Beginners Guide to fishing these school holidays

The spring Victorian school holidays are just around the corner. The warmer weather is a great excuse to get outdoors, enjoy some fresh air and perhaps take up a new hobby, like fishing! While we may be a little bias, it is one of the best family activities going around. It can be enjoyed by all ages, is a great form of outdoor exercise and can reduce stress while helping you unwind. As an added bonus, if you do catch a feed, you will receive a delicious and nutritious meal that is full of protein.

To help get you started, we’ve put together some of our top fishing tips for beginners.

Before you head out onto the water, you will need to purchase a Recreational Fishing Licence. In Victoria, a licence is required to fish in marine, estuarine and inland waterways. There are a number of options available including 3-day, 28-day, 1-year and 3-year licences allowing you to choose the option which is most suitable. If you purchase your 1-year and 3-year licences online you will also receive a discount.

If you are fishing along the Murray River, you will need a New South Wales recreational fishing licence.

Always put safety first and use common sense while fishing. It is very important to let someone know where you will be fishing, when you plan on returning and who you will be fishing with, just in case something does go wrong. Check the weather forecast before you go so you can be prepared for the elements, you might need a hat, some extra sunscreen or a thicker jacket. This also allows you to check the water conditions, such as tidal and swell conditions, if fishing at the ocean. Life jackets are always a good idea if fishing from a boat and if you are a younger fisho.

Take the time to research the area you plan to go fishing as well as the fish you want to target. Don’t make the mistake of going in unprepared, this can lead to disappointment when you come home empty handed.  Remember, some fish only live in freshwater rivers and lakes and others only live in saltwater. So where you plan to go fishing will impact the type of fish you can target. On the other hand, if you are set on targeting a specific species, that will impact where you choose to fish. Visit your local fishing club or fishing tackle store to get the latest on what’s biting and some handy tips. These days there are plenty of social media accounts and groups devoted to sharing catches and fishing information.

Keen on cod? Lake Eildon is open year round.
Taken to trout? Goulburn River is a great choice.
Sweet on snapper? Western Port and Port Phillip Bay are exceptional areas.

If you are looking for somewhere to go fishing with the family, there are a number of family fishing lakes across Victoria. Prior to the school holidays, these lakes are stocked with ready-to-catch rainbow trout and provide families with an opportunity to easily hook a fish as rainbow trout respond to a variety of baits and lures. For more information on family fishing lakes visit school holiday trout stocking.

Victorian Fisheries Authority have developed a handy Family Fishing Guide with further tips and tricks for fishing in Family Fishing Lakes.

Choosing the right equipment will depend on where you plan to go fishing and what you want to target. Some basic equipment ideas for the tackle box include: A rod and reel, fishing line, hooks, floaters and sinkers, lures and soft plastics, pliers and a filleting knife. Every fish will respond to different equipment and baits. If in doubt, have a chat to your local fishing club, tackle store or someone who is fishing nearby and they can provide some advice on the equipment you will need specific to your local fishing spot and the fish you plan to target. Most local fishers will be happy to share their local knowledge with you.

It’s always a good idea to add in a first aid kit, some extra sunscreen, insect repellent and a torch just in case.

It may seem like common sense but always wear weather appropriate clothing. If it’s a warm day, don’t forget your hat and sunscreen, also pack some extra layers in case there is a change in weather during the afternoon. In winter, warm coats and boots are necessary. Boots are great if you need to walk around in the water.

Fishing can be a great outdoor activity even when you go home without a feed. Many fishers choose to release their catch as opposed to taking it home with them. Fishers also need to release any undersized, protected or unwanted catch back to the water.

If you are planning to release any fish you catch, some key tips to help the post-release survival of the fish include:

  • Minimise the time the fish spends out of the water and use wet hands or gloves when handling the fish.
  • Use circle hooks and artificial lures.
  • Unhook the fish quickly and if the fish is deeply hooked, cut the line close to the mouth of the fish.
  • Use fish-friendly landing nets made from knotless mesh.

Have a camera handy to take a photo of your catch before release.

Fishcare Victoria is a community based not-for-proft organisation promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices. For more family fishing tips visit the Fishcare website.

Most fish species in Victoria have restrictions regarding their capture. This may include size limits, bag and possession limits as well as closed seasons. The Victorian Fisheries Authority have created a handy guide with all Victorian rules for recreational fishers called the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.

VRFish have also developed a Code of Conduct for recreational boat, shore, river, stream and jetty fishers in Victoria.

If you suspect illegal fishing activity, contact the Victorian Fisheries Authority on 13FISH (13 3474).

Watch the video below for Kosta Linardos from Hooked Up Magazine‘s top tips to catch trout.

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