you find them in large schools and can catch a lot of them in one spot.

James and smallmouth
While the James does carry smallmouth, I would like to request (not demand, but genially request) that you not catch them for dinner. The James River, along with most of the Virginia smallmouth rivers, has had poor recruitment of fish the past several years and has a declining population of smallmouth. Catch & Release if you release well, no problem. If you guthook the fish and it’s going to die anyway, take it home to a frying pan. But as a matter of intention, I’d like to ask that you practice C&R for smallmouth bass in the James. I don’t know about the Chickahominy.

That said, there’s a ton of other fish in those rivers that are not suffering as badly and are good to eat - especially bream (sunfish). The bonus is that they’re also easier to catch! The unfortunate thing is that you need to catch more of them to make a meal. The other bonus thing is that it’s really fun to catch them, so catching a lot is a good thing!

I’d recommend a lightweight or medium light weight 6’ spinning rod, spinning reel, 6 pound test monofilament (I don’t like braided lines), some Beetle Spin jig spinners, some in-line spinners, some small jigs and some small tubes. And a Virginia freshwater fishing license. You can get all of this at Wal-Mart (buying the license on-line is easier) for under $100, probably well under. I like the Berkley Lightning Rods for this application, but there are a ton of other reasonably good rods for $30 - 45. The reel for this kind of fishing is more or less a place to keep line. More than $40 is probably a waste. You can probably get away with $25.

Please note. Fishermen are nuts. We agree less than paddlers. You can easily find people, probably on this board, who will disagree with everything I’ve said above (excepting the license).

Another resource - stop by your library and pick up a book on Virginia fishing. My favorite is a book by Bob Gooch, Virginia Fishing Guide. It has a tremendous amount of well-presented information about places, methods, tactics, etc. It would be very useful to someone who is interested in ‘giving it a go’ and who isn’t completely sold on fishing for fishing’s sake.

I hope you do get sold on fishing for fishing’s sake, because the more people concerned about the quality of our rivers for supporting them as a fishing resource, the happier I will be.

E-mail coming as well.

  • Big D

thanks, everyone!
the animated knots are way cool…

as for what i want to do; the simpler the better. it’s more for the sake of gesture than anything, and there is a good chance that one or two “dinners” will get it out of my system.

someone mentioned the james specifically…yes, that is where i will be fishing. most likely in the richmond metro area.

that means huguenot and east. but not too far east as i’d just as soon stop into some local eatery for their legendary crab cakes (or the like) if i’m anywhere near the coast.

so, my next question is, what can i expect to catch in those areas, which of that catch would be edible, and is there a website with the pictures so i can tel what is what.

more thanks.

michelle :slight_smile:

Click on this link to see the Virginia Dept of Health’s fish consumption advisories for your section of the James. http://www.vdh.state.va.us/HHControl/JamesRiver.asp

Of course, you don’t have to eat any of them. You can have a ton of fun with catch and release, and even bluegills, on the appropriate tackle, will give you a good fight.

And here is some information on the fishes you are likely to encounter: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/virginia_fishes/index.html

darn, that is a bummer…
thanks for the resource, though.

being a mn native (twin cities), and having lived in venice for a short time; i’m pretty aware of the conditions from where my fresh fish may come. even though the james is less “muddy” than the mighty mississippi, i was afraid things would be more or less the same here. fresh doesn’t always mean better.

truth be told, i’m leery of (knowingly) eating anything that doesn’t come from open–as in no land for hundreds of miles–water these days…kind of a catch 22 there, yes?

I live 3 miles from Lake Houston, its
pretty much a surburban jungle around its southern half, but would not be afraid to eat fish from it. Eating fish from waters near human habitation isn’t necessarily bad for you, but if there’s heavy industry or big corporate agriculure, the runoff can contain some pretty nasty stuff. If the state doesn’t have an advisory for a particular stretch of water, most likely, its safe to eat from it.

Minimum gear???
Minimum? Really minimum? 89 cents. But you’ll have to work for it. After all, some guy said (half kidding ) $1300, right?

You can cut a willow rod (legally, please). Use about 6-10 feet of sewing thread (most people have it around the house) for free. Then buy a package of hooks size 8 or 10 hooks for 89 cents, unless you can play teary-eyed with someone at the dock–then you got off for free.

You can use bread, fruit (especially fruit peels), marshmallows, raisins, or tons of household food for bait. Don’t need worms or lures. While you will catch mostly smaller fish, it is not unusual for something bigger to come around occasionally.

Ta-da! 89 cents. Yes, I own thousands of dollars of gear, too, but that’s part of the fun.

Fishing without much know how
My wife and I took up kayak fishing 2 years ago without knowing anything and not owning any gear but 2 poles and some medium sized hooks. We had a blast. We have otters. Small and very simple kayaks. We dug up some worms and bought 2 bobbers and drifted down a brakish little stream. We caught quite a number of fish. We have been having a blast ever since. My wife was like you when we started. She was a little interested and then well she got the “bug”. She’s actually a better fisherman than me although I have read a fair bit more. I think the fish like her.

Keep it simple and use live bait. You’ll do much better than with fake stuff. Fish are dumb but not always fooled.

Let us know if you give it a whirl. LOL

You can also buy the Idiots Guide for
Fishing, it’ll help. But, read it, forget half of what it says because its either not true or not relevant to the kind of fishing you plan to do. Then, try out some things. Mainly, have fun.

There’s also the KISS guide
I currently have checked out from my local public library the KISS guide to fishing (Keep It Simple Stupid). Good basic info/techniques.

It’s the knot tying that’s screwing me up / that and sticking my finger with the hook. More like NOT tying than knot tying. Dang! The animated guide hopefully will help.

more animated knots…