Beginning Fishing with Bertrand
When AFTCO pro Josh Bertrand isn't traveling across the country competing on the Bass Pro Tour, you will likely find him spreading his passion for fishing with others on the same Arizona lakes where he fell in love with the sport of bass fishing. Sharing his knowledge of fishing with others has always been important to Josh and guiding offers the perfect avenue to do just that. Whether you are a seasoned tournament veteran, or an angler just beginning your journey, we can all learn valuable lessons from other fishermen. With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the cancelation of major tournaments across the country, and relegating millions to work from home, fishing license sales have soared in many states. First time anglers and those who have not fished in years are getting out and wetting a line. Getting some sage advice from one of the best young anglers in the business should make your trip that much more enjoyable.
Bertrand's Gear Breakdown
The first fundamental that we all must learn as aspiring anglers is casting. Josh suggests starting off with a good spinning rod and reel combination. Basic fishing combos include a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6- to 10-pound test line for casting 1/16- to 3/4-ounce lures. Utilizing your dominant hand to grip the rod is an essential element of making accurate casts with this combination. Not following this rule of thumb is one of the most common mistakes Josh sees novice anglers making when learning to cast a spinning rod and can lead to arrant casts. He also suggests utilizing a two-handed grip when learning to cast with a spinning rod, as it promotes longer and more accurate casts.
Hooking the line with your forefinger and opening the bail while continuing to hold the line is the next step in making a successful cast. Next, pull the rod back so it rotates over your dominant shoulder, sweeping it forward while pointing it straight towards your target. While bringing the rod forward release the line with your finger, allowing the momentum and weight of your lure to propel the line off your reel. Finally, close the bail of your spinning reel with your hand, instead of utilizing the reel handle to close it. This is not only better on your equipment, but also helps to prevent line twist that often occurs on spinning reels.
Basic fishing combos include a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6- to 10-pound test line for casting 1/16- to 3/4-ounce lures.
As with any other newly learned skill practice makes perfect, and casting is no exception to the rule. Even after thousands of days on the water, Josh still make bad casts every time he goes fishing, so do not get discouraged. Start off fishing in open water areas where you can get comfortable with your equipment, and your casts do not have to be so precise. Once you have mastered your basic cast, you can then start casting towards targets to improve your accuracy. Putting too much pressure on yourself, or someone you are trying to introduce to fishing is never a good thing, so try to have reasonable expectations when it comes to reaching your goals.
When choosing your baits Bertrand leans towards plastics or live bait for beginner fishing trips. Buying a few packs of soft plastics, weights, and hooks is affordable for almost anyone and is also a tried and true method for catching multiple species of fish. If you are going the live bait route it involves a bit more planning and preparation, but often results in more action even under adverse conditions. No matter which one you choose Bertrand recommends only buying enough tackle to fit in a small tackle box or bag to start off with. Keeping the choices simple in the beginning stages of your angling journey is typically the right way to go.
Start 'em Young
For those of you introducing aspiring young anglers to the sport, Josh has some first-hand experience with that as well. His 3-year-old daughter Emma has been accompanying him on some short trips recently, and it has taught him some valuable lessons along the way. Keeping the trips entertaining is a huge part of taking anyone fishing, but especially kids. Bertrand suggests packing plenty of snacks and making sure your young partners are fully protected from the sun as much as possible. AFTCO face masks and sun shirts like the Youth Samurai 2 are great options to help block out those harmful UV rays. Check out this video by another AFTCO Pro Bradley Hallman where he gives tips on bringing kids fishing with his daughter.
Practicing conservation and respecting our natural resources is something that AFTCO is very passionate about. Always practice the "pack in, pack out" method never leaving behind plastic containers or trash, including soft plastic baits and fishing line. Following your state regulations when keeping your catch is paramount to preserving the resource as well. Make sure you are adhering to the size and creel limit if you decide to keep any of your catch. Most of all try to have fun and enjoy your time on the water!