St. Croix River walleye
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Fishing Advice for Beginners
Like so many hobbies, fishing can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.
Success is defined by the angler. Some fishermen are content with a simple rod and reel. They are happy to sit on shore and drop a plain hook and worm into the water while they relax and enjoy the scenery. Others invest thousands of dollars in a boat, electronics, high-quality rods and an arsenal of artificial baits. The most serious anglers won't stop until they catch their limit. A few are not fulfilled until they have a 10-lb. walleye mount displayed over their fireplace.
No matter where you are on this spectrum, the common theme is relaxation and enjoyment. Freshwater fishing provides the opportunity to remove yourself from a busy schedule and reconnect with the outdoor world. It's a wholesome activity for youngsters. It's also a good way to spend time with your family, or share stories and friendly banter with old friends.
If you're a beginner, keep it simple.
Most anglers begin with a simple setup — a worm and a hook. It's probably the most productive all-purpose offering you can present. Walleye and smallmouth bass love to eat large, plump worms commonly known as night crawlers. Smaller fish like garden worms. Kids will have a great time catching everything from bluegills to freshwater drum (sheephead), which will eagerly devour these wriggly critters.
Try to make the worm appear as natural as possible. Poke the tip of the hook through the nose of the worm and "thread" it on to the shank of the hook. Allow the body of the worm to dangle below the hook. The worm will wriggle and squirm, which is irresistable to most fish. Position and crimp a couple of small split shot sinkers on your line a foot or two above the hook.
You'll have the best chance of catching fish if you let your worm sit on the bottom of the river. That's right... you'll probably catch more fish on the St. Croix River if you leave your bobbers in your tacklebox. Most of the best-eating fish are found cruising near the bottom, and they'll gobble up and fat worm if it's presented properly.
If the water is deep or the current is swift, add sinkers to keep the bait on the bottom. You'll know when you're in the strike zone when your line stops moving. Let it sit, or give it a twitch once in a while. Every few minutes, inspect your bait to make sure it's still "looking good". When you feel a fish bite (a subtle "tap, tap" on your line), pull up the slack and lift the rod tip quickly. This is called "setting the hook". This action will drive the point of the hook into the side of the fish's mouth, and you can begin reeling it in.
split shot rig
Catch some fish on worms, and you'll be ready to try more sophisticated techniques.
Minnows and leeches are also on the menu for many game fish of the St. Croix River. Artificial baits can also be very productive. Watch for more articles, including trolling, jigging, and other live bait rigs.
You can improve your chances for success by following these three steps:
Go where the fish are.
 
Offer them what they like to eat.
 
Adjust your offering
until they bite.
What type of fish do you want to catch? Get acquainted with fish species. It's important to understand that you probably won't catch a lunker walleye near the source of the St. Croix River. You won't catch a trout in the Lower St. Croix River, either. Before you venture out, talk to the locals, or contact a fishing guide. Information is the key to success. The fish you seek are often located in 10% of the water in the river. They will be found where their food is plentiful and the conditions are favorable (temperature, depth and current).   Almost every species of fish will bite on a garden worm or night crawler. Walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass, crappie, white bass, northern pike and muskie often favor minnows, or artificial baits that imitate them. Leeches are also used to catch walleye, sauger or smallmouth bass. If you don't want to use live bait, visit the sporting goods department of a local retailer. You'll find countless baits that won't spoil in the sun or die on your hook.   You found the right spot, and you have the right bait. You see other fisherman catching fish, but there's no action for you. Consider changing your tactics. If you are fishing in shallow water, move to deeper water, or vice versa. Are you working your bait near the surface? Move it toward the bottom. Is your bait sitting still? Try twitching it a little. Don't be afraid to ask another fisherman what's working. If you approach with a friendly tone, or begin the conversation with a compliment (e.g., “That was a nice fish...”). Most anglers are willing to share a few tips.
“Fisherman's luck” is what occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Spend some time getting ready before you head to the river. Be patient... be positive... relax and enjoy your time on the water. If fishing is slow, focus on the scenery or wildlife. Enjoy the sunshine, or the warm breeze on your cheek. Ahhh... that's the good stuff!
 
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