..Steve Seepersaud..

Using the Net for Better Fishing

Now that the weather has warmed up, many of us want to spend time outdoors. One of the best ways to enjoy nature is to go fishing. I was just introduced to the sport a few weeks ago, when a friend from work offered to teach me how to fish. We hit a few spots in beautiful upstate New York, and I even caught a rainbow trout on my first outing. I had a blast, and I've been hooked (pun intended) ever since.

Before my initial outing, I used the Internet to read up on fishing regulations, and shop around for equipment. The Web has a tremendous amount of information that can help fishermen and women at just about any level.

State Parks
Many state parks offer beautiful settings in which to enjoy this sport. They can be great places for beginners because state natural resource offiicials do a pretty good job of making sure ponds and lakes are stocked with fish. Therefore, you won't spend hours casting your line into waters where there's nothing to catch.

To learn more about fishing at state parks, get started at your state government's Internet gateway. There's a pretty easy formula to help you find it - go to www.state.xx.us. Substitute your state's two-letter postal code for 'xx'. For instance, New York would be 'ny'.

Fishing Licenses
If you don't feel like going down to your local sporting goods store to get a license, you can download application forms online and then mail them in with a check. Use the method described above to find the state agency that handles fishing licenses. It's not the same in every state, and this will require a little digging on your part. For example, in New York the Department of Environmental Conservation issues licenses. In Pennsylvania, it's the Fish and Boat Commission.

Field and Stream
One of the best and most comprehensive sites for fishing is www.fieldandstream.com. It's run by the magazine of the same name. The site has brief snippets of articles you'll find in the monthly hard copy. But one of the site's best features is the fish finder - a database of over 90 species with techniques on catching them. Field and Stream.com also has a wealth of information on many topics including gear and destinations.

Online Communities
Take advantage of chats and message boards to meet other people interested in this hobby. Yahoo.com has a fishing message area. You can find boards and chat rooms at www.probass.net and www.walleyecentral.com. This can be a great way to share techniques that work, get advice, and even find a new buddy.

Whether you're a beginner or expert, we hope the summer months are enjoyable and successful for you.

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