Bank Fishing For Beginners
Bank fishing is likely the very first type of fishing most anglers experienced, perhaps in a nearby lake or pond.
Practically anyone can enjoy bank fishing, including young children, the elderly, and the handicapped. All you need are a rod or pole, some bait, and a body of water. The water might be in the form of a stream, a river, a lake, a reservoir, a pond, a canal, or an irrigation pit.
Bank Fishing Gear
The gear you’ll need for fishing form a bank depends on the type of angling strategies you’ll employ. Any type of rod and reel will work, as will a fly rod, a cane pole, or a telescopic pole. In fact, you can fish from a bank without any type of rod or pole at all, using hand lines.
Of course, you’ll also need hooks, sinkers, and line, and if you’re planning to float your bait, you’ll need a float or bobber. Your bobber should be large enough to fully support your bait yet small enough for the fish to be able to pull it under.
You might find that a dip net is also helpful, but it’s not required.
Methods Of Bank Fishing
Fishing from the bank can be done in several ways. One of the easiest is bottom fishing. If you’re bottom fishing in calm waters with no current, you’ll need just enough weight to allow you to cast your line an adequate distance from shore. If you’re fishing in a running stream or river and you want to bottom fish, you’ll need a heavier sinker or weight to keep your bait in place.
Fishing with a bobber is another way to target fish from a bank. Be sure your bait is off the bottom. You can adjust the depths at which you’re fishing by sliding the float or bobber up or down your line. Try several different depths, until you find out where the fish are holding.
Casting and retrieving can be very productive when bank fishing, too. If the bank is clear of trees and structure, you’ll have 180 degrees of casting space, and you need to take full advantage of this before moving to another spot. Fish might be found in deeper water, or in shallow water close to the bank.
Yet another strategy for fishing from the bank is freelining. With this method, a live bait like a minnow is cast into the water and allowed to swim around freely. This works best when fishing in water with little underbrush or submerged structure that could entangle your line.
To attract fish to shore and to incite a “feeding frenzy,” you can toss some fish food, dry dog food, or bread crumbs into the water. Once you see evidence of fish, you can place your line and bobber near the action, or can cast through and around the feeding fish.
Baits For Bank Fishing
If you’re bottom fishing, you need to use natural baits like worms, leeches, minnows, crickets, maggots, crayfish, or cut bait. If you’re fishing for catfish, try chicken livers, chicken gizzards, or stink bait. Catfish stink bait is a dough-like substance that contains blood and other ingredients that attract the whiskered critters.
If you’re planning to fish with a float, try crickets, worms, bread balls, or minnows. When using bread balls, make them with the freshest bread available. Stale bread is too dry to stay on the hook, and it will fall apart as soon as it gets wet.
If you’re using a cast and retrieve method, you’ll have a wider range of effective baits. Use natural baits, including minnows, large earthworms like Louisiana pinks, or leeches. Artificial baits good for casting depends on the type of fish you’re trying to catch.
The most sought after is bass, which will take spoons, top-water plugs, diving plugs, buzz baits, spinner baits, and soft plastics that resemble worms, crayfish, frogs, lizards, and small fish. For bream and crappie, small jigs and spinners work well, and one of the best ways to catch these species while bank fishing is to use a beetle spin.
Where To Fish
Where you’ll fish will depend on the water temperature, the time of day, and what species of fish you’re targeting. On sunny days while the water is cool, fish will often move into shallow water that has been warmed by the sun. They’ll also be attracted to the mouths of creeks, to submerged brush, to rock piles, and to flooded timber.
In the hottest months, many fish will retreat to deeper, cooler parts of the lake, pond, or river. If you’re looking for deep water, fish near the dam.
Landing Your Fish
If you’re fishing in water that has a flat bank or one with a gentle slope, reel in the fish until it’s on the bank. In deeper water, or around rocks, you might want to use a dip net to land your fish.
What Will I Catch?
Depending on where you’re fishing and which bait you’re using, you might catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, catfish, bluegill, crappie, or trout while bank fishing.