Edited by BR, Krystle, 1guitarhero2, Sondra C and 14 others
If you don't have access to large bodies of water like rivers and lakes, you may still be able to enjoy a fun angling experience in a small, often overlooked stream or creek.
1. Locate a small stream or creek suitable for fishing. You will need to address several considerations in making your choice. Here are a few:
- Is the stream on public property, or do you have permission to fish there?
- How clean is the water? Streams in agricultural or industrial areas may have pollution levels that make the fish unhealthy, or, in extreme cases, poisonous. Ideally, choose streams above the elevation of nearby industry.
- Does the stream have good water flow year round? Some streams only maintain a flow during snowmelt season, or when sufficient rainfall occurs to support them.
- The species of fish you are intending to fish for. Keep in mind, small streams generally don't support large sized specimens of the fish that live in them, due to the limits imposed on this particular environment.
- Use light or ultralight fishing tackle. Small streams are often crystal clear, and you will need a very light monofilament line to keep the fish from being spooked.
- Bait or artificial lures appropriate for the fish you are fishing for.
- Use long shank wire hooks in the smallest size suitable. You will get hung up on snags, and long shank wire hooks will bend, rather than breaking, so they will pull free of the snag. This will save time replacing lost hooks. Another benefit is the ease of getting a long shank hook out of a small fish's mouth.
- Appropriate accessories may include insect repellent, a creel or bucket for the catch, and in some cases, waders to keep your feet dry.
8. Match your technique to the conditions. Small streams in heavy woods will often have brush-cover banks and lots of blown over or washed in trees over the stream bed itself. You may find the only approach to a potential fishing hole is to wade the stream and stand in the current while fishing your chosen spot. Underhanded casting, if using a spinning reel, or flipping, if using a cane pole, can get your bait underneath any but the lowest branches and obstructions.
- Keeping the fish alive for as long as possible ensures they will be fresh when eaten.
- Check for additional regulations such as catch and release only and artificial bait only, which are fairly common in some areas.
- Match the size of your bait and tackle to the size of the fish you expect to catch.
- Catch and release is an excellent way to enjoy fishing while maintaining the natural balance of the stream.
- Check the water conditions prior to setting out on your trip. Muddy water, particularly after a rain, can be stained, and make fishing more difficult.
- Learn what specific fish species inhabit streams in your area, and find out what bag limits, size limits, and restrictions apply to these.
- Look at maps, particularly topographic maps, to locate streams and creeks and suitable access points along them in your area.
- Remove overhead branches or other obstructions from your fishing hole only if you have permission from the landowner or jurisdictional authorities.
- Stand as far as possible up stream from the eddy you are casting into so you don't scare fish.
- Let someone know where you are going, and when you will return.
- In bear country, avoid cleaning fish until you are home or in a safe area. If camping, bury entrails far from camp.
- Be aware of the possibility of flooding if there are rainstorms in your area. Some streams can rise rapidly, even if the rain is not at your location, since rainfall occurring upstream will eventually flow down to you.
- Watch for deep pools, especially if wading with hip or chest waders.
- Some streams and creeks may contain dangerous wildlife, such as alligators and venomous snakes.
- Make sure you have appropriate licenses before going fishing. Some management areas or parks require special permits for recreational activities within their boundaries.
- Be careful walking or climbing on wet surfaces, as these can be very slippery.
- Keep in mind that going to the local store to buy your fish will likely cost you less money even in the short run.