For anyone starting off fishing, there are some things that you will need to know before you start. It is a good idea to have a few pointers and then you will be sure that you are getting things right. Although you might be interested in equipment, location etc, there are a few things that you need to get sorted out before you even get to this stage. It is important to understand about licensing, seasons and fish welfare so that you know that you will not get into trouble or even get a fine for what you are doing and that you have a respect and understanding of the fish that you will be catching. It might seem a bit dull, you are probably just itching to get started, but it is really important to make sure that you know these basics before you get going.
It is important to be aware of the fact that anyone over the age of 12 years will need a license to fish in most areas. These are easily available to buy and it is well worth it as there are significant fines if you are caught fishing without one. You may think that the risk is low, but if you are caught by a member of an angling club, then they may be inclined to report you to stop you fishing in their area. It is very easy to report illegal fishing activity to the Environment Agency and so people may be inclined to do so. Licences can be easily purchased from a Post Office, by telephone or online and you can buy one for a year or smaller periods of time, even just a day, depending on how often you think that you will be needing it. You may want to use a day licence and borrow some kit for your first time and then if you like it, you may want to buy one that will last longer, with a year licence giving the best value for money if you are intending on fishing regularly. There are also areas that are only allowed to be fished by club members and so you will need to also look into this before you start, which you should be able to do easily online by finding details of your local angling clubs.
There are seasons in fishing and you are not allowed to fish in certain areas at certain times. This generally means that between 15th March and 15th June coarse fishing is not allowed in rivers, streams and drains although it is allowed still in some areas of still water and most canals. It is something that it is worth looking into before you go fishing so that you are completely sure of the rules in the place that you are fishing. The Environment Agency has details on their website and you may also be able to look on the website of your local angling club to find out more too.
It is very important to be aware of the welfare of the fish. Using barbless hooks is the best way to protect the fish and they should all be carefully returned to the water without injury. This means that when you are handling them you need to make sure that you do not remove the slime layer on their scales which protects them from parasites and bacteria or else, they will be vulnerable. So, try to handle them as little as possible and never with a cloth that will rub it off. Unhook them carefully but as quickly as you can and return them to the water quickly too. Never put them down on the ground as this can also rub it off but use an unhooking mat if they are too large to handle. Hold them tightly enough so they do not move or slip out of your hand but not too hard as to squash them. Remove the hooks really carefully. Never pull it as it will cause serious injury but use a disgorger tool to help you. If you cannot remove it then cut the line and leave it in to rust away or dislodge itself. When returning the fish never throw it back but gently slide it into the water from a position close to the surface. If the fish is very tired then it may have trouble swimming when you put it back so gently hold it in the water facing the current and gently move it backwards and forwards until it is ready to swim away.