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Idaho Fish and Game

Fishing Basics

Whether you are brand new to fishing or need to brush up on your fishing skills, you've come to the right place. With a little planning, your fishing trip will be more enjoyable. With practice and a little patience you could soon find yourself a new life-time activity that you can pass along to your friends and family.

Good fishing is available across Idaho, but some spots are better for beginners and kids. The Angler Guide to the Gem State contains info and locations for smaller lakes and ponds close to you. Many of these waters are stocked with trout or have easy-to-catch bluegill lurking in the shallows. Many have picnic or park facilities, nature trails or other attractions nearby to enhance your outing.


For fishing from the shoreline, we recommend starting with a simple 5 to 6 foot rod and reel combination with four to eight pound monofilament fishing line. A closed-faced reel with a thumb button to release and stop the line is easy to use and this simple hook, weight and bobber setup is ideal for a beginner.

Young Fisherman with Catfish

Fishing Supplies You'll Need
  • Pliers for retrieving hooks out of your fish.
  • Stringer or bucket of water to keep your fish cold and fresh.
  • A knife to clean your fish.
  • A ruler to measure your fish.
  • Fingernail clippers for clipping line.
  • Cooler with ice to keep fish cold when transporting.
Know Your Knots

Without a good knot you could lose your gear or your fish.


The simple Clinch knot is a good knot for beginning anglers. It is strong and easy to learn. Standing line is blue, tag end is yellow.

  1. Pass line through the eye of the hook.
  2. Make five turns around the standing end of the line.
  3. Pass the tag end through the "tear drop" loop above the eye.
  4. Pass the tag end through the "big loop".
  5. Moisten line and pull knot tight against the eye. Clip tag end.

You've Landed a Fish - Now what?
  • Catch and Keep: Make sure your fish stays cool from the moment you take it off your hook. Clean your fish the day you catch it. Eat it within a couple days or freeze your fish to ensure freshness. Tip: Freeze cleaned fish in Ziploc bags filled with water to avoid freezer burn.
  • Catch and Release: Land the fish quickly and leave it in the water. With wet hands gently hold the trout and remove the hook from the jaw or if the hook was swallowed cut the line as close to the hook as possible - the hook will dissolve in a few weeks. Barbless hooks are recommended.
  • Video: How to Clean a Fish
  • Video: How to Fillet a Fish
  • Video: How to Fish for Kokanee
Remember to . . .
Sport Fish Restoration Program
  • Check the current fishing seasons and rules.
  • Pick up after yourself. Try to leave a fishing site cleaner than you found it.
  • Respect other people's fishing space.
  • Do not use live fish for bait.
  • Do not transport live fish.
Last Updated: July 21, 2015 
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