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Fishing on a Budget

Many beginners are surprised to learn that fishing can be a very inexpensive hobby. Equipment to start can cost less than $50, and that upfront investment can give you hundreds of hours of fishing time. As your interest and experience grows, you can get nicer equipment, travel to better spots, and even consider investing in a used boat.

Saving on Fishing Equipment

Fishing SunsetFish on a Poor Man’s Budget: This guide gives you a simple introduction to the equipment you really need to have an enjoyable but inexpensive fishing experience.

Fishing Without Breaking the Bank: Plan around these 3 tips and prepare during each season to save the most money on your fishing hobby.

Get a Fishing License: Learn the fishing regulations for your state and find out if you can get free or reduced-cost licenses.

Top 5 Most Popular Fishing Rods: These five rods are rated at least 4.5 out of 5 stars and all cost less than $70. These are considered “medium range” prices.

Rod and Reel Under $20: Keep an eye out for Zebco and Shakespeare brand fishing rods at places like Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and your local sporting goods store for the best deal.

fishing rodCheap Fishing Gear: These deals include free shipping on a variety of lures, gears, lines, sonar equipment and more.

Taking Care of Your Fishing Rod: Follow these five steps to maintain your rod. Storage is a key component in prolonging the life of your rod.

Spinning Reel Maintenance: Learn how to properly maintain your reels to keep them running smoothly as long as possible.

Renting or Buying a Boat

Rent a BoatRenting versus Buying a Fishing Boat: With a budget, you probably won’t be buying, but this article helps you go over the pros and cons of renting a boat for fishing.

Buying a Fishing Boat: Do your research, set your hard budget, and know where to look to save the most when you decide to buy a boat.

5 Bank Fishing Tips: Consider foregoing a boat altogether and fishing from the shore, which is your cheapest fishing option.

Learning Your Local Fish

Fishing Guides and Charters: Enlist the help of an expert to get you started. Fishing guides can often provide the boat, equipment and knowledge you need to get started fishing on a budget.

Local FishFishing Near Me: Find bodies of water near you. You can also register to see where other members mark their favorite fishing spots.

Places to Fish: Search by state to find fishing spots that are near trails, campgrounds and other outdoor activities.

Best Fishing DaysFishHunter: This free Android and iOS app uses GPS and advanced mapping and charting features as well as a log book to track your catches.

Best Fishing Days in 2015: Learn the best days and times to go fishing to make the most out of each trip you take the time and money to spend.

Saving on Bait

Fishing Bait Guide: Know which bait to use for the fish you are trying to catch, and learn the pros and cons of the different types of lures and baits.

Make Your Own Fish Bait: Use these tips to make your own fish bait. This can be a cheaper option depending on which fish you’re going for.

Catch Your Own Bait: You can catch, or even breed, your own bait to save money on each fishing trip.

BaitHow to Make Fishing Bobbers on the Cheap: This YouTube instructional video walks you through each step of making your own lure from plastic foam.

How to Sharpen a Hook: Avoid having to constantly replace dull or rusty hooks by investing in a simple hook sharpener.

Free Fishing Tackles?: Beware of the “free lure” scams around the web. This article has more information and tells you how to truly get free gear with reward points at sporting goods stores.

Tips for Fishing on a Budget

Safety First

Even if you’re trying to save money, you should never skimp on safety measures, especially for your boat.

fishing safety

  • Use good outdoor shoes or wading boots, never wade alone, and bring a small first aid kit.
  • If you’re near fast-moving or deep water, wear a personal flotation device, even if you’re fishing from the bank.
  • Always look behind and around you before you cast, and avoid leaving tackle on the ground where it can be stepped on.
  • Finally, if you’re not a good swimmer make sure you bring someone who could help you in case of an emergency.

These simple steps can prevent accidents and injuries that could cost you thousands.

Maintain Your Equipment

Read the instructions that come with your fishing rod for information on how to keep your equipment in good condition.

If you buy your equipment from a sporting goods store, ask for a specialist in the fishing department to walk you through basic maintenance.

You can look up YouTube videos on how to clean and change reels, gauge the resilience of your rod, and more.

Keep in mind, though, that your parts need replacement over time. Rods can break no matter how well you maintain them and cheaper reels might go after a few years, depending on how often you use them. Once you’ve established your hobby, it can be worth it to invest in better equipment that will last for decades.

Know Your Local Fish

Before you buy any equipment, determine where you’ll go fishing most often. This could be an area you’re familiar with, where you friends go, or simply what’s closest to your home.

South Carolina Local Fish

From there, learn what fish can be found in that water. You can find out by asking around your local sporting goods store or by using one of the resources listed above. Each species of fish is known to prefer different lures, baits and fishing techniques.

You’ll want to know this information to have the most productive fishing trips. It will also save you from having to purchase too many kinds of lures and bait.

Consider a Fishing Tour

A fishing tour, charter or trip that is run by a fishing guide can be a great investment in the early stages of your new hobby. The experts can tell you everything you need to know, and they’ll often have equipment to rent and a safe, well-maintained boat. A trip can cost around $50 but can run in the hundreds for deep-sea or vacation spot charters.

Fishing Tour

If you’re unsure whether you’ll enjoy or stick with fishing, this is a good option to get started. It’s also a good idea if you’re not familiar with the ecosystem in your area.

Pack a Lunch

Fishing is usually an all-day event, which leaves many needing at least 2 meals. Instead of eating out, bring your own meals and snacks. Make sure the food won’t spoil or bring a cooler. Things like peanut butter sandwiches, apples, nuts, etc., will keep you satiated.

Also make sure to bring plenty of water. Bottled water is cheaper from the grocery store rather than the nearby convenience store, but you can save even more by bringing canteens of your home’s tap water.

Stay Close to Home

Many of our childhood fishing experiences happen at campgrounds or state and national parks, but these aren’t always the most convenient locations.

You may not even know there’s a local fishing hole just miles from your house, so it’s important to do some research. Staying close means saving on transportation and lodging expenses.

Bring a Friend

If you do plan on traveling a good distance or going for an overnight excursion, try to bring as many people as you can to help defray costs for fuel and any lodging you might need.

Make Your Own Lures and Bait

If you have the time, making your own lures can be a fun extension of the fishing experience, especially if you have kids.

Lures and Bait

There are dozens of instructions available online. Most require tools that you may already have, like a drill and super glue, and a few inexpensive bits like paint, plastic eyes, wood and other craft store supplies.

Live bait is another option. You can raise your own worms, crickets, maggots, fish, and other bait. When it comes to raising fish, minnows are usually the cheapest and easiest option. Keep in mind that live bait can require daily maintenance and set-up costs.

Understand License Laws

Your state may require a license for fishing. This depends on what you’re fishing for, what method you’re using, where you’re fishing, etc.

You can purchase licenses on a single-day, week, or annual basis. If you plan on fishing outside of your state, expect to pay a non-resident premium. Your total could be anywhere from $5 for a single day resident to $120 or more for non-resident annual licenses.

However, you can also find ways to save. Most states have free or discounted license fees for military members, veterans, college students, seniors, people with disabilities, and other groups. There are also usually special weekends where you can fish for free.

If you are sticking with your fishing hobby, a lifetime license can also be a good investment.

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