Lake Fishing Tips – How to Catch Fish in a Lake

Welcome to our section on Lake Fishing Tips for Beginners. In this guide, we have shared some very useful Lake Fishing Tips and Techniques to help you learn How to Catch Fish in a Lake.

You may be wondering what techniques people use to catch fish in such extensive water bodies. I will say that lake fishing is both an art and a science. Lake Fishing Tips & Techniques which I will cover in this guide:

  • Different Lake Fishing Techniques
  • How to Find Lake Fishing Hotspots
  • How to Choose the Right Lake Fishing Baits
  • Lake Fishing Tips for Different Seasons
  • Lake Fishing Tips for Beginners

Let us dive into our first section.

How to Catch Fish in a Lake


First, let us describe some of the methods that you might employ in fishing. As a beginner, you will most likely use the method known as “Angling,” when you use a hook attached to a line to catch fish.

The hook is normally attached to some type of sinker, which takes the hook to the bottom of the lake. This method has been used for thousands of years. The hook is usually baited with lures to attract the fish.

The fishing line will, in most cases, be attached to a fishing rod. This helps to deliver the line. Rods are fitted with a reel onto which you wind the fishing line. The line can also be delivered using fishing kites or remote-controlled devices.

Native lake fish species include walleye, Northern pike, sunfish, crappie, muskie, catfish, yellow perch, and certain trout. You need to pick the rod and reel accordingly. If you are looking for a spinning rod, then you can check out the Best Walleye Fishing Rods. This can help you pick a quality rod suitable for fishing in lakes.

You will also need a floater to help you set the line. Floaters may be made of cork, porcupine quill, balsa wood, or hollow plastic. The distance between the hook and the floater will depend on the depth at which you want to fish.

If you want to fish from the bottom of the lake, you first attach the sinker to your line and drop it until it hits the bottom. Slightly raise the line, about a foot, and then attach the float. This way you are sure that the hook is near the bottom of the lake.

Still Fishing

Once you have your fishing gear ready, you will need a boat or a fishing kayak to travel some distance from the shore because you will not always find fish near the shore. One good method is to anchor the boat at some favorable spot and cast the line. This is called Still fishing, though.


Another simple technique you can employ is Trolling. This method is when you fish from a slowly moving boat. Place your fishing rod on the stern of the boat and hold it at an approximate angle of 45 degrees. You can use trolling reels or baitcasters. If you are planning to use baitcasters then you can pick one of the Best Baitcasting Reels Under $100. The bait should be trailed at a distance of about fifty to seventy feet behind the boat.

How to Find the Lake Fishing Hot Spots

One of our most popular lake fishing tips is to find the best spot for fishing in a lake. As you probably know, certain areas of lakes have more fish than in other areas. You will certainly not want to fish in a dry area. So, what makes an area a hot spot?

A bit of science here: Fish, like other wild creatures, have an instinct for self- preservation. They need to hide from natural enemies. They do this by developing a color that blends well with the background against which they swim. The background thus acts as a cover against predators.

This camouflage goes a long way in creating habits for the fish. As the fish age, they develop a pattern of feeding, which does not change much. Thus, when you find an abundance of fish at some spot, you are most likely to find them at the same spot the next time you go fishing.

Also, note that different fish have different preferences about the conditions under which they like to live. For instance, you are unlikely to catch bass fish in at the same spot as lake trout. Therefore, it would be prudent to look for a specific type of fish in the places they are known to inhabit.

A good place to start fishing would be near the inlet or outlet of the lake. The temperatures around these areas are cooler and favorable to fish. You will find plenty of baitfish here, along with the big fish that eat them.

Also, consider drop-offs and ledges. The water around these features is normally deeper and cooler. Drop-offs are preferable to places where the gradient is gentler.

Avoid any sheer cliff or bank that plunges straight down into deep water. These do not provide any structure in which fish can take cover. The same is the case with a bank that slopes gradually towards deeper water.

How to Choose the Lake Fishing Baits

Basically, bait is used to attract the fish. Bait is attached to the hook in such a manner that the fish get hooked after swallowing the bait.

Natural Baits: I would highly recommend using natural baits for catching fish. These include crickets, minnows, worms, and leeches. They can be bought from nearby tackle dealers at a fair price. Fish also prefer certain bait at certain times of the year. For instance, bass like crawfish early in the year and shad during the summer and fall.

Artificial Lures: If you must use artificial lures, I would recommend fishing jigs. A jig consists of a lead sinker to which a hook is molded. It is covered by a soft body that attracts fish. You will need to use a rod that can easily notify you of a strike. Move the jig in a jerky, vertical motion.

Jigs come in different colors and shapes. You would probably want to try out the round head. Others are fish-head shaped or cone-shaped. Jigheads also come in different weights. Choose the right weight, depending on the fish you want to catch.

I would recommend a red jig head. This has the effect of fooling a fish that the bait is injured, and, therefore, they will not hesitate to bite. Fish like injured prey. Do not discard your torn-up plastic worms. Some fish like to ambush wounded prey, so these would be perfect to use.

Lake Fishing Tips for Beginners

Fishing in Different Seasons

Seasons largely dictate the abundance or scarcity of fish in each lake.

The winter cold slows metabolism in fish and makes them move less. Instead, they find comfort in waters with higher temperatures and optimum oxygen content. Also, during winter, the fish feed less frequently. They develop the habit of seeking food that is easy to catch.

Spring comes with good tidings. The shallow waters begin to warm up. Most fish species spawn during this time of the year. This need to mate controls most of their activities. First, the female lays her eggs and then leaves for deeper waters. The males are left defending the eggs for a short while, after which they follow the females to deeper waters. They rest here a few days or a couple of weeks and then return to prowl for food. Knowledge of this movement helps you understand when to fish in the shallows or in the deep.

Come summer, the warm water favors the growth of plankton and algae. The baitfish actively feed, in turn attracting the predator fish. The fish, therefore, form a pattern of feeding in the shallows and resting in deeper cool waters.

Fall is characterized by cool nights. Dropping temperature cools off the shallow waters faster than it does the deep waters. Therefore, for some period during the fall, the fish will prefer deeper waters.

As fall continues, the cooler waters on the surface move down, and the relatively warmer waters in the deep rise toward the surface. This skews the oxygen level, pH, and temperatures. The fish, likewise, become out of balance, and it might be difficult to locate any hot spot.

Know the Lake and Fish Species

The first thing I would probably recommend before you leave your home is to do some desktop study. Learn as much as you can about the lake where you plan to fish. Dig for articles related to fishing at your lake of choice. Watch fishing tournaments if you can and carefully study the results.

Go a step further to find out the kind of fish present in the lake. Such information and more are usually available from nearby tackle dealers, frequent fishermen, and even local residents. You need different techniques to fish for different species. Even the fishing gear may vary. You need a different fishing rod for trout than the one for bass.

If possible, get a detailed fishing map. This will show you general information about the lake as well as the location of deep channels and shallow areas. You will also get to know the location of coves, inlets, and outlets.

Use these features to plan your attack on the lake. It is normally not possible to cover a lake in one day. Focus your efforts on one area after the other, and eventually, you will cover the whole lake, even though it may take some return trips.

Fish Around Sunken Structures

Sunken structures harbor lots of fish. In an attempt to protect themselves, fish will primarily stay around structures that give them good cover. Such structures include downed trees, branches, and man-made fish habitats. Try fishing around such structures, and you will make a killing. You can also build your own structures if the lake policy allows.

While around these structures, make sure to watch your line, lest you hit unseen objects.

Fish also like to hang around islands and sandbars. This is especially so if the islands or sandbars create a broken line where the land slopes gradually into deeper waters. Apart from the protection offered, islands also abound in small plants and aquatic animals. These are brought by the water currents that circle the islands.

Fish Around Weed Beds

Weed beds are also considered hot spots for most big fish. They provide food and shelter for baitfish, which in turn attract game fish. For instance, northern pike and largemouth bass like to hunt around weed beds. Look for weed beds and lower your line; you will most likely have good results. If you need to pick a reel for lake fishing, then check out our list of the Best Spinning Reels for Walleye. You will be able to catch most freshwater fish with any one of these reels.

Fish with the Wind in your Face

A strong wind will normally push baitfish closer to the shore. The big fish will, in turn, follow the baitfish. Drift lines on the lake are also signs of abundant baitfish. This is because of the surface food being pushed around. Follow such drift lines.

As the wind blows, waves break on the shore and increase the concentration of oxygen. High oxygen levels make the fish more active, and you will find them near the shore.

Do not be tempted to shield yourself from the wind by facing away from it. Instead, fish with the wind in your face. Remember to leave a good distance between your line and your boat. The fish should normally find the bait before they come across the boat.

The wind also carries away the noise of water slapping against the side of the boat and may scare away fish.

It is also necessary to know the direction the wind has been blowing before you arrive at the lake. Remember, strong winds may be dangerous at times. When the wind picks up, you should consider going along with a guide.

Before a storm arrives, the barometric pressure makes some fish, like bass, become more active. – This is one of the best times to fish. On the other hand, the bass does not come out to feed when it is too sunny.

Pay Attention to Lunar Phases

Nature dictates that the feeding patterns of fish vary with the position of the moon. From experience, major feedings occur when the moon is directly overhead, but when the moon is on the horizon, the fish feed less. You can, therefore, capitalize on the prime lunar phases.


I am sure you now have all it takes to get started fishing on a lake. Did you find our lake fishing tips useful? I really hope so. As you start out fishing, remember these things:

  • Catching fish is not just by luck. It requires some knowledge of their feeding patterns and movements.
  • Know where and how to catch fish in a lake.
  • With the right lake fishing tips and techniques, you will catch the fish you desire.
  • Always follow all local and state regulations when out on the lake.
  • Wear an inflatable life jacket for fishing to keep you safe around water.
  • Don’t forget to carry fishing waders and rain suit to keep you dry.

I would be glad to know your thoughts on this piece. Feel free to leave a comment below. Also, feel free to share these lake fishing tips with other fishing enthusiasts.

Last Updated on January 3, 2021 by Victor Mays