Fishing: everything you ever wanted to know
Last updated: 5 January 2011.
Please note that this page is now archived. A number of the links are broken and we are very unlikely to revisit or update them. However, you can always track down an old page by copying its name into a search engine and looking for its new location.
Fishing is one of our top sports and pastimes. There are over 4 million anglers in the UK and some 34 million people fish in the United States each year. Anglers don't just enjoy themselves: they are at the front-line of river conservation. They have an interest in keeping rivers clean, well-stocked, and non-polluted.
If you don't know anything about fishing, you might wonder where to start: fishing can seem like a mysterious, priestly art that you need years to master. Nothing is further from the truth: you can start fishing in a weekend—this weekend, next weekend, or any weekend. It's simple! Start here with our comprehensive list of web pages covering every aspect of fishing. Get yourself outside and enjoy your rivers—give them another reason to stay fantastic!
Photo of Arctic grayling at the Gulkana River, Paxson, Alaska. Photo by Phil Coleman courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Contents: what's on this page?
- Start here: Introductions and beginners' guides
- Fishing for kids and families
- Official information
- Where to go fishing in your area?
- Fly Fishing
- Organizations and groups you can join
- Fishing controversies
- More lighthearted
Start here: Introductions and beginners' guides
General introductions and overviews from online encyclopedias
- Fishing: Introductory article from Wikipedia has a distinctly historical slant, covering the history of fishing (back to antiquity), traditional fishing techniques, and modern fishing.
- Fly fishing: Another introductory article from Wikipedia. A wide ranging article that covers both the practicalities of fly fishing and the culture.
- Fishing: Short article in the Columbia Encyclopedia. (The Wikipedia article is much more extensive.)
- Angling: Introductory article from Wikipedia.
Practical beginners' guides
- Angling 101: A nice introduction from Bonita Staples.
- Fly fishing for beginners: The basics of fly fishing and tips for more experienced fishers too. Including how to clean your rod, how to cast, finding the fish, hooking, learning from insects, the best wet and dry flies to use, and much more.
- Hooked on flies: A fly fishing 101, with lots of good, practical information, including fly fishing knots, casting, how to present the fly, how to dress for fishing, and more.
- About: Freshwater fishing: A large collection of beginner's guides from About.com, including how to choose fishing line, how to rig worms, how to fish with spoons, etc.
- Fishing4fun.co.uk: A coarse fishing guide for the beginner and intermediate angler (mainly aimed at the UK, though the practical tips will be of interest to all readers).
- Professional Association of Anglers: The PAA website contains lots of practical angling advice, including how to land a catch, how to choose and look after your tackle, and tips about different kinds of fishing gear.
- Fishing for Beginners: A guide from BBC H2G2.
- Beginner's guide to fishing and angling in UK canals, lakes, and rivers: A guide from Waterscape.com
- Angling 101: A very active bulletin board for the angling community (mainly US)
- The beginner's guide to shore and sea fishing: Simon Day offers a guide to equipment, bait, accessories, tips, and tracks. There's also a guide on how to catch specific types of fish (currently one guide on "How to catch Mackerel using lures, feathers & floats", but more promised soon).
- Land Big Fish: Lots of information about fishing, including a directory of thousands of fishing suppliers, shops, angling schools, and other fishing-related businesses.
Fishing for kids and families
For younger children
- US Fish & Wildlife Service kids page: Lots of children's activities here, including:
- Fishing ABC's colouring book: An A-Z, 28-page colouring book for kids from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
- Fishing fun: An introduction for younger readers from Outdoor Canada.
- Kids Fishing Tips: How to tie knots, rigging techniques, best baits, how to cast, safety tips, and a checklist for your tackle box are some of the tips on this page.
For older children
- Get Hooked on Fishing: "Founded by Mick Watson in Durham in 2000 Get Hooked on Fishing was established to build a brighter future for young people through the sport of angling."
- Fishing for kids: A great US project to get children interested in fishing, outdoor life, and the wider community.
- The Tadpole Foundation: Another great US project: "... whose mission is to give every child the chance to go fishing. To this end, The Tadpole Foundation maintains a fishing equipment lending library, and sponsors an annual free day of fishing.".
- Tom's coarse fishing for beginners page: A complete guide from 16-year-old Tom. Unfortunately the site seems to be missing its pictures, but it's a good read all the same.
- Why Kids Need Fishing: Richard Louv explains why fishing can be a great pastime for kids.
- Taking kids fishing: A short intro from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
- Kids All-American Fishing (KAAF): "KAAF provides kids and families with venues where they can experience the sport while exposing them to character-enriching values to help them be successful in life."
- Kids fishing: A directory of sites related to kids and family fishing.
- Guidelines in getting kids started fishing: Sage advice from BoundaryWatersCanoeArea.com.
- Environment Agency: Fisheries page: Main source of official information about UK fishing, e.g. rod licences, fishing laws, etc.
- Buy your rod licence online: Any angler aged 12 years or over, fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels in England (except the River Tweed), Wales or the Border Esk and its tributaries in Scotland must have an Environment Agency rod licence.
- US Fish and Wildlife Service: Fishing: All you need to know about fishing in the United States, including where to go fishing in a national wildlife refuge.
- Enjoying waterways - rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs: Direct.gov, official website of the UK nanny state, explains how to find waterways near you, how to be safe near the water, and other related things.
Where to go fishing in your area?
- Where to fish: find locations in your area: The Environment Agency's online guide to fishing places throughout England and Wales.
- Where to fish?: A directory covering the UK and Ireland from The Angling Times.
- International fishing websites: A neat list of worldwide sites compiled by Fly Fishing New Zealand.
Fishing in England
- Where to fish: find locations in your area: The Environment Agency's online guide to fishing places throughout England and Wales.
- Fishing in England: A handy collection of links from Fishingnet.com
- Fishing in North East England: Tips for fishing tourists, including a guide to the rivers Tyne, Tees, and Wear.
Fishing in Wales
- Where to fish: Wales: find locations in your area: The Environment Agency's online guide to fishing places in Wales.
- Where to fish in Wales?: A directory from The Angling Times.
- Visit Wales: Fishing: A tourist guide for anglers in Wales. Covers game, coarse, and sea fishing. Includes fishing reports, fishery fact file, accommodation, tides, online booking etc.
Fishing in Scotland
- Fishing in Scotland: A comprehensive directory of Scottish fishing links from Fishingnet.com, including the best places to go for salmon, brown trout and sea trout angling.
- Fishing in Scotland: A guide to Scottish fishing holidays, coach tours, angling clubs, tackle shops, and more.
- Fishing in Scotland: A tourist guide to Scottish fishing. You can order the "Fishing in Scotland" brochure here, but for some reason you can't download it.
Fishing in Northern Ireland
- Fishing in Northern Ireland: Official guide from the Northern Ireland tourist board.
- A Selection of Angling Waters in Northern Ireland: Official guide from the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure.
- Where to fish in Northern Ireland?: A directory from The Angling Times.
Fishing in Ireland
- Fishing in Ireland: A complete guide to angling in Ireland: Lots of great information on planning a fishing trip, from Ireland's Central Fisheries Board.
- Shannon Regional Fisheries Board: "A Complete Angling Guide and Fisheries Resource Information to Ireland's Shannon Region". Includes information on planning your fishing holiday online, where to stay, how to buy your rod licence, and a directory of local fishing services (tackle hire, boat shops, ghillies and guides), angling schools, and more.
- Eastern Regional Fisheries Board: Lots of information about fishing on the East coast.
- Where to fish in Ireland?: A directory from The Angling Times.
- Salmon fishing on Ireland's Cork blackwater: A definite and very up-to-date set of pages.
- Fishing Ireland.com: Game and coarse fishing.
- Fishing in East Clare: Official guide from East Clare Tourism.
- Fishing in Meath: A website for people who want to come on fishing holidays to Meath. Includes information about different types of fishing, where to buy your tackle, local fishing guides you can hire, etc.
Fishing in North America
- US Fish and Wildlife Service: Fishing: All you need to know about fishing in the United States, including where to go fishing in a national wildlife refuge, .
- Fishingmap.com: A huge collection of paper fishing maps (for sale) for North American (US and Canadian) inland lakes and rivers.
- Gofish Ontario: Where to fish in Ontario, fishing trips you can hire, and more.
- Fish Ontario: Official info from Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources.
- Fish'n Canada: Tournaments, articles, photo galleries, news, TV shows, and more.
- Fishbase: A huge fish database. (Described as "29600 Species, 222400 Common names, 43600 Pictures, 39200 References, 1410 Collaborators, 25 million Hits/month)".
- Fish species: A huge library of 10,000 photographs of 2000 species of fish.
- Fish identification: A great library of information about 177 common fish species.
- Fish news: Latest fish news from the Environment Agency (England and Wales), browsable by region.
- Identify your fish: A quick photo guide to some common sea fish caught in the UK.
- Fly fishing: Introductory article from Wikipedia. A wide ranging article that covers both the practicalities of fly fishing and the culture.
- Fly gear: A basic introduction to the tackle you'll need to start fly fishing, from the Professional Anglers Association.
- Flyfish.com: The fly fishing resource guide. Includes fishing reports from areas around the United States, shopping links, bulletin-board style forums, and a directory.
- The Fly Fishing Guide: A nicely explained, nicely presented guide to "all things fly fishing".
- Fly Fisherman: A predominantly American guide, includes beginner's guides, maps of fishing areas, fishing reports, gear guides, and quite a bit more.
Magazines and newspapers
- Anglers Mail: fishing weekly.
- Angling Times: fishing weekly.
- Anglers Net: fishing magazine website.
- Fly Fishing and Fly Tying: Unusually for a printed magazine, this one puts a lot of articles onto its website too.
- Fly Fishing Magazines: online home to American Angler, Fly Tyer, and Saltwater Fly Fishing magazines.
- Fine Fishing: fishing magazine website covering fly-fishing, freshwater, and saltwater fishing.
- Sport Fishing: magazine of saltwater fishing.
- The Fly Fisherman: Leading fly fishing magazine.
Organizations and groups you can join
The best place to start is the regularly updated ODP section Recreation: Outdoors: Fishing: Associations and Clubs, which currently lists 163 groups worldwide (though a bit of a mish-mash at the moment).
- Anglers Conservation Association: Using the law to protect rivers for anglers.
- National Federation of Anglers: The National Federation of Anglers is the governing body for freshwater angling in England.
- Professional Association of Anglers (PAA): "...major support organisation for a nationwide network of fully qualified, Government-accredited coaches who themselves recruit and teach thousands of new anglers every year."
- Total Fishing Club: An online angling community that (also organizes events in the real world.
- American Sportfishing Association: "...the sportfishing industry?s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community."
- Carp Anglers Group: "...an organization of avid carp anglers from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and beyond."
Opponents of fishing
We like to include a balance of information on our website, so here are some links to pages and websites by people who find fishing objectionable, offensive, pointless, and cruel. We're not expressing a view here, one way or the other: you can read both sides and make up your own mind.
- Fishing Hurts: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals discuss what they see as the cruelty of commercial and recreational fishing and advocate a vegetarian (fish-free) diet.
- The cruelty of fishing: An argument against fishing from Australian Animal Liberation.
- Pain in fish: This Wikipedia article explores evidence for pain in fish.
- About.com explores the fishing controversy with links that are pro-fishing and other links that are anti-fishing
- Vegetarians do not eat fish: Information from the UK Vegetarian Society.
Rivers and seas can be a sustainable resource—but in too many places they're not at the moment. According to the MSC: "52% of fish stocks are fully exploited, which means that they are being fished at their maximum biological capacity. 24% are over exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. 21% are moderately exploited. Only 3% of the world's fish stocks are underexploited."
- The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat: A book by Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph Environment Editor. The best, quick introduction to overfishing. The book was later made into a film, which you can order from the End of the Line website.
- RSPCA: Under the water: The British animal welfare charity discusses aspects of cruelty in commercial fishing, but doesn't really go into recreational angling.
- Sustainable Fishing and Seafood: According to Environmental Defense, US fisheries are in trouble. Federal scientists report that nearly half of our managed fish populations are struggling for survival, and how others are faring is unknown.
- NRDC Wildlife and Fish: According to NRDC: "In recent years, fish populations around the world, including popular restaurant species, have declined dramatically.".
- WWF: Poorly managed fishing: "Our oceans are being plundered".
- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: "...conserves healthy populations of fish, wildlife and plants, on land and in the sea, through creative and respectful partnerships, sustainable solutions, and better education."
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): Toward a sustainable fishery. Includes fish facts, recipes, and guidance on what and where you can buy "sustainable fish".
- Overfishing: An introduction from Wikipedia.