Once upon a time


Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

 I looked back at Klalachef Island and Salisbury Sound as the boat chugged it's way in a westward direction alongside Chichagof Island.  This morning the ocean was pretty good with hardly any wind about, bringing with it only a medium swell from the southwest. The sky was blue and the morning sun was out and I could feel the excitement building in me at the prospect of seeing some new country.  To the west in the distance, I could see the Fairweather Mountains. Goodbye, Sitka! I'll be back, but for now I'm heading west for the summer to fish for the salmon. I felt free and my little boat was taking me to a new adventure. Everything I owned was aboard the boat.  In fact, the boat was my home. It wasn't much but it did have a small cook stove in it and for my bed, I slept up in a little cubby hole under the foredeck. I had no idea where I would end up for the night. It didn't really matter, I'd go until it got dark and then continue the next day to somewhere, but where?   The sun was getting ready to set in the west when I came abreast of Cross Sound. I had heard on the radio about a place called Elfin Cove located in the Cross Sound area that had fuel for sale and I certainly needed some gasoline. My boat only had a twenty five gallon tank and it was about dry. Turning the boat into the sound, I headed in the direction of the cove.  Little did I know that my boat was taking me to a magical world far different from where I came from.

 Ole Jock was doing it again!  He loved his whiskey and once in awhile, he would take a nip or two.  It wouldn't be long and Jock would be doing a Scottish jig on the dock.  He was good and was a true Highlander. The dance was the real deal from the old country and we all enjoyed watching him perform.  It was late afternoon, after the tide had turned and the planks on the dock were still warm from the afternoon sun. Just right for painting some fishing spoons.  The silvers were running through the passes and having the right colored spoon was important, if you were to catch your fair share. Everybody in those days painted their own spoons.   There were no prepainted spoons for sale at the general store; just a flat white, bronze or copper. We had our little jars of paint which held secret, fish catching, magical colors in them.  Some of the fishermen painted their fishing spoons yellow with a fire engine red stripe located in the cup end of the lure. There were orange colored spoons with green dots on them. Each fisherman showed his true artistic self, carefully creating the perfect colored fishing spoon which was supposed to be the cat’s meow for catching fish. I spread some old newspaper out on the dock and lay the fishing spoons side by side on the paper.  Very carefully, I would paint each spoon and then let the new paint dry on them. At times it seemed that one would be out on an art walk going to or from the boat. There were mostly yellow and orange fishing spoons but you would see other colors too. Blue and green, half and half spoons or red dots. They all seemed to work.

There was much to learn when fishing the Cross Sound area.  The North and South Indian passes could be tricky with strong currrents and whirlpools, producing miles of kelp islands and an occasional iceberg from Glacier Bay.  Our little fishing boats were no match for the tidal currents and if you weren't careful, you could be swept away like a fly being flushed down a toilet. One quickly learned how to fish certain drags depending on the tide, ebb or flood.  The summer months of July and August seemed to go on and on. At least it did for me. Early morning would find me heading out with the Black Jack for Three Hill Island or North Pass. Sometimes, I would take a look see at Idaho Inlet. The time you spent fishing a certain area depended on the tide.  When fishing Three Hill Island, it was basically a flood tide show. When the tide changed, most of the boats would head back to the harbor to sell their day's catch, tie up the boat and go get something to eat at Agnes'. It all sounds pretty laid back by today's standards but it wasn't really. By the time you got through fighting a flood tide for six or seven hours and unloading maybe two hundred plus silvers on the fish scow, you would be ready to have some dinner and go to bed.  Each day was pretty much the same for me.

 Uncle Roy is what we called him.  Uncle Roy had the troller the Sandy Andy and was a good fisherman.  He had a cabin up at the end of the bay and could play a pretty mean guitar.  He could sing too. It was always fun to listen to him playing the guitar and singing, and sometimes on those summer evenings we would sit around a bonfire out on the beach and sing songs.  It was a peaceful place to be for me. There were a lot of good people there like Ole Gus and Lovin' Henry along with Crazy Ray and Jock. There was, of course, Agnes and Hazel and so many other characters who lived in the Cove full time.  This was a time before the fishing lodges came. It was also a time before the hippies came, but come they did. The hippies are comin'!! The great wave came along with the drugs and attitudes. The young and not so young bringing with them a new language with every other word the F word.  Their young women would spawn on the beaches and live in teepees. Things were going to change, by god! They did change but not in the way everyone thought. Most of them in time would change into modern day yuppies with big boats and be good fishermen. They just didn't know it yet! The newcomers could not in the end change Alaska.  Alaska changed them!

 The tide would carry me out quickly to the outside of Yakobi Island this morning.  The ocean was glassy calm and looking out towards Cape Spencer, I could see several icebergs grinding their way along the distant shoreline, moving with the current.  I breathed in the fresh sea air and felt the morning sun on my arms and hands. It was time to put the fishing gear in the water. First the deep lines and then the floats.  Finally, the gear was all in. Time for a cup of coffee and then wait and see. Would there be any fish? I listened to the engine running and could hear an occasional seagull crying while diving into the ocean for a herring.  Even if I didn't get a fish, it was going to be a beautiful day. I was free and could go any direction I wanted to go on the compass rose. Suddenly, one of the deep lines started to tug and yard back. FISH ON !! I waited and then all the fishing lines started pulling back.  Guess it’s time to go to work, I thought. The ocean water was crystal clear and as the trolling line came in, I could see down at least four or five fishing lures. Each spoon had a fish on it!! One after another they came. One beautiful silver after another. This is what I was meant to do, at least for now.  I looked up, the icebergs had moved almost out of Cross Sound and in to the ocean. It was very late when I pulled the gear and started running into Bingham Cove where a fish packer was waiting to buy fish. It would be good to get the fish unloaded and get my little boat anchored up for the night. I was pretty hungry as I hadn't anything to eat all day.  Not even a peanut butter sandwich! After unloading my catch for the day on the packer, I moved over next to a kelp patch and dropped the anchor. A sea otter peeked at me from out of the kelp leaves as if to welcome me to this quiet place. Once the boat engine was turned off, all I could hear was the quiet murmur of the ocean swell rising and falling on the rocky shoreline of the cove.  It was time to heat something up on the stove. Coffee and cigarettes were okay all day but a man needed something to eat too. Brown beans were the order for the day with some bread with lots of butter on it. A good healthy meal for a tired fisherman.

P.S.  Icebergs were quite commonly seen in the early sixties.  Mostly, I think they came out of Glacier Bay at that time.  I remember the first time I saw them.  At first, I thought they were big cruise ships.  They were beautiful drifting along in the blue and green ocean waters with the fairweather mountains in the background.

Paul Corbin  




















Upside Down

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

Upside Down

Alaska's weather is often like a woman.  Sometimes calm and peaceful while showing the beauty of the land and sea.  At other times she can change into a furious monster in no more than a blink of the eye.  The fisherman needs to always be always watching for these changes and be prepared for any surprises that the weather chooses to send his way.

In the northern latitudes, the ocean is referred to in the feminine sense; 'she' is calm today or she's getting rougher and looking real bad.  The fisherman also sometimes refers to his boat in the feminine sense.  Anyone in the business of making a living catching salmon always wishes for good weather on the ocean.  A day of flat calm with everything working well, no breakdowns and every line loading up with nice big king salmon is good.

When the weather becomes angry the sea comes to the fisherman in all sorts of moods, bringing high winds and huge waves, often times causing a fishing boat to sink with loss of lives.  The fisherman who finds safe anchorage to ride out the storm feels lucky, even if the storm lasts for days.

It was time to pull the gear and head for the harbor.  The sea was building and coming straight out of the southwest, lumping up and catching the troller on the quarter stern.  Enough of this, the fisherman thought, taglines were breaking and it was hard to keep up a decent trolling speed. He knew of a good harbor which was almost landlocked and figured he would head there and wait it out.  It took a while to get the gear in and by the time the fisherman had finished stowing the fishing lures the lump from the southwest had built up considerably.  He turned the boat towards the distant island where the harbor was and started running in ahead of the building waves.

On the way towards the entrance of the harbor, the fisherman started thinking about what he would do once he was anchored up.  First, he would have to ice down the king salmon which were in the checker on the back deck.  Maybe he would fix himself a little drink while cooking up dinner and then spend some time tying up new leaders and hoochies.  The sharks had been pretty tough on the bait hooks and hoochies in the last few days.  It would be nice to be in the quiet harbor, hearing nothing but the distant rumble of the sea and falling asleep in his bunk.  As the boat drew closer to the harbor entrance he could see white clouds of ocean spray shooting up from the huge black rocks on the beach.

The wave came from far out in the ocean towards the land.  It was traveling fast and building up unbelievable strength as it approached the shallower grounds.  It poked its head out showing its white fangs.  At first, it looked just like the other waves except that it carried with it much more force and speed.  In a matter of a few minutes, it would suddenly find itself in two fathoms of water just at the harbor entrance.  The impact would be like a semi truck hitting a brick wall at 80 miles an hour.  

The fisherman steered his boat past the first of the outer rocks and lined up on the painted markers showing the way to the inner harbor.  It would be nice to get into the harbor and have a drink he thought.  Soon he would be in flat calm protected water.  Focusing on the white markers painted on the distant rocks and looking straight ahead, he never saw looming up behind him, the huge wave.

The wave hit the quarter stern of the troller, lifting the boat up and flipping it over on it's back.  The fisherman suddenly found himself upside down while hanging on to the spokes of the ship's wheel.  At that moment he felt nothing except a quiet calm, his body suspended in space, floating about in slow motion in a dream world he couldn't do anything about.  So this is it! He thought.  I'm going to die!  In the next instant, the troller righted itself, amazingly still moving on its course for the protected harbor.  It was then that the fisherman came back from that unreal world and realized that the engine was still running and he had a chance to make it into the harbor.  He looked out to the back deck and saw that two trolling poles were broken off with trolling pole wire stays and chain dragging along with the boat, dangerously close to getting tangled up in the propeller.  Also, he saw that all the checkerboards were gone, including his salmon and the hatch cover to the ice hold.  It was then that he saw that the hold was half full of seawater.  God knows what was going on in the engine room!  Keep running boat! He thought.  We have to make it in!  

He had made it!  The boat was anchored in the quiet protected harbor, sea pump discharging water out of the hold and engine room.  The back deck was a shambles and broken trolling poles were floating alongside the hull.  Most of his fishing gear had been swept off and would have to be replaced.  There would be a lot of work to do in order to get back into the fishing business.  It could have been a lot worse he thought.  He heard a hello and turning, saw that Big John had rowed over in his skiff from his own boat which was anchored nearby.  "Looks like you might need some help" Big John said.  "I guess I could use some John, thanks".  

In the next day and a half, both men worked cutting new spruce trolling poles, each one 44 feet in length, they then peeled the bark off the poles, dragged them down to the beach and towed the heavy poles out to the boat with Big John's skiff.  Most of the rigging from the broken poles could be salvaged and was put in place on the new poles.  It was a lot of work and couldn't have been done without Big John's help.  Two days later the fisherman was back out on the fishing grounds. The ocean had calmed down and the fish were still biting.

Note: in the above story, I couldn't thank John Clauson enough for his help.  John had many of the tools needed and a light plant used for some of the drill work needed to prepare the poles for mounting on the boat.  Along with his help, he lost valuable fishing time, but he never complained and, as always, kept his good humor.  The event I write about is meant to show the other side of life as a commercial fisherman.  All of us have our stories to tell.  The Helen T was a 45 foot Tacoma Shipyard hull with close to 9 feet of draft.  It was a good boat and I often think that if it had been any other boat it may not have righted itself after being rolled over by the wave.  I'm glad it did because it didn't really feel quiet right steering a boat upside down.  Again, to you John Clauson, may you 'splice the main brace' often in Valhalla my viking freind.



Why is catching an Alaskan Halibut like protocol for a nuclear launch? Over-regulation.

Why is catching an Alaskan Halibut like protocol for a nuclear launch?  Over-regulation.

From Alaska Fish & Wildlife News, 2010:

"A little history is also in order.  The commercial and charter fisheries have been wrangling over halibut allocation since 1993.  The conflict began when the commercial stakeholders asked for a cap on charter harvest, the fastest growing segment of the sport fishery.  The problem was that charter harvest was deducted "off the top" of each year's allowable fishery removals before setting the commercial catch limit, which amounted to a de facto allocation of fish to the charter fishery.  Growth in charter harvest had to be offset by a lowering of the commercial catch limit.  The council struggled with the allocation issue for years before adopting guideline harvest levels, or GHLs, for the charter fishery in the fall of 2003." 

The Mad Monk of Astrolabe

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

The Mad Monk

Old timers have fished for salmon it seems forever.  “Traditional drags,” as the fishermen call them like Astrolabe and Icy Point or Graves Rock were just a few of the favorite fishing spots.  There were so many of them.  Each have their stories such as, “I remember back in '68 when as far as the eye could see fish were jumping.”  In a way, it was like being in the Alaskan Gold Rush.  Fish packers were madly running back and forth with their holds plugged unloading thousands of pounds of Silvers and King Salmon at the cold storages only to turn right around and return to the fishing grounds to buy more fish.  Many of the fishermen preferred to take payment for their fish in cash.  Maybe this way of doing business was a holdover from the great depression or when the banks had crashed, whatever, we all had our money jars to keep the hundred dollar bills in. At night a few of the fishermen would anchor up in a harbor called Thistle Cove.  Thistle Cove was nestled in all by itself between rocky cliffs and the mighty mountains of the Fairweather range on mainland Alaska.  There were sandy beaches surrounding the Cove and if one were to go ashore there, you would see wolf tracks in the sand.  Beachcombing was a favorite thing to do if the weather was to bad to go out fishing and it was not uncommon to find a Japanese glass float peaking out at you half buried in the sand or from under some drift wood.  At night sometimes you could hear the wolves howling and if the fisherman looked up towards the top of the rocky cliffs, he might see the flickering of the fires that came out of the Monk's caves.  Legend has it, that the Monk of Astrolbe lived up there.  It has always been that way and if you were a salmon troller it was easy to believe that this legend was true and that some day, you would get to meet him. 

“The Mad Monk of Astrolabe”

High upon the craggy mountains
That we call Astrolabe,
Where his temple fires are blazing,
With the fog around him ringing
Sunken eyes are ever gazing
Out across the sea.

It was early in September
And the fog was like a shroud,
I was anchored where the ocean
Seemed devoid of any motion
And I somehow got the notion
I was anchored in a cloud.

As the days increased in number
And my magazines were read,
Then my mind began to wander
Crazy notions I would ponder,
Thinking everything was dead.

It was then I heard the chanting,
Stood there trembling, agog,
Like an organ's hollow groaning,
Like the souls in hell atoning,
Down the crevices came moaning
Like a death march through the fog.

Like a lorelei it beckoned
And I hastened to obey,
While across the harbor rowing
Heard the chant in volume growing,
Yes, My Master led the way.

Up through canyons strewn with boulders,
Over ledges dripping slime,
Never with a fear of falling,
Nor of him, whose voice was calling,

Up I climbed to heights appalling,
Dripping bold and black with grime.

On a ledge I lay exhausted,
Gulping every painful breath.
Then I saw his black robe waving,
Saw the bloodless lips whose raving
Sent me scrambling and slaving,
Up that rocky mound of death.

On a crag above a chasm,
Where a flaming tourch was lit,
With the fog around him weaving
Patterns ghastly and deceiving,
Stood the maddened monk, receiving
Tribute for his endless pit.

Single file they passed his station,
Fishermen of yesterday,
Shrunken bodies, white and hairy,
Bent neath loads they scarce could carry,
One by one they passed the quarry,
Dropped their burdens, turned away.

Then I recognized a passer,
Who had died at Killisnoo.
In my eyes the sweat was streaming,
As my questions I was screaming,
Was it all un-holy dreaming
Or were my visions true?

With no sign of recognition,
Came the answer of my friend,
“You must always go cruising
For the leads of life you're losing
Though it be against your choosing,
All must tally in the end.

Round each sunken rock we're searching
For the sinkers we have lost,
Seeking on the ocean's flooring,
Far beneath the breakers roaring,
In the muddy slime we're boring,
In this pit must all be tossed

Best you heed my solemn warning,
Pack your duffle, leave the sea,
Leave your ways of dissipation,
Find a different occupation,
Or you will join that congregation,
On the hill Astrolabe.

The Mad Monk of Astrolabe was written sometime around the early
1950's by Bill Edgecombe.  I'm not absolutely sure about this, just
a guess.

The Astrolabe drag was often fished in the early spring.  In April
there just weren't that many fishermen west of Cape Spencer but the
commercial season was open then and there was always a chance that
there would be a stretch of good weather, making it possible for a
fisherman to make the charge up to the Fairweather grounds and maybe
get a few good days of hot King salmon fishing.  Meanwhile, you fished
Astrolabe or Graves Harbor waiting for a good weather report and
scratched out some kind of a living wage.  Somedays you got nothing,
that was fishing for you.  Other days, you might get a few fish.  I
really needed the money then, especially after spending a long winter
with no money coming in at all.  I remember trolling right alongside
the rocky cliffs of Astrolabe waiting for a fish to bite.  Back and
forth, all day long.  Meanwhile, you could watch the goats who were way
up on the side of the mountain.   Often times there were baby goats
with their mothers.  There were seals and sea lions to see also and
once in a while humpback whales.  Back and forth, back and forth and
then suddenly a trolling pole would start shaking, “Fish On!!!!” With
the Mad Monk of Astrolabe in mind I was careful not to hang up on the
bottom and lose any expensive lead cannonballs.  However, I did lose my
share of them through the years.  The prospects of dying a salmon
troller and having to spend eternity going around the ocean floor
finding lead cannonballs and then having to lug them up those steep
cliffs of Astrolabe to the Mad Monk didn't appeal to me at all.  In
time I retired from fishing and decided to invest what little I had
into Mexico.  It seemed like it might be a more profitable venture than
trolling for salmon, at least for me.  Thats another story however.
Meanwhile, I hope when the day comes that I die, I will be exempt from
having to carry heavy leads from the bottom of the ocean to the top of
Astrolabe.  It looks like a lot of work to me.

By Paul Corbin

Morning Bite

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

Morning Bite

The fisherman could see the mast lights shining from the other trollers still anchored up in the protected harbor on the rugged coast of  southeast Alaska.  Some of the mast lights were moving now, looking like fireflies in the night, flying single file one after another.  It was time to get the fishing gear in.  The fisherman went back to the trolling pit and pulled back the wet gunny sacks that covered coils of 12 to 16 foot long monofilament leaders.  Each leader had a big“snap on” clamp on one end and a flasher or spoon at the other.  He checked the herring bucket to make sure his baited hooks were ready to snap on, one herring for each flasher.  He lifted the first 30 lb. lead ball up from its holder and slowly let the lead down with the hydraulic gurdey.  The lead ball was attached to a spool of steel trolling cable which had small stops crimped on the line every three fathoms.  As the cable descended into the dark ocean water and a crimped stop would appear the fisherman snapped on a leader with a flasher and a herring or a colored hoochey on it.  One by one he got his hooks in the water.  Occasionally the fisherman would check his fathometer to make sure he was staying in the right depth of water.  He repeated this process until he had four trolling lines set in the ocean, each at about 30 fathoms in depth.
He went up to the pilot house and picked up his cold cup of coffee and lit up a cigarette, now it would be time to wait for that first morning bite.  The diesel engine chugged away as the boat worked its way along the shoreline.  It wouldn't be long now before daylight comes he thought.  He looked again at the trolling pole tips, nothing, where in the hell are the fish he thought?  Today it would be a nice ocean, just a gentle swell from the southwest and no wind.  A couple of seagull lifted off the ocean to get out of the trollers' way and set down again just off the boats stern, hoping to get a handout of discarded herring.  Other fishing boats were beginning to arrive on the fishing drag and started to put out their gear.  The ocean was still.  As the fisherman watched the fathometer he suddenly had to turn out to avoid some shallow ground.  No use in losing a line and expensive fishing gear he thought, got to be more careful, come on fish, BITE!!!
The sun was just casting its first morning rays on the calm ocean when the salmon struck the herring.  The trolling pole started to shake as the huge salmon tugged away trying to escape the herring that had the hidden hooks in it.  The fisherman waited awhile before going back to the fishing pit to pull the salmon in.  You could never tell, another one might hit the trolling line and then another, why pull all that gear in for just one fish when instead you could catch three or four in one pull.  He waited and was about to bring in the trolling line which had the fish on when the trolling pole on the opposite side of the boat started to shake.  YES!!!! he thought.  He started to pull in the first line when another trolling line started to yank and pulled way back behind the stern of the troller.  “Holy Shit!!!!” he thought, the bite is on.
By midmorning two fish bins were full of large king salmon.  The deck of the troller was wet with salt water from the wash down hose and blood was flowing out of the boat's scuppers.  The fisherman was getting pretty tired and wanted a cup of hot coffee and a cigarette but knew he couldn't quit working, at least not while the morning bite was on.  He just had to keep pulling in King salmon as long as they were biting.  All day he worked the lines, pulling them in to gaff a salmon and bring it onboard or just to replace old
herring with a new herring and then let the fishing gear back down again. It was almost sunset when he finally pulled in the last of the fishing gear and ran the troller into a nearby harbor for the night.  He still had to ice all the salmon in the ice hold and then maybe rustle up a little something to eat for his dinner before falling into the bunk. It had been a long day and as he laid in his bunk that night drifting off to sleep, he remembered the days when he was attending law school at the university.  I could have gone into law he thought, but somehow this was okay too, and he smiled, thinking that this hadn't been such a bad day at all.

By Paul Corbin

The Blue Light

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!                                        

The Blue Light

The SE Alaskan winters are often long with lots of rain and snow.  There are days when the boat harbors freeze over and even some of the fjords that lead in from the sea.  Nothing moves.  No boats or planes.  Everything is still and silent.  There are no distant sounds of traffic or rumble of freight trains like it is in the cities.  If you step outside, all you will hear is the crunch of your boot in the snow.  The fishermen who live aboard their boats do the best they can to stay warm.  If you are lucky enough to have shore power at the dock and a good oil stove in the galley its not to bad but the lifestyle is not for everyone.  Those that try it beware!!!

At night when you are lying in your bunk you can hear the small fan running that helps the fire pot in the stove generate some heat.  It's sort of like a miniature blast furnace.  The fisherman can also hear the rat-rigging slapping away against the mast directly above his head.  Bang, bang, bang, all night long while the wind whistles through the stays playing all sorts of tunes that seem to be messages from hell.  The boat lurches against the dock and tugs frantically at its mooring lines and the ice up in the rigging keeps crashing down from time to time on the snow covered decks.  The empty whiskey bottle rolls back and forth on the boat's galley floor while you try and get some sleep.  At times you get up from the bunk and check the stove to make sure the fire is still going and pour yourself a cup of two-day old boiled coffee and light up a cigarette.  Another long night in the boat harbor.  The fisherman thinks, "I wish to hell it would hurry up and be daylight".  Winters in SE Alaska are long and hard, especially if you are living in the small space of a fishing boat, like my friend Jack did for many years.

During the daylight hours he might read a book or tie up some fishing leaders. One winter he looked out the pilot house window and saw about six inches of snow on the dock.  There were no footprints anywhere and he turned back to reading his book and lit up one more cigarette and waited.  It won't be long now Jack thought, just a couple more hours and then the blue light will come on.  Everyday he waited for the blue light to come on which is near the top of the ramp that leads up from the docks.  Finally he saw the blue light, a neon 'open' sign in the local liquor store.  He put on a coat, picked up his hat, opened the pilot house door and stepped out on the dock.  The snow was deeper than he thought.  Snow was falling much heavier now and his footprints were fast disappearing as he walked up the ramp toward the lonely blue light that shone out in the cold mist.   I have to be careful not to slip and fall he thought as he slowly made his way up the ramp.  Finally, he reached the door of the liquor store and stood for a moment to brush the snow off his coat and hat.  When he walked into the small room the clerk looked up and said, “You look like a snowman Jack, It's one hell of a storm out there, what can I get you?” “I guess I'll need a bottle of Jim Beam and a six pac of coke”, Jack replied.  “You bought the last bottle of Beam last night Jack.  I'm sorry about that but we haven't had a plane from town for at least two weeks and the fact is I'm running short on everything".  "I have a couple of bottles of Wild Turkey left, It's not that bad really.” The fisherman thought abit and said, "I'll take the two bottles then.”  One never really knew when the next airplane from town would make it out and it might be best to have that extra bottle just in case.  When Jack left the store he saw that the snow was coming down even harder.  By this time it was almost dark again and the blue light glowed across the boardwalk making the snow a beautiful sparkling blue color.  The wind had come up again and as he walked back towards his boat he noticed that the docks were rocking from side to side, making it difficult for him to keep his balance.  Suddenly, one of the bottles slipped out of the paper bag he carried.  As he tried to grab and save the bottle from falling in the water he slipped and fell hard on the edge of the dock. While  Struggling to hold on to the edge of the dock and get back on his feet, he slipped again on the dock and fell into the water.

The water was icy cold.  He set the saved bottle of Wild Turkey  carefully up on the dock.  At least it didn't break, he thought.  The level of the dock was about two feet above the water and when he tried to pull himself up he quickly fell back in.  Alaskan waters are cold and as Jack tried to pull himself up to the safety of the dock he could only lift himself a little ways out of the cold freezing water when he would fall back in again.  His clothes and heavy coat were soaked and his rubber boots were filled with water.  He rested and then tried to lift himself up on the dock once again.  Suddenly he felt very tired.  The water didn't seem so cold now and as he turned his head up he could see the blue light.  It sort of looked pretty all by itself with the snow coming down.  He thought about a Christmas he had spent years ago when he was a little boy.

The next day brought clear cold skys and calm still water.  The harbor master found two bottles of Wild Turkey standing straight up like popcicles in the snow.


Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

The smell of gun oil and the feel of the rifle pressed against my cheek was all I could sense in what was timeless space.  Stay calm, I told myself, safety is off, keep your eye on the back and front sights, whatever you do don’t move.  My finger rested on the trigger waiting for what ever was going to happen.  The bear stood up testing the wind, sniffing this way and then turning his huge head the other way.  He dropped down on all fours and then stood up again looking straight at me.  He was about 30 feet from me and could be on top of me in a leap or two.  I thought to myself, “Dammit!!! don’t do it. Please bear just go away, I don’t want to shoot you”.  The bear was a sleek black brown color and huge.  A beautiful animal who ruled in this part of Southeastern Alaska.  He stood up again sniffing the air, trying to figure out what it was standing in front of him.  I believe this bear probably had never seen a human being before.  Finally, the huge bear dropped down and turned sideways, moving slowly away as he looked back at this strange creature who had appeared in his territory.  He crossed the muskeg and disappeared from view.  After a bit, I decided it was time to return to the cabin; after all, it was almost dinner time and
we had guests to feed.


Oso Pete

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

Oso Pete

I was down in the ground, digging an outhouse hole behind the cabin when I heard a voice above me say, “if you dig any deeper son, you'll hit water.”  Thats when I first met Oso Pete.  Oso was from Norway and years before had boarded a sailing ship as a common seaman.  He jumped ship in Australia and somehow ended up in Alaska.  He knew every block, tackle and sail that existed on a square rigger and even at his age he could tell you what rope or rigging was called or the name of any sail on one of these ships.  Oso lived in a tiny skid house down the beach from me about a mile or so away.  He was a short, squat man with a lined face from many years on the sea and had a good humor about him.  His way of telling stories was funny and it was nice to be able to talk to somebody like Oso after being alone for so long at the cabin.  He told me that he had his mice and chipmunk friends who would come right up in his lap to be fed.  He had a troller and fished for salmon in the summers.  In the winter months he more often than not would take his boat out to a remote hot springs and anchor up in a secret cove well protected from the winter storms.  Most every day would find Oso soaking away in the natural rock pool of the hot springs.  He also drank the mineral water saying it was good for his constitution and told me that I should try it.  I guess I wasn't tough enough as I just couldn't get it down.  Oso lived for many years and was a good friend to everybody that knew him.  I'm not sure how old he was when he passed on but I always felt lucky to know a man from the old world of adventurous spirits and sailing ships which was fast disappearing from the world we live in today.


Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!


   Old Gus lived on his boat and mostly kept to himself.  He was
   getting on in years but still was able to untie his troller from
   the dock and go out and fish in the pass for salmon.  When he got
   tired, he would come back into the harbor, tie up the boat and
   disappear down into the focsle.  Nobody knew much about Gus except
   that he liked to read what books people gave him, and newspapers,
   and old magazines.  Once in awhile,  he would come up to the
   general store to buy a few groceries but that was about it.  There
   was no doubt that Gus was a man of few words.  However, he was
   always polite in greeting somebody on the boardwalk saying not much
   more than a good day with a nod of his shaggy head.  One day Gus
   headed out of the harbor but did not return.  After several days,
   people began to wonder if old Gus was alright and where he might
   be.  For days the other fishermen kept an eye out for the missing
   boat but with no luck.  Several weeks went by but still no sign of
   Gus or his boat.  More time went by until finally one day another
   fisherman spotted the boat anchored up in a remote cove.  The
   fisherman dropped his anchor and rowed in his punt over to Gus's
   boat to see if everything was alright.  When he came alongside, Gus
   stepped out of the pilot house.  The fisherman said,” Gus, are you
   alright?”  Gus replied, “Yaaah, I'm fine.”  Gus then explained why
   he had not returned to the boat harbor.  It seems that he had
   decided to drop his anchor and take a nap for awhile.  It was then,
   after the anchor was down, that Gus discovered a bird’s nest
   directly under the anchor roller on the bow of the boat  As he
   looked into the nest, he saw several tiny birds eggs in it.  It
   wasn't long before the mother bird flew by and landed near the
   nest.  After awhile, Gus decided to spend the night there and see
   what would happen. He knew that if he raised the anchor, there
   would be a good chance of destroying the nest and crushing the tiny
   eggs in it and so when morning came, he decided to stay a while
   longer.  It wasn't long before Gus resolved to wait until the baby
   birds hatched.  This decision would prove to turn out to be a long
   wait.  Ole Gus hardly had any food left or water either but he was
   set on sticking by his decision.  Fortunately, the other fisherman
   who discovered Gus and his boat gave him some food and water before
   returning to the boat harbor.  Word got out about the nest and the
   baby birds that were due to hatch.  Soon, some of the other folks
   of the tiny fishing community would bring food and water to where
   Gus was anchored and look at the eggs.  Everybody, it seemed, was
   waiting for the baby birds to hatch out of those tiny eggs.  The
   day did arrive of course. And Mama bird was busy feeding her young
   babies.  Gus had to wait for the young birds to grow up enough to
   learn how to fly.  He didn't seem to mind though.  The good ladies
   of the fishing community were mother-henning those baby birds
   bringing Gus some pretty nice home made pies and cakes. He probably
   never ate so good or had so much good company in his entire life.

The Salmon

The Salmon

The trolling line was taut and leading away from the boat’s starboard side.  It  was a huge fish and the fisherman tensed up, gripping the gaff hook tighter in his right hand.  This had to be the granddaddy of them all, he thought, as he held the line in his hands.  Gradually he eased the fish closer to the boat hoping to get a clear hit with the back of the gaff hook on the head of the huge fish.

The Fur Coat

Paul Corbin came to Alaska many years ago to commercially fish for salmon.  The lifestyle suited him and he had many boats, caught many fish, raised a family and maintained a wilderness homestead in a remote area of southeast Alaska that would become Lisianski Inlet Lodge.  Here is his story, enjoy!

The old timers have so many stories to tell about the gold mines in Southeastern Alaska when people started coming into the territory from all over the world.  They tell about the fishing communities, the canneries, and the fish traps.  If you go back further in time, you have the Sea Otter trade and the Russians and, of course, the native people who have lived here forever.  

My grandfather spent nine years in the Alaskan gold rush and so when I finally arrived in Alaska I made it my home.  Instead of mining for gold, I became a commercial fisherman, finding gold in the form of huge king salmon.  It was a good time to check out of mainstream America, which I did for several years, and I was lucky to find a good hideout in the Southeast Alaskan Archipelago.  

It was a quiet place and very peaceful.  Flood tide dictated the main fishing time and when the tide started to ebb the fishermen headed back to the cove (Elfin Cove) for the day which often led to plenty of time to paint spoons (fishing lures) on the dock or tie up leaders.  

Agnes, an old retired schoolmarm, owned a small hostel and often cooked meals for fishermen after their long day of trolling for salmon.  She was famous for her cooking and would usually have a home made pie fresh out of the oven.  If Agnes liked you, you got a bigger piece of pie than the other fellow.  Fishermen eyeballed the other mans pie to make sure he got his fair share.  The rest of the world out there did not exist for these people and for awhile at least, it was just like that.  

Along with the small fishing communities, there also were the various fish camps operating during the main summer months.  The fishing fleet had a tendency to migrate to the west, wandering west of Cape Spencer mainly in August to chase silvers.  The smaller trollers day trolled and sold their catch to fish buyers who in turn packed the fish in ice and ran them into towns like Juneau or Sitka and returned with mail, barrel’s of white gas, groceries and fishing gear.  It was possible to spend the entire summer in a fish camp located in a remote cove somewhere on the rugged coast of Southeast Alaska.  

When Fall time came the fishermen started talking about getting the winter's supply of deer meat put up.  There was lots to do what with cutting extra wood for winter and smoking salmon.  The women were busy picking blueberries and making sure that there were enough canned vegetables and fruit and flour for baking bread.  Often the winters were long and cold with lots of snow.  

If you happened to live in a town and cabin fever set in there were always the bars to visit.  They were warm and alcohol was plentiful.  Everybody mostly knew each other and one could sit and excchange fishing stories, or if you knew another person well you might get a different kind of story.... Sven was one of those people and one night he got talking about how he had grown up in Alaska. 


Sven grew up in Sitka.  He was raised by his father and stepmother, Olaf and Lilly.  Olaf had been a sucessful business man involed in fish buying and the brokering of salmon to buyers both in the States and Europe.  His wife had passed on when Sven was a baby.  In time, Olaf met and married Lilly who was a beautiful young woman, half Tlingit and half Russian.  They lived in a house in the village right next to the channel and protected boat harbor.  The couple liked to party and spent most of their time in the local bars leaving Sven to fend for himself.  One day, Lilly saw a beautiful fur coat for sale in the local furrier shop.  Lilly loved that coat and knew she had to have it.  Olaf at that time still had some money even though he was semi-retired and fast trading his business profession over for a good bottle of vodka.  After weeks of badgering from Lilly about buying the coat, Olaf relented and bought the fur coat for $8,000.00.  After a time, Olaf would often bring up the subject of the coat in public, telling how he had bought it for Lilly and how much it cost.  He would also ridicule her about wearing it wherever she went and as his personal finances diminished, he would say, “if you had not made me buy that goddamed thing, we would have that extra money today.”  On and on it went.  One night Olaf and Lilly were out drinking at their favorite bar.  Things were not going too well for them and folks noticed that the couple seemed to spend more and more time arguing with each other.  On this night, Lilly suddenly left the bar around midnight and did not return.

It was a sobering moment the next morning when a police sergeant with a note book stood in Lilly's kitchen by the sink gazing out at the channel through a small open window with the morning sun streaming through it.  He could hear the seagulls on the docks crying away over whatever morning breakfast they could find.  He bent over closer to examine the little pieces of fur scattered around the room and noticed the scizzors on the table.  “She sure did a hell of a job on that fur coat,” he thought, "there wasn't much left of that coat.”  “Hey Pete,” a deputy called, “are you about through in there?”  “Yeah, go ahead and cut her down, Jim.”  He thought to himself, “I've seen some strange things in my years but this beats all, I have never seen anybody cut up a fur coat into thousands of pieces and then hang themselves with a piece of halibut groundline.”  As the sergeant passed the deputy and coroner on their way into the kitchen to let Lilly down from the wood beam he thought about how maybe he should just take the day off and go fishing.  It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day and one might as well take advantage of the weather, we don't get that many nice days up here.

Alaska cut-plug herring tactics, the Texas Twist

The key to the Texas Twist is cutting the herring at almost 90 degrees. Also, the hook should wrap around the backbone and pop out low in the belly on the opposite side. It has a nice quick roll that silver salmon love and will catch kings well too.

I call this the Texas Twist in honor of my good friend Bob Renner who hooked it up by accident and discovered a salmon killer!  This is economical in that it allows use of the head end of the herring as well as the tail, it holds up well underwater (especially if the herring has been salted) and its quick roll requires very little effort.  

Fishing Tips for Beginners (Top 38 Tips)

Saturday morning fishing trips with Dad are as iconic as ballgames and crackerjacks.

The idea of taking a relaxing afternoon to cast your line and catch  some fish is deeply engrained in our culture as a staple past time, and for good reason.

Even for those who do not experience fishing regularly, the itch to get out on the water is still there. But people are held back by a lack of specialized knowledge and experience on how to fish.

We're here to remove this roadblock.

We've created this list to share expert's best tips for beginner fishers. This is taking years worth of experience and condensing it down to a concise list of tips that can teach you everything you need to know.

Denny Corbin, your Alaskan Fishing Expert

Denny Corbin, your Alaskan Fishing Expert

Our hope is that with this information you can get out there fishing in no time and feel confident that you are doing everything just right. After some practice, you will be ready to come fishing in Alaska!

Quick tips for beginners

learning to fish


1. Learn How to CAst

Learn how to cast a spinning rod and a bait caster accurately – most times you'll need to put the bait with in a few feet of the strike zone where a poor casting results in missed opportunities and also lost lures.

When using plastic baits like worms, Senkos or craws, don’t jerk - I see this happen all the time, beginning anglers have a hard time distinguishing between a bite and a snag resulting in the bait moved from the strike zone.

The best way to determine a bite is to hold the rod steady with a little tension and see if there is a pulsation, if so then jerk. When using plastics bass will usually hold on to the bait for a couple seconds – enough time to figure if it’s a fish or a snag.




cheap lures are best


2. Use Cheap Lures to Be Brave

In order to maximize success, never use lures or rigs that you’re afraid to lose while fishing. If you’re fishing lures that you worry about losing, you’ll never put them in danger, where the fish live, and where they can work for you. Cheap lures fished in the right areas work better than expensive lures fished in “safe zones”. 

Kellen Ellis




3. Confidence is Key

My best tip for beginners is in regards to confidence. You should always have 200% confidence in what your throwing, confidence is key to helping someone successfully fishing a new bait. Always think, this next cast I am going to catch that 5 pounder!


Mystery Tackle Box


4. Learn Your Lures

When using a new lure it will take some time to get the hang of it and develop confidence in it. A good way to do this is to go fishing with only that lure. This forces you to use that bait and learn how to work it to catch fish.

kayak fishing


5. Use A Kayak

For new fishermen that want to get out on the water but don't have a boat, try kayak fishing. Kayaks are affordable, light weight, and easy to transport. They also allow you to get in those spots not accessible by foot or power boats that often hold some of the biggest, un-pressured fish! 

Seth Willoughby




6. Be Prepared

The most important tip I can give anyone is to be prepared for anything when going fishing. You never know what the fish are going to do. You never know what lures they want, you never know what the weather is going to do and how its going to affect the fish. The more prepared you are, the better chance you have of being a successful fishermen. 

Marlin LeFever / Owner




7.  Saltwater vs Freshwater

So it is pretty obvious to most, the differences between freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, but there are some scientific points to consider in addition to simply the “Lake vs. Ocean” comparison. 

Freshwater fishing is when a fisherman fishes in a body of water that has less than 0.05% salinity. It is different than saltwater fishing because the species of fish are entirely different. Except some fish like Salmon, who are born in freshwater, spend a few years at sea, and then return to spawn in the same freshwater body of water they were born in. 

One thing to keep in mind is that lakes, like ponds, rivers and all other bodies of water will have creel limits. A creel limit is the amount of fish and/or size of fish you’re allowed to remove from that lake per day. 

If you are like me, and live inland you don’t always get the opportunity to saltwater fish, but the alternative can be just as fun and rewarding! 


8. Freshwater Fishing Tips

  • Map It – When fishing in a freshwater lake or pond you’ll want to get a topographical map of that body of water. This will let you know what and where the different depths of the lake or pond are. Along with that it may also show you locations of sunken man-made fish cribs. 
  • Bait Matters! – The best type of bait is live bait! Worms, minnows, wax worms and soft shell (crayfish) are good ways to start. You will want to use the live bait is best for the species of fish you’re trying to catch. Some other types of live bait that are also used are leeches and frogs or anything else live you think the fish will go for! Artificial bait works also, with the popular options being spinners and crank baits. 
  • Check the Water Temp – The majority of freshwater fish species have specific water temperature and weather that they prefer. The hotter it gets outside the deeper you’ll need to fish. Fish tend to like cool temperatures and will move to deeper, cooler water as the temperature outside rises. During dusk and dawn, fish will come to more shallow water to feed. You’ll want to research the specific fish you’re trying to catch to figure out the best times and water depths to catch them.
  • Keep those hands clean! – When fishing in water with little salinity you’ll really want to make sure you keep your hands clean. Fish have a great sense of smell and any foreign scent on your bait or lures can turn them off. 
  • Other Essentials – Aside from obviously needing a rod and reel, other things that you will eventually need would be a tackle box, needle- nose pliers, a net, and perhaps an ice chest. Also a nice pair of polarized sunglasses will not only block the UV rays from the sun and the sun's glare on the water, but they will help you to see a little better into the water to locate fish. 


9. Safety Information 

  • Safety first! – Growing up in Florida I can say, look out for Gators as tip numero uno! Especially if you are in the south and are using a small boat or canoe. 
  • You always need to have the proper fishing license and/or stamps, if you’re caught fishing without them you could be in hot water.
  • If you are going to wade in a river, pond, or lake make sure to use a wader belt to prevent water from rushing into your waders. If in a boat, grab a life jacket. It is always good to have handy and necessary by law in most places. Lastly, don’t forget to drink plenty of water and apply the sun screen. 

10. Lake Fishing Tips 

  • Inlets and Outlets and Hang out Spots – Like humans, fish like specific temperatures and will generally hang around areas of a lake that they find comfortable. Places where water enters or drains from a lake will generally be much cooler and favorable to fish. Bait fish like to hang around these areas, along with the giant fish that eat them.
  • Find Sunken Junk and Treasures – Fish like to hang around structures that make them feel safe and that provide the opportunity to ambush other fish. Structures such as sunken trees, branches and man made fish habitats are a great place to fish. It’s a safe haven, or so they think… kind of how coral is in saltwater. 
  • The Wind is on Your Side – On days with a strong breeze you can expect the bait fish to get pushed closer to shore, meaning the big fish will come closer to shore to feed. Watch for drift lines and follow them, they will lead to bait fish, which will lead to the big fish you are looking for.
  • Scout for Weeds – A lot of big fish, like northern pike and largemouth bass like to stalk their prey from a nice cozy weed bed. Locate some weed beds in the lake your fishing in and try getting your bait and/or lure in that area to see if you can coax a fish to bite. The weed beds that lead to deeper water and create a break line are the best spots! 


11. Keep it Cheap

Remember, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on fishing gear. Freshwater fishing should be fun, easy, and affordable. About 90% of the tackle on the market is meant to attract the fisherman, not the fish.

Jacki Giardina 



simple fishing gear


12. Keep it Simple

Keep your rig simple and size down tackle to meet your needs. You can’t catch a shark in a 5-acre pond!

Marcos J. De Jesús

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department



13. Practice Your Cast

I would suggest that beginners practice casting before going fishing. This way they are making quality casts on the water and, hopefully, catch quality fish!

Captain Devin



14. "Match the Hatch"

Meaning, your bait should be, or at least mimic (with artificial bait) what the fish are eating. Use baits and lures that look like and are the same size as the naturally found forage in the body of water you are fishing. Live bait always works best.




casting for fly fishing

15. Casting!

Having been a 300 day per year fly fishing guide around the world for many years, and in the fly fishing industry with Sage, RIO and Redington for the past dozen or so years, I would tell you that the most important tip I can offer someone is to learn to cast, and learn to cast well.

While great gear (rod and line) will certainly help one’s cause, it is not a magic bullet, and no substitute for simply becoming a good caster. When learning to cast, learn how to double haul immediately… without learning the double haul, one will always be held back in their casting ability, and in certain situations (the permit, tarpon and bonefish flats), dead in the water right out of the gate.

All that said, being a good caster requires practice, and that practice should be done before you go fishing, when you can concentrate on what is most important at that stage in the game... learning to cast. Once a person becomes a good caster, the rest will fall right into place.

Chris Andersen






16. Use the Right Bait

Be aware of what fish you are trying to catch and what kind of bait attracts them. Catfish, for example, respond to raw chicken liver while bream fish like insects like crickets. The wrong bait could mean a very long unfruitful day, not the way you want to start when embarking on this beautiful endeavor!

Carol Kim


17. Be Aware of the Law

Every state has different rules, laws, and regulations, so make sure to check your local fishing laws in the area you will be fishing. A great way to measure your trophy catch and follow the law is to use a Release Ruler. You can quickly estimate weight of your fish based on length, and safely release it back in the water. 


More info about 20+ species specific Release Rulers can be found at:



River habitat nice and clean


18. Clean Up

The most important thing you can do is remember to take EVERYTHING with you when you leave - every gum wrapper, cigarette butt, bait container, beer can, soda bottle and hook package - that you carried with you. Being respectful of the places you fish, the people that are fishing there and the people that own or maintain the land is the single most important thing you can do.

Tim Surgent




19. Study the Environment

Many beginner river fisherman in seek of trout or salmon (here in Alaska, or anywhere for that matter) tend to focus their attention mainly on selecting the right gear to catch a particular species. Less time is spent on studying the river itself and identifying quality habitat for the species they are targeting. 

Understanding and identifying habitat is key to maximizing your catching experience. Study the biology of a river first and then adapt your fishing methods, gear, etc. second. This is a good approach even for seasoned anglers fishing new river systems. 

Over time, you will develop this uncanny talent to think like a fish and read water and identifying fish holding spots. You will also develop an appreciation for the dynamic environment that is a river or stream.



20. Use the Right Knot for Your Line

Here is a knot tying tip that will help all anglers; with braided line, the best knot to use is a palomar knot. With fluorocarbon, a palomar is the worst knot you can tie because it burns itself as it cinches down and will break easily. Use an improved clinch knot with fluorocarbon. With monofilament, you can use either knot.

palomar knot

Jay Yelas

C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation



21. Learn the Top Water Bite

For bass fishing, learn the art of the early morning top water bite. It’s one of the most exciting bites in the sport. Set yourself up with a classic top water bait like a Zara Spook or Pop R and remember to set the hook down. A ton of top water fish are missed by inexperienced anglers yanking the lure straight into the sky when they see a fish crash through the surface for it.

Joe Sills 



22. Trust the Locals

Always ask locals what is biting and what type of bait to use and keep your lines tight.




patient with fishing


23. Take it Slow

On my boat the most common mistake I see beginners make all the time is going too fast. They make a great cast and seem to be in such a hurry to cast to another likely spot they retrieve there lure way too fast. They also can't seem to wait to get to the next spot instead of thoroughly picking apart the area they are in.

My tip would be don't rush, slow down everything you are doing. Pay attention to every little detail that may lead you to fish.

Capt Ed Zyak

Doa Lures


24. Use a Multi-Purpose Lure

One of the most durable and multi-purpose lures on the market, the StingRay Grub® from Mann’s catches all fish species and under all types of conditions. No other soft plastic bait produces a more erratic or natural swimming motion, depending on the type of rigging and retrieve. 

For fish busting the surface, cast it out and hold the rod tip up letting it break the surface of the water. This method of keeping the bait high also works when casting over weed lines or exposed stumps or tree tops. Although not weedless, it is very difficult to snag the StingRay Grub during retrieve. 

The lure darts and dives based on retrieval speed and the raising and lowering of the rod tip. Rip it off the bottom with quick, steady retrieves. Slowly bounce it on the bottom. Vertically jig it in deeper water. You can fish the StingRay Grub nearly any way you choose and consistently limit out on fish.

Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted bass love it, as do speckled trout, redfish, and walleye, pike, even big slab crappie. Strike very quickly as the fish usually hits this bait on the downfall. The grub is also very effective at hopping over lily pads with no weight a weedless hook setup.

Mann’s Bait Company

StingRay Grub®



25. Use Al's Goldfish for Trout

Casting spoons like the Al's Goldfish are great for youth anglers. They are very simple to use and very effective. Simply cast, let drop a couple seconds and retrieve. That's it. The Goldfish in particular is great because while it's great for trout, it will catch pretty much any fish species because it looks like a swimming minnow. The lure became wildly popular in the 50's and 60's with baby boomer due to ease of use and effectiveness.

You can see it in action here: 




26. Stay Calm and Keep Your Tip Up

I can think of a bunch of tips from my experience dealing with customers who don’t fish very often, are very excited when they catch a fish and inadvertently screw up the processI try to be cool and understanding but occasionally I develop a small facial twitch when an especially nice fish is lost.

One such event I am reminded of was a few weeks back, fishing had been a little slow due to weather and we were working hard for our fish. I had decided to troll for king salmon at the water fall across from Pelican at tide change high water slack and we quickly picked up a nice 25 pound king salmon, the guy fought it for a while and was doing very well, brought it up the back of the boat and I very nearly had it netted when the salmon made that “one more run”. 

At that point the guy fighting the fish dropped the tip of the rod and pointed the fishing pole directly at the fish. When he did this several things happened; he effectively gave up the advantage of having a fishing pole as there was no “bend” or flexibility to take up the shock and force of the salmon’s momentum. As the fish was very close the line was shorter and so had less % of stretch available than if it had been longer, say 100 yards vs. 10 yards and a 3% stretch in the line would mean you have significantly less ability to absorb the shock of a large pissed off king salmon making a sudden run a 30 miles an hour! 

Needless to say the line quickly stretched to the limit and snapped like a gunshot right at the reel. The fisherman had a very sad look suddenly as he realized what he had done. My comment to this man was, “Well, there’s one fish that you will remember forever, late at night as you are trying to go to sleep.” 

And that is likely the truth, sometimes the ones that get away are more valuable over the long term than the ones that end up on the dinner plate as, if you are like me you will always think back to that fish over and over and wonder how big it was and what you could have done different.

Denny Corbin



27. Wear Sunglasses

My best tip for beginner anglers, especially children, is to always wear sunglasses. Safety first – you never know where those hooks can end up!

Patrick Walsh

Outdoor Canada


tackle box of fishing gear


28. Mystic Fly Rod Tip

When choosing a fly rod, choose the rod that is right for you. Do not buy a rod because your buddy has one and likes it or because you read a review where a single person rated the rod high on the performance scale or because it was advertised on the back cover of your favorite fly fishing magazine. 

Buy the rod that fits your casting stroke or style. Buy it because you cast the rod and it feels good to you. That is why fly shops allow you to take the rod outside of the shop and put it through a couple of exercises. In the long run, you will be happy with your purchase and it will make you a better fisherman.

Dennis Klein

Mystic Fly Rods



29. Set Your Expectations

As a beginner fisherman, you've got to set your expectations correctly and understand that fishing is a patience game. Just go out there and enjoy being in nature! As you gain more experience, you'll learn to select the right lures and bait for your target fish/location. Having a fish finder certainly helps too!

Shabbir Nooruddin 




30. Stay Within Your Budget

Choose the best gear you can afford. You usually get what you pay for, but don't worry that you don't have the most expensive gear today.

 Curtis Fry



catching fish


31. Don't Crank to the Tip

The most coming mistake rookie anglers make is cranking a caught fish to the tip of the rod. Why is this bad?

  • If it is a big fish, there is no where for the fish to go. It's fighting the rod tip and the lines strength only. By stop cranking the reel with a rods length of line still out the working angle of the rod is engaged. The fish fights the flexing action of the rod and there is enough line for the fish to swim around and tire.
  • When the fish is hanging at the tip of the rod you must put the rod down to unhook the fish. That's down in the bottom of the boat, sandy beach, weeds and muck or into the water if you are wading. 
  • With a rods worth of line out, all you have to do is lift the rod up like the boom of a crane and swing the fish into your other hand and then slide the rod under your arm while you work with unhooking the fish.
  • When you are trying to unhook a fish at the tip of the rod you end up fighting the rods flexing strength and the flopping fish... and the hook may end up in you. With a rods worth of line out none of this happens.





32. Learn the Basics and Catch a Fish

Here is my best advice for beginning anglers. It seems that everyone talks about catching more and bigger fish, but the truth is that before any angler can become the best, they need to learn how to catch the first one. 

One of the best anglers in the history of bass fishing, Larry Nixon, said that the most important thing that he learned from his father was to "just get a bite." An angler will be better served by learning the basics of fishing than trying to go out and throw the biggest swim baits or the most complex technique to try and be the guy who caught the biggest fish on their first outing.

What any angler who wants to improve is to start at the beginning. Learn the proper casting technique and learn how your equipment feels. Then, go to the most likely, fishy looking spot on the body of water you are fishing and just try to get a bite. It is impossible to learn without getting some feedback from the fish, and the smallest fish can often be the one that gives up a lot of clues about his bigger relatives. 

So, don't discount small fish and try to learn from every bite you get. Think to yourself after every fish; where was that fish, what kind of object was it holding on, how deep was it, how was I moving the lure or bait. 

Asking yourself those questions, and being able to give yourself an answer are keys to help you duplicate what you were doing and you can begin to catch more and get better. 

Dan O'Sullivan



clean fly lines


33. Clean Fly Lines

New appropriately matched fly line for you rod is the best help a beginner can find. Not old, used up fly lines that do not encourage growth. The fly line is the most important part of the entire equation. Rod, reel and fly line. It is the vehicle that delivers the fly to the target. Clean the fly line daily for ultimate performance.

Mark Raisler

Headhunters Fly Shop & Guide Service



34. Fish Smart

When fishing in saltwater, fish peak tidal flows for the best action. Also, watch the weather; fish will feed more on a falling barometer as fronts approach rather than following a front when high pressure settles in.

Capt. Rick Grassett

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.




(941) 923-7799


fly fishing guide


35. Learn Tricks and Hire a Guide

First thing is to be patient and willing to learn any tricks. Little things matter. Next is to go out with someone experienced or hire a good reputable guide.



36. Hire an Experienced Guide

If you are new to fishing, it's great to go with a guide who knows the area and has equipment you can use. I recently tried fishing for the first time in Maine and hired a Maine Guide to take me out and teach me about casting and where to find the fish - and also learn about the area. It was a great choice and made the whole experience that much more enjoyable as I had someone to ask questions, and get my line untangled!

Sherry Ott 




37. Visualize the Strike

My number one tip for beginners would be to always visualize the strike so that you have your fundamentals down. Keep your rod tip where it needs to be for setting the hook. Always think about the bite so that your response is automatic and fundamentally sound. So often, beginning anglers have poor fundamentals where they miss opportunities because they simply are not ready. 

Jason Mitchell



big fish fishing


38. Stay Quiet

If your searching for big fish do it as quietly as possible. Big fish didn't get that way by accident. Fish can hear extremely well, and it's been proven that they can communicate with each other to find each other or hunt together. They also can tell people or boat noise from food.

I caught the World Record striped bass by replicating the sound of lobster, one of there favorite foods. I put this sound that they listen for inside my sinkers, to attract the biggest ones. So I can't stress enough the quiet approach the stealthy approach to fishing will be the best. If your going to make noise, make it something that attracts them. 

Greg Myerson


It will take time to fully absorb and implement everything in this list, but practicing is half of the fun!

Good luck and don't forget to enjoy your time out on the water.