Pick a fish to target and build from there
The hardest question for me to answer so far has been “what are you fishing for?” Those doing the asking don’t expect answers like “relaxation, fun, outdoor adventure...” and so on. They mean “what species do you want to catch?” From my perspective, the better question is “where will you be fishing?” which to some degree answers the species question. If the answer is “from a dock on a fresh water lake in Central Florida” then the species of interest is logically bass.
I don’t know much about fish species, and I certainly don’t know which species “count” as sport fishing fun. Maybe it’s easier in other areas where the options are more limited, but not so in Florida. I have found that the discussion of species grows in complexity when considering geographic location, time of year, water temperature, water salinity, moon phase and astrological fish sign, among others.
My struggle with the species-target concept is perhaps tied to my prior understanding of what fishing was all about – long lazy nap-filled days with night crawlers on a hook below a little red and white bobber.
Seems like a much simpler and cheaper way to go. I’m also not a marine biologist, so fish habitats, species names and species identifications are not rolling off the tip of my tongue, nor are they built into my DNA like they seem to be for some folks.
A good idea for a beginner like me is to pick one or two species and try to focus. After some experience and luck more species and more variables can be added to the repertoire. I have chosen freshwater largemouth bass and inshore saltwater red fish and sea trout. Anything else I might catch along the way will be a bonus experience. Why these species you ask? My two most frequently visited fishing locations will be freshwater lakes (Butler Chain of Lakes accessed from Orange County Sportsman’s Association), and brackish water lagoons on the Atlantic side (Mosquito Lagoon accessed from the Canaveral National Seashore). Bass and red fish are both desirable sport fishing targets. Both of my primary fishing spots can be seen on this interactive Google Map. Click on the top right button to expand the map and get a better view.
With those species and locations in mind I have successfully reduced the tackle shopping options to only about 10 million different choices!