Fishing is something that you either get or you don’t. If you don’t, then you likely wonder why people would waste hours of their time sitting and waiting for fish to latch on to a hook.
However, I’d tell you that you’re missing out. You’re missing out on the beauty and quiet of the great outdoors. You’re missing out on being alone with your thoughts, with only the sound of the water gently lapping against the shore to comfort you.
Fishing is therapy. It’s as simple as that, and that’s the reason for this blog. Not only is it a great excuse to get outdoors, which can be enough to improve your mood, but it’s a physical activity, it’s dead simple, and it’s not expensive to get into.
It’s not competitive or stressful. There are no expectations. You are simply allowed to exist, and you’re allowed to take as much time as you need. This is a powerful and therapeutic thing.
Especially for those that are struggling with depression, disabilities, or other ailments which often leave them feeling less than others. Fishing is something that anyone can do. It’s something anyone can use to socialize, or even to not socialize as I prefer.
For disabled vets, the draw of fishing seems to be particularly appealing for these reasons. When you’ve lost a part of yourself, whether mentally or physically, it can be hard to get back to your normal life.
Adaptive systems has even made that an easier process by creating rod holders which are designed for disabled individuals. This includes rod holders for wheel chairs, or even hip designs, which make it easier for wounded veterans or other disabled individuals to take up the great sport that is fishing.
It’s also interesting to note that in a 2009 study, it was found that fishing significantly reduced the effects of PTSD felt by those who participated. However, fishing is an excellent release for any kind of stress, and it’s even an opportunity to unplug from the constant assault of news feeds and negative news that adds to our daily stress build up.
If you’re not keen on cleaning or even eating fish, then no worries. You can always become a catch and release angler. Simply release your new scale-y friend, and they’ll be around to catch another day.
So, how do you get started?
If you’ve never fished a day in your life, don’t be intimidated. The learning curve is zero, and even if you don’t catch a thing all day you can still have fun.
However, the first step is to check licensing requirements in your state. Most states require that you get some type of a fishing license, however, if you’re disabled, you might even get one for free.
Get your fishing license in order
Fishing without a license could result in a fine, so get yourself one. They’re normally pretty cheap, or even free for certain individuals. The disabled, elderly, and even those on public assistance often fall into this category.
You can even get a license at walmart. So, there’s no need to visit any government offices unless you want something special, like tags. I’m going to guess that this is not the case for you though.
This website can help you figure out what kind of license you need and how much it’ll cost you to get one. Keep in mind that they will generally have different license types for offshore fishing, which you won’t need if you plan to fish from land.
Get yourself a pole and some tackle
If you want to be really thrifty, then you can always pick up an old pole at a yard sale or Goodwill. With a little bit of cleaning, and perhaps a little WD-40, these will perform just as well as a new one.
However, new poles don’t have to be expensive. For $15-20 you can get yourself a decent rod and reel combo, one that’s plenty good for shore fishing. The pricey equipment is for offshore fishing, and you don’t need any of that at this point.
It should be noted that you might want to avoid bait-caster reels if you’re new to fishing. These can be.. challenging.. for beginners, and a basic spinner reel will be better. Make sure to pick up a package of hooks as well, because you will lose the first one, possibly rather quickly.
Decide on your preferred bait
Live bait makes things a little easier. Fish obviously are attracted to movement and smell, and you might choose this route, at least at first. Worms or crickets for freshwater, and shrimp or shiners are good for saltwater fishing.
You can also go with frozen bait, which is easier to store. Though I find fish aren’t always as thrilled with it, and I tend to either go live or go for lures.
If you’re looking for something a little more active, then you might go with lures. You don’t have to go crazy here, but you can go to the fishing section and pick up a few things. I’m partially to the swimming shad lure, in the white color. That has performed best for me in murky Florida ponds and lakes at least.
These baits require you to gently drag the line across the water by reeling it in. This creates a swimming motion which attracts the fish, and it can be pretty fun. You can pick up some basic lures for a few dollars and give it a try.
Find your new favorite hang-out
Some fishing spots are better than others. I tend to head for lesser known areas that aren’t as over fished. For me, this means small freshwater alcoves, ponds, and other areas in less busy parks.
It might take you a while to find a good spot, but once you do, it’s yours! That will be your new home away from home, and you’ll come to know every nook and cranny of that area.
Try using google maps to search for little parks by the water. It’s a good way to uncover hidden gems, but you can also ask around the water cooler at work. You might even make some new fishing friends if your social life could use a bit of a boost.