Fishing Basics 101

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Casual fishing basics discussion between me, a fishing novice, and Tyler, our Fish and Swim Guide Specialist, who also happens to fish on the Montevallo Bass Fishing Team and runs an awesome jig company…. Check out his site Wicked Jigs!

Alabama born and bred, Tyler grew up fishing on Bankhead Lake, but fishes most often on Lay Lake. While he usually catches largemouth bass and spotted bass the most, he’s seen just about all the fish the Coosa has to offer. He practices catch and release when he fishes, so he doesn’t usually eat fish from the Coosa. As an intern, he has gotten to deepen his fishing knowledge to discover just how much rainfall and run-off affect E.coli levels in the water. Now he is here to give us some fishing basics tips!

What is on your personal fishing trip checklist?

  • * rods
  • * tackle
  • * life jackets
  • * tie up ropes
  • * net
  • * toilet paper
  • * emergency kit
  • * fish care products
  • * food & drinks

Here’s Tyler reelin’ in a bass on Lay Lake along the Coosa River. 

What is your favorite piece of equipment that you HAVE you have when fishing?

The Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor is my favorite piece of equipment because of all the features it offers that most trolling motors don’t offer. The spot lock feature allows you to stay in one spot without ever having to manually move the trolling motor.  It makes it much easier and time efficient to fish certain areas.

What would you suggest as a starter rod?

The most basic rod is an all around rod is a 7-foot medium heavy baitcaster. That would probably be the best rod to buy if you wanted to get into bass fishing. Typically, that rod would pair with a baitcasting reel with a 12-20 pound line spooled up on it. This rod and reel set-up would be substantial in just about any lure you would want to use.

Should I start out with live bait or lures? How do you know when to use which?

That depends. If your goal is to just catch any sort of fish, live bait would be good. Nightcrawlers are a popular catfish bait that will catch many species. Live minnows are also a popular bait to use. Using live bait doesn’t take much skills because it is mostly “passive” fishing where you cast out your bait and let it sit until you get a bite. Artificial lures is what I use most since I primarily target bass. Lures take more work to fish with because it is “active” fishing. Selection between artificial lures or live bait primarily depends on what your target species is, and how much effort you want to put into fishing.

How does the moon factor into fishing?

The spawn is the most important time to pay attention to the moon phase. Largemouth and spotted bass like to spawn on the first full moon after the water temperature reaches 60 degrees F. On the Coosa, this typically happens from mid-March to mid-April. Bream will also spawn on full moons throughout the summer. 

What time of year is best for bass fishing?

The spring is probably the easiest time to go out and catch bass. Most  of them are near the bank, so it is easy to catch fish off the bank. Bass get pretty lethargic during the summer months, which makes them harder to catch, but they get active again during the fall. Spring and fall are probably the easiest times to catch bass.

How do you boat around other fishers? Is it cool to start fishing where another boat already is?

This is a tricky subject. Most of the time, if someone is fishing a specific spot, then you don’t need to pull over and start fishing next to them. There are some community holes, such as dams and some ledges, where you will often see multiple boats fishing very close to each other. If two boats are fishing down the bank towards each other, typically one boat will go around the other and they will just keep fishing down the bank. As long as you are respectful of people’s space and don’t pull up right next to them and start fishing, you should be good. 

If I am skiing or tubing, how far away should I stay from people fishing?

Sometimes when there are a lot of boats out it is hard to stay far away, but skiers and pleasure boaters need to try to stay at least 50 yards away if they can. Preferably they wouldn’t even get that close!

Where do you suggest beginners fish?

During the spring, fishing from the bank is always good. If the bass are spawning you will be able to see them on their bed and you can visibly fish for them. If you have access to a boat, below dams is a place that always holds a lot of fish of many different species. It can be dangerous though if there is water moving through the dam.