When I met my boyfriend Mike, I wanted to know everything about him. This included the things he enjoyed doing in his free time such as fishing and hunting. I thought to myself, how on earth does one fish? You see it in movies, drive-by lakes and see people on them, but how does one start and what do you need.

The great thing about fishing is you don’t absolutely need an expensive rod to fish. You can go to Walmart or Fleet farm and get a $25 combo – a combo is a rod and reel sold as a set – and be able to catch fish. A better rod, whether it’s open water or ice fishing, means more sensitivity/feeling which means more hook sets. In turn, that means more success, aka pulling fish topside.

To start fishing, you need a rod and reel, tackle, bait, and a license. Each state varies as to what information they have, but in general, you can purchase your license as well as find rules and regulations for that state’s lakes on the internet.

The MN DNR page has a lake finder which gives you a plethora of information on the lake, such as species in the lake, stocking reports, maps with depths, and access. The internet is also a great resource to investigate products, this will give you a start, but when it comes down to it, you may like something another person doesn’t, so you will want to try it.

You may want to consider looking into a fishing guide to see if fishing is something you want to get into as well as being able to try different products. If you have friends that fish, even better, ask them if you can go with. But make sure that you offer to cover costs. Friends are more receptive to offer to bring you out again if you offer some cash for boat gas if open water fishing and to cover propane if ice fishing or to bring snacks.

Fishing groups are a wonderful way to learn about fishing tactics, lakes, and equipment. Facebook has a ton of forums and groups to join. There are groups for different species of fish, as well as women-only groups.

A lot of states have a group for women such as Wisconsin Women Fish or WAM – Women Anglers of Minnesota. These groups are full of information as well as anglers on every level from novice to pros.

WAM holds seminars covering everything from how to tie a knot, to using Navionics, to techniques. They also hold open water and an ice fishing tournament that forge friendships and experiences in fishing.

I brought Mike to one of the WAM tournaments to assist as a boat crew. One of the things he said about this group is that he was surprised at how supportive everyone was for each other. If a boat was breaking down, other ladies offered to make sure the women from the broke down boat had another boat to fish in or assist in getting it fixed. If a rod got broke, loaning one so you could still participate in the tourney.

These types of groups want people to succeed in fishing but also to teach conservation and CPR-Catch Photo Release. When you catch a fish, it doesn’t mean you need to keep it, especially the larger ones. These big fish have good genes so let them go, let them grow, and let them breed for more fish like them. Letting them go also allows another angler a chance to catch their PB-personal best.

Another great way to learn about fishing is the radio and YouTube. Minnesota has a couple of great shows, such as the 4 Outdoorsmen on Bob FM every Sunday from 6-7pm CST. They have great interviews with anglers as well as discussions on what lakes are hot right now.

Likewise, YouTube has awesome videos on techniques on tubes for bass fishing or trolling for northern pike. These videos range from the DIY to bass pros and are geared to helping you get out fishing.

One last avenue to investigate is convention center shows. I am aware of a few in Minnesota but have heard of them all over the United States. Clam Outdoors sponsors an ice fishing show the first weekend in December in St. Paul. This show has absolutely anything and everything having to do with ice fishing.

You can look at new products, seminars from pros and destination fishing trips. In Minneapolis, they have the Northwest Sports Show at the end of March. These types of shows cater to the outdoor angler and travelers. They offer Mom and Pop owned stores selling their niche products all the way up to rental of side by sides, and again destination trips for lakes that hold record winning fish. The best part is everyone there loves the same thing you are there for and are happy to talk to you about their passion with the outdoors.

So, you now have a ton of information. Read up or join a club. Go get your fishing license, grab your gear, head out with a friend and wet a line.