June 23, 2021
I’ll admit I’m spoiled in that the region in which I live offers some of the best year-round freshwater fishing opportunities anywhere in the United States. Western New York is home to the eastern basin of Lake Erie, the upper and lower Niagara River, the latter of which empties into another Great Lake (Ontario), not to mention the countless tributaries, mountain streams and natural lakes that dot the map.
The menu of options and species available to anglers around here is astounding. While some species are best pursued by boat, allowing anglers to get offshore and target fish in deeper water, there is a bevy of shore fishing opportunities to take advantage of.
For many years, I studied online maps to find different access points in my area. From urban ponds to rural creeks, I’ve sampled just about every option at my disposal. I have my favorites for sure, but any time spent casting to a fallen tree wedged against a stream bank is time well spent in my book.
While I would relish the opportunity to fish with friends who owned boats, I preferred utilizing foot power over horsepower. Shore fishing, I found, is one of the best ways to connect with our natural resources. It’s cathartic, relaxing and it offers the opportunity to explore and discover more about the ecosystems on the way to the water's edge, not to mention having the ability to access water that boat-bound anglers can’t get to.
As an angler, it also taught me to home in on certain techniques and baits since you don’t need to carry a wide array of gear with you along shore. It’s also an awesome way to get someone else on board with the sport.
Here are five tips to ensure your next (or first) shore fishing trip will be a successful one:
- Keep it simple – Take two rods at the most; pack a light meal, snacks and drinks in a small cooler, which can double as a tackle box; consider a Ziploc bag to carry tackle separately; keep tackle choices simple – bobber/worm, baitkeeper hooks, jigheads, small floating topwater baits, in-line spinners; don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen.
- Seek out safe access points – Park ponds with landscaped banks are ideal, but there are other honey holes that might require a little more work to reach. Most state DNR websites offer information about public fishing access spots and the Takemefishing.org website is a great resource to locate places to wet a line.
- Timing it right – Typically, the fish bite better in the early morning hours or toward dusk; if kids are involved, you want to maximize opportunities for success so plan accordingly.
- Carry in/Carry out – Part of being a shore angler is being responsible. Don’t leave behind lure packaging or bait containers. If you brought it with you, take it with you. Leave the spots as you found them.
- Bring a friend or family member – Some of my favorite memories of fishing are ones where I’ve taken friends, who were inexperienced anglers along, and watched them land their first fish.