According to a 2009 report issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 8,528,000 anglers spent 85,780,000 days pursuing saltwater fish in 2006. The popularity of saltwater fishing is at an all-time high, and while the size of the ocean and variety of fishing choices can be intimidating, you can get right in the game with some basic information.
There are hundreds of commonly sought-after fish along the saltwater coasts of the United States. In the northeast, striped bass, bluefish and fluke are king. Farther south, you have redfish, speckled trout and tarpon. The Gulf of Mexico offers snook, redfish and permit. The West Coast is known for its tuna and shark fishing.
Boat or Beach
Every region has saltwater fish that can be caught from the beach. You can also climb aboard a party or charter boat for a day of fishing with the pros.
From the beach, a 7-foot spinning rod and reel covers most situations. Expect to pay about $250 for a decent rod and reel and another $15 to fill the reel with 12-pound-test line. Add some hooks and sinkers for bait fishing or lures for plugging.
Before Hitting the Water
Stop by your local bait and tackle shop for some up-to-the-minute information. Ask what's biting and when the best tide is. If you bought your equipment at your local shop, the staff should be glad to help you get started. Find out what the current regulations are for the fish you plan to catch. Seasons, size and bag limits are constantly changing, so you should regularly check regulations and be sure to obey conservation laws.
Handling Your Fish
When you are keeping a fish to eat, bleed it immediately by cutting the gill plates. After bleeding it, put it on ice to keep it fresh. If you are not going to eat your fish, release it as quickly as possible. Remove the hook carefully and hold the fish in the water until it struggles to be free. You may have to move the fish forward and back to pass water across its gills, but it will breathe again. Let the fish swim away only after it has regained its breath.