I’ve been fishing since I was a kid, that’s a long time, but I can still clearly remember any number of my first memorable fish captures. That’s how powerful an effect fishing had on me from day one. There’s nothing like seeing the excitement and sharing in the fun when people catch their first fish. And whether it’s a child or a grown up beginner just getting into fishing for the first time, the excitement is still the same.

poloroid_2With kids just getting started, it’s very important to make fishing a fun experience from the get go, most of all, they want to catch fish! Never mind the species, trust me, it can be anything from mullet to carp.

Anglers of the future can be won over to a lifelong passion of fishing, and a healthy ‘outdoors’ lifestyle from the very beginning with the guiding hand of a family member, or instructions from an angling mentor.

Arranging for youngsters to fish where there are plenty of fish (so they are almost guaranteed to hook) their first fish is the key ingredient to keeping them keen.

Many youngsters and adults get their first taste of catching fish from stocked trout farms where you’re virtually guaranteed to catch a fish. These trout farms are often located within a pleasant days drive from major cities or near regional towns. The upside of these catch and pay farms is that they supply the rod and reel and bait for you to use, plus stock their dams with large numbers of fish to catch within their private ponds. Complete novices without any gear or experience can catch fish without all the necessary tackle and gear, you won’t need to buy an angling licence to fish, plus any fish you do keep will usually be cleaned ready for you to take home and cook. The downside is that you normally can’t catch and release the fish, you have to buy every fish you catch at a set price per weight.

Another great way for people to try angling without all the initial expense is to go fishing on a charter boat. These boats usually operate in most built up coastal areas where the fishing is good enough to support ‘pay and fish’ charter fishing vessels. These charter boats can range from low cost bay boats where you pay your money and jump onboard with other anglers to catch snapper and flathead etc. up to private charter vessels that head far offshore chasing marlin or tuna.

Beginners can also charter private fishing guides who operate in fish rich areas for specific fish species such as trout, Murray cod, bass or barramundi. These guides will usually be able to supply all the tackle, often have a boat and generally be prepared to spend time instructing you as much as you require.

European carp are a significant feral fish that are doing immense harm to our rivers and native fish populations, there are few areas in our southern states (barring Tasmania) where these fish aren’t found in large numbers and size. Simple enquiries will soon put you onto waters where these fish are in large numbers. A bucket of worms, a basic spinning rod and reel, and a simple running sinker rig is all that is needed to explore and catch these fish in many inland lakes and rivers.

The same outfit and rig using packaged prawns or pilchards for baits will usually result in the ‘easy’ capture of estuary fish such as bream or flathead in most estuary systems around the country.

poloroid_3Most piers and jetties along the east coast of Australia have large populations of 200-250 mm sized baitfish such as yellowtail, which offer fantastic fun, and a great fight on the same spin outfits but using small baited hooks below pencil floats. Similarly, schools of garfish and mullet can also be targeted using berley to attract them and the same float rig but using smaller gaped hooks.

In Victoria, the DEPI (www.depi.vic.gov.au) who are responsible for stocking freshwater fish such as trout, yellowbelly etc. have for many years stocked small lakes and ornamental dams close to Melbourne and in country areas with ‘catchable’ sized trout generally leading up to the school holiday term breaks. These waters are termed ‘Family Fishing’ waters and aren’t usually suitable as ongoing fisheries. This is a great initiative as it allows both adults and children the chance to experience and catch fish at less expense. The DEPI website lists all the Family Fishing waters across the state, when they are stocked and with what fish species.

Regional towns have Visitor Information offices and these are usually a great place to get a handle on the known fishing locations within the district you’re visiting, for the most part they usually only give you a general overview unless there happens to be an angler manning the office, which is rare. If there isn’t a Ray’s Outdoors store around, local fishing tackle shops are generally a good source of what’s biting and where in the area, plus they can give you advice on what rigs, baits and lures that are the most productive.

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