What is Freshwater Fishing?

Salmon can be found in both in freshwater and saltwater.
Fish found in freshwater bodies of water have low or no salt content.
Lakes have freshwater fish.
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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 July 2014
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Freshwater fishing is one of the two major fishing disciplines, the other being saltwater fishing. It is done in lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies of water that are generally considered to contain freshwater. In other words, the water has an extremely low salt content, or no salt content at all and are suitable for species of fish generally found in freshwater.

in some cases, where ocean water and freshwater start to mix, which is known as brackish water, there could be situations where both saltwater and freshwater species of fish can be found together. This is especially true for species of fish that can tolerate less salty, or more salty, conditions very well. In general it is deemed freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing based on the species sought by the angler. It is conceivable that both disciplines could be practiced in the same water.

The most commonly-sought species when fishing in freshwater are bass, crappie, walleye, northern pike and various species of trout. Salmon is another popular species that lives in both salt and freshwater. It is fished commercially, most often, in salt water. However, its attraction for recreational anglers usually comes though freshwater fishing.

While there may not be as much freshwater as saltwater on Earth, many anglers spend most of their time engaging in freshwater fishing. This may be because they appreciate the freshwater fish species more, or because they simply do not have immediate access to a nearby ocean. Many enjoy freshwater fishing as a sport fishing activity.


Freshwater fishing can be done in a number of different ways. It can be done from shore, or in a water craft. Some choose to wade mountain streams. Others choose to fish from a bridge. Still others, especially in northern climates, are prepared to wait until lakes and rivers ice over and try their luck at ice fishing.

Most freshwater fishing is done with a pole, line and hook, though these also vary widely. Some prefer a close-faced reel, with a push button to release the line. Others prefer open faced reels, where a bell is flipped to release line. There are also casting reels and fly fishing reels, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Nets can also be used, but some jurisdictions place restrictions on taking certain freshwater species with nets.

Bait choices also run the gambit and depend largely on the type of fish being sought. Predatory fish will hit on live bait, cut bait, or artificial bait, also known as lures. Often, choosing the proper bait will take some trial and error. However, each fish has its own preferences, and conditions also play a major role in the choices.


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