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Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

Claire D’Orso is still waiting for that “woah” moment – that first tap or slight tug on the end of her line that indicates a fish has decided to inhale her bait.

When it happens, she’ll be ready. She wants to catch her first fish so badly she can barely stand it.

“Any kind of fish is OK by me. I just want to catch any fish,” she said.

Claire, 11, currently lives in Penfield, N.Y., not far from the southern shore of Lake Ontario and not far from the Finger Lakes region that provide endless fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill and experience levels. Her interest in fishing grew recently after witnessing people fishing at a local park.

“I watched them and decided I wanted to try it myself,” she said.

So far, she’s wet a line in Seneca Lake, Lake Ontario along with some smaller creeks and ponds. While she has come up empty on her first few outings, Claire is not giving up.

“I’d like to try all of those again, and maybe also some other areas nearby. It’s fun to explore new places,” she said. “It has been a little frustrating to not catch anything, but I will be patient. It helps that my brother hasn’t caught anything yet, either. I really want to be the first one to catch something.”

Claire and her family used to live on Long Island, but she was too young to experience striper fishing at Montauk or go offshore for tuna. Claire says it doesn’t matter what kind of fish she catches now – she just wants to experience that adrenaline rush and then hopefully do it again.

“When I catch my first fish, I think it will be very exciting,” she said. “But I plan to release it back into the water because I don’t really want to hurt it.”

If you’re a beginner angler like Claire and are anxious on get on board with fishing or if you’re getting back into the sport after years on the sideline, we’ve identified some of fish species that are commonly found and, frankly, a little easier to catch than others.


  • Species: Bluegill, crappie, perch, rock bass
  • Location: Ponds, streams, lakes
  • Lure them in: Just about anything, from live bait (nightcrawlers and crickets) to a small chunk of hot dog rigged on a small hook. Using a bobber is ideal as it keeps the bait suspended.


  • Species: Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted bass
  • Location: Ponds, lakes, rivers
  • Lure them in: Key in on weed beds, docks or submerged logs and overhanging tree limbs near shore. Live bait (crayfish, minnows or nightcrawlers) and a wide variety of artificial baits are great options for bass.

Whatever bites

  • Species: Catfish, carp, trout
  • Location: Ponds, streams, rivers
  • Lure them in: Whether you’re fishing with a bobber and worm or a ball of homemade carp bait, keeping your lure in the water is the key to unlocking the mystery and tapping into the magic of fishing because you never know what’s going to bite or when that “woah” moment is gonna arrive. That next cast could land you and your catch on the brag board at your local bait and tackle shop. 

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