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Hook, Line and Sinker (REGPCEC)

TopicHabitat and Management - General
Outdoor Skills - Fishing
Outdoor Skills - Identification
Outdoor Skills - Outdoor Safety
Wildlife - Fish
Participants will be introduced to fishing in this activity. They will learn about types of fish in Arkansas, their habitats, eating habits and what baits are used to catch them. Training also includes proper knot tying, basic fishing instruction and important safety tips. If time permits, participants will get to fish.
Grade LevelK - 12
Recommended SettingOutdoor
LocationRick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center, Columbus

Education Program Coordinator, 800-983-4219

Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of Participants10 - 30
Special Conditions
Weather permitting 
  • Learn about species of Arkansas fish.
  • Identify common habitats of target species and learn their eating habits.
  • Learn about fishing tackle and equipment.
  • Learn how to tie a fishing knot and cast bait.
  • Learn safety tips.
Key Terms*


Cane pole



Creel limit

Fisheries management


Hook (eye, shank, barb, point)


Monofilament line

Natural bait

Practice plug






AGFC Arkansas sportfish booklet

AGFC “Beginner’s Fishing Guide”

AGFC sport fishing and aquatic resources handbook (chapter three)

Bait casting practice plugs


Cane pole

Caring for Your Catch handout


Current Arkansas fishing guidebook

Fish poster(s)

Hook, Line and Sinker trunk

Knot-tying hook and rope

Life jackets or personal flotation devices

Rod and reel

Safety props (poison ivy, sunscreen)

Tackle box

Target(s) for bait casting (backyard bass, hula hoop)



Fishing is a favorite past time for sportsmen around the world, and Arkansas waters provide plenty of fishing spots. Good fishermen have a basic understanding of the types of fish in aquatic habitats, rigging techniques, baits and the proper way to release a fish.

  1. Ask participants about their fishing experiences. Suggested questions:
    • Have you ever caught a fish?
    • What is the biggest fish you have ever caught?
    • Do you enjoy fishing?
  2. After a few moments, show the “Beginner’s Fishing Guide.” If it is a small group, give each a copy to look at during the activity and use the information and illustrations as needed.
  3. Show the page that defines habitat (page 3). Share the following:
    • A habitat is an area where a fish lives. It provides food, cover, space and protection.
    • Different types of fish need different habitats.
    • If a person learns about the fish and its habitats, it will help them catch fish.
    • Understanding the preferred water temperatures for different species of fish will also help catch them.
  4. Ask the participants to name some Arkansas sportfish. Record the names on a list. Make sure that the fish most likely to be caught today are mentioned. They include bream and catfish if fishing at the conservation education center.
  5. Next, discuss the importance of learning the eating habits of these fish. Show a page that introduces a fish species. It will include the natural/live bait and artificial lures that fish prefer.
  6. Skim through a few pages, showing examples of habitat, temperature preferences and bait/lure information.
  7. Show a rod/reel outfit and the pages that illustrate basic fishing tackle and equipment. Discuss types of rods and reels, fishing line, bobbers, sinkers and various size hooks. As these items are identified, show them on a real rod and reel outfit. Point out each part of the outfit and how it is used.
  8. At this time, show the different ways to tie the fisherman’s knot. If the group is small, let them practice.
  9. After introducing the fish and equipment, cover simple fishing tips from the guide (pages 29-31):
    • Best time to fish
    • Patience
  10. It is also important to teach safety tips (page 32):
    • Life jacket/personal flotation device
    • Unstable footing
    • Hook safety
    • Sunburn
    • Littering
    • Outdoor/water-related dangers: poison ivy, snakes, alligators, weather, hypothermia, drowning.
  11. Move to bait casting practice. Help participants rig their rod/reel outfits with a plug or have baitcasting equipment prepared in advance. Show them how to cast the rod/reel, and take them to an open area with targets. Participants need to practice casting until the instructor feels they are ready to fish safely.
  12. Fish!
  13. Give everyone the teacher handout Caring for Your Catch!
  • Explain why it is important to learn about fish species, their habitat and feeding habits before fishing.
  • Name five Arkansas sportfish and define their habitat.
  • Identify the parts of a rod/reel outfit.

Bobber – fishing float or cork designed to float on the water and keep bait or lure at a selected depth

Cane pole – long, slender fishing pole with no reel, made from the dried hollow stem of the river cane plant with fishing line attached to the end; ideal for fishing from the bank or in tight locations, especially for panfish; sometimes called a “bank pole”

Catfish – a group of fish without scales named for the long barbels around their mouths that look like the whiskers of a cat

Creel – a fish basket or personal fish carrier used to carry fish when fishing on or near the shore

Creel limit – number of fish (by species) that can be caught legally in one day

Fisheries management – management of fish populations through research, habitat manipulation, stocking, water quality control and regulations

Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs

Hook – a curved or sharply bent device for catching fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish

Lure – a decoy; any live or artificial bait used to fish or trap

Monofilament line – single, strong synthetic material used for fishing line, which is low-cost and available in all pound-test varieties

Natural bait – bait found in nature, such as insects and worms, and common to a fish’s habitat

Practice plug – weighted plug without hooks designed for practicing casting with a fishing rod

Rigging – setting up a fishing rod and attaching a bait or lure

Sinker – a weight that sinks and holds nets or fishing lines under water

Sportfishing – fishing for recreation, not for profit

Tackle – fishing gear