Easiest Fish To Catch For Beginners

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Sunfish are incredibly easy fish to catch

If you’re new to fishing, figuring out which freshwater fish are the easiest to catch is oftentimes how you get started.

In this article we’re going to go over the top 3 fish that new anglers should target, as well as how to catch them.

Panfish: Bluegill/Sunfish

Panfish, like bluegill, are probably the easiest fish to catch out of all. I should point out that “Sunfish” is not a species, this is a family of fish that includes many different species like Bluegill, long-eared Sunfish, Crappie, Green Sunfish, Pumpkin Seed, etc. This article is referring to Bluegills, Long-eared Sunfish, and Green Sunfish mostly. The photo above is a long-eared Sunfish.

They are almost everywhere across the country. Bodies of water such as farm ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers. This means they’re abundant and accessible to anglers all over.

Besides them being very easy fish to catch, something that’s also appealing to beginners is their aggressive feeding habits. They’re known for biting a wide range of baits, which takes out a difficult step of finding the right bait for newcomers.

When I was a kid, I specifically remember catching these fish without bait and just a hook, they really can be this simple especially if you get them into a feeding frenzy first. Which brings up another point; these are great for kids to catch as well!

You can find sunfish basically anywhere along the shoreline, but higher concentrations of them will be around weed beds, trees, docks, and other structures. They’re not picky eaters at all, so you can catch them with a simple setup with a bobber and live bait such as nightcrawlers, mealworms, crickets, small bread balls, small pieces of hot dog, or small artificial lures or jigs can be very effective.

The simplicity in catching these fish is what makes them a great choice for a beginner looking for an easy fish to catch.


flathead catfish are an easy fish to catch
A Flathead Catfish

Catfish are another great option for new anglers. Much like Sunfish, they can be found in most freshwater environments, especially Channel Catfish.

They offer a different kind of challenge and excitement, especially when you fish for them at night. Night fishing for catfish is a fun experience that’s different and can have great results. These fish, especially Flathead Catfish, are more active and more likely to bite after dark.

For bait, catfish will usually bite chicken livers, hot dogs, night crawlers, raw chicken breast, and stink baits. However, the best bait will be cut or live bait fish like Shad or Bluegill.

There are two easy rigs I would recommend for beginners. Either a slip sinker rig or a Santee Cooper rig. The only difference between these two is that Santee uses a peg float between the hook and swivel. They have slightly different presentations, so it’s a good idea to try both.

All you really need to do is rig your line, put your bait on, cast far out, and fish on the bottom. You don’t even have to hold your rod, put it in a rod holder and just wait!


largemouth bass are one of the most exciting and easiest fish to catch

Bass fishing might seem intimidating, but there are many effective lures or baits that do all the presentation for you, so you just need to cast them and reel them in.

However, these fish are highly accessible, abundant, and rewarding with the right approach. Bass are a bit more challenging than panfish and catfish but catching them is super fun, but they are still among the top easiest freshwater fish to catch.

Start with beginner-friendly lures like spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastic worms, which are effective, easy to use, and can set you up for success.

Use basic retrieval methods like a steady retrieve or a pause-and-twitch. Steady retrieval just means simply reeling it in, which is what you would do with spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Pause and twitch just means give your rod a little twitch as you pull a little bit, pause for a few seconds, then twitch again. This method would be used with soft plastics.

These methods are productive and they also help beginners get a feel for how different lures work.

Tips for Success

For all species, there are universal fishing tips that can increase your chances of success. Knowing the best times to fish, usually around dawn and dusk, can make a significant difference in your catch rate.

Patience is the name of the game, sometimes it might take a long time for a bite, and that’s just a part of fishing. Sometimes you might not even catch anything at all.

Be quiet around your fishing spot, because fish are easily spooked by sounds, vibrations, and sudden movements.

Change up your presentation and bait when certain things aren’t working after a while. Day to day these things can be the deciding factor of catching a fish or not.

Wrapping Up on the easiest fish to catch

In this article, we covered some very easy freshwater fish to catch. Sunfish, catfish, and bass are perfect for beginners and kids alike.

Now that you’ve learned your target fish, it’s time to grab your rod and head to the water. Don’t forget to find a good fishing spot.