Join stream of newbies fishing at scaled-back cost

fishingSince a new study declared that the recession lured 630,000 more Americans to the low-cost pastime of fishing in 2009, WalletPop thought it might be time to reel in more newcomers for 2010.

Once you get our tips for angling on the cheap from Clark Evans, the manager of Old Inlet Bait and Tackle in Rehoboth Beach, Del., we're sure you'll be hooked.

"Fishing is family friendly and family affordable," Evans told WalletPop.

Find easy-access water
A body of water that you can walk right up to will save you loads on boating expenses and fees, Clark said. That means beachfront, lakefront, or creekside, anywhere fish swim -- and you can legally fish. Sunbathing and Frisbee included at no extra cost.

Use live bait

The real squirmin' deal such as earth worms ($3 or $4 a dozen) can trim your spending by 40% in the short term over synthetic bait. But if you decide to commit to the sport, the fake stuff will cut your budget a bit more in the long run.

Buy an entry-level rod and reel
About $50 will net you an effective, durable means to fish. Evans recommends the Shakespeare or Eagle Claw brands. You can expect to pay about $20 for hooks and sinkers on top of that. If the retail gear sounds too expensive, you can always go the Huck Finn route: a bamboo pole with kite string, he said. It worked then. It works now. And the best part is that state fish and game agencies sometimes waive the license fees for certain homemade gear in fresh water.

Observe local fishing laws
States charge an average of $10 for a seasonal license for folks 15 and older (age requirements vary), Evans said. Pay up because a fine will spoil all the fun. And be sure that the fish you catch (and do not release) meet size minimums.

Make the most of your time
Sure, we've heard the old saw that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work, but you might as well be smart about it. "The only way to catch fish is to keep the line in the water," Evans said. "You can't catch anything if your line is not in the water."
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