A Beginner’s Guide to Freshwater Fishing

December 09, 2019

Freshwater fishing, also called coarse fishing, is fishing in waters that do not have salt. If you are a beginner, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed with the rules and regulations and what fishing gear you will need, including boat cleaning supplies. This guide will help inform you of your responsibilities and how you can safely navigate fresh waters to find the prime fish you are looking for.

First Things First – You Need a Rod License

Anyone over the age of twelve is required to have a rod license when fishing for trout, salmon, eels, or any freshwater fish. If you are caught fishing without a rod license, you could be fined a hefty fine of £2,500. There are multiple ways to purchase a rod license in the United Kingdom, including online, at post offices, and by phone.

You also have multiple options when it comes to purchasing a rod license. You can purchase a single day, a week, or a license that is good for a year. If you are unsure of whether you will fish regularly, it may be wise to purchase a day or week license. The yearly license is the best value for those who fish frequently.

What Should You Know About Closed Season?

There are periods where coarse fishing is not allowed. The closed season means you absolutely cannot fish for any reason or in most water, though there are some exceptions. In freshwater fishing, this period runs from March 15 to June 15. During the closed season, you can only fish in still waters which may include some canals.

Properly Handling Fish Is Important

While coarse fishing is mostly “catch and release” you are allowed to keep a certain amount of fish as long as they are of the right size. For those fish you catch that you are not allowed to keep, there are certain rules and regulations enforced in the UK for handling and safely releasing the fish back into the water.

Fish have a slimy coating on their bodies and this coating is vital to their health. It helps protect them against bacterial growth and parasitic infections. If the slimy coating is disturbed, it is possible the fish could die. Sustainable methods are imperative in coarse fishing. We must all do our part to protect the fish population. The following tips should help you properly handle and release fish so their wellbeing is protected.
• Always wet your hands before handling any fish and do not ever use a cloth to hold them. Doing so will damage their protective coating and cause them to be vulnerable.
• If you cannot hold the fish because of its size, never place it on the ground or the floor of your boat because this can lead to damage. Using an unhooking mat is a safe way to remove the hook or barb without causing damage to the fish’s protective coating.
• Properly removing the hook or barb is essential. Never pull on the line to remove the hook. If the hook is lodged superficially, you may be able to remove it with your fingers alone. If the barb or hook is deeper, use a disgorger tool to remove the hook safely and effectively without causing serious damage to the fish. It is wise to use barbless hooks so the removal process is much easier and does not cause extensive bleeding in the fish.
• Catching and releasing means safely returning the fish to its home in the waters. Never throw a fish back into the water because this could cause injury. Gently place the fish in your wet hands and slowly lower it in the water and allow it to swim away. If the fish is larger and there was a struggle to reel it in, it may be exhausted. Hold the fish underwater, preferably against the current, until it has gained the strength to swim away.

Bottom Line

Freshwater/coarse fishing is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages. If you are new to fishing in freshwater, do not be intimidated. The above rules and tips should help you to fish safely. With the right gear and practice, you will soon become an old pro. Enjoy and learn from each fishing expedition and you will gain skills over time.