Fishing Glossary

fishing glossary

acidity – The degree of sourness of a usually water soluble substance. Acidity is measured in pH, with 7 being neutral and 2 being a strong acid.

action – Measure of rod performance ranging from slow to fast and describes the elapse time from when the rod is flexed to when it returns to its straight configuration. Also refers to the strength of the rod, light, medium and heavy, with light being a limber rod and heavy a stout rod.

active fish – Fish that are feeding heavily and striking aggressively.

adipose fin – On some species, the fatty fin located between the dorsal and tail fin.

air bladder – A gas-filled sac in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes. It is located just beneath the vertebral column; its principal function is to offset the weight of the heavier tissue such as bone.

algae – Simple plant organism (typically a single cell) commonly found in water.

alkalinity – Measure of the amount of acid neutralizing bases.

anal fin – The unpaired fin that lies along the midline of the body beneath the anus, usually on the back half of the fish.

angler – Person using a fishing pole or rod and reel to catch fish.

angleworm – Any live earthworm placed on a fishing hook.

angling – Usually refers to the recreational catching of fish (sport-fishing) by hook and line.

anti-reverse – System that prevents reels (typically bait casters) from spinning in reverse and causing tangles.

artificial lures and flies – Means man-made devices intended as visual attractants for fish and does not include living or dead organisms or edible parts thereof, natural or prepared food stuffs, artificial salmon eggs, artificial corn, or artificial marshmallows.

attractant – Liquid, solid or power form of scent applied to fishing lures for increased productivity.

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back cast (n.) or back-cast (v.) – Part of the cast in which the fishing rod (usually a fly rod) and the fishing line is moved from a position in front to one in back of the angler. There can be successive back casts as line is played out to increase the distance and accuracy of the cast.

backing – Any type of line used to partially fill a reel before the main fishing line is added; commonly used in fly-fishing or by bass anglers who use many of the newer thread-like or polymer lines.

backlash – An overrun of a revolving-spool reel, such as a bait-cast reel, which in turn causes the line to billow off the reel and tangle.

back-trolling – A method of boat control utilizing a motor to make a series of maneuvers in the presentation of a lure or bait. The most common back-troll method is using a front-mounted trolling motor to make the boat go backwards, while dragging or trolling the lure in front of the boat. Many back-troll methods, such as fishing for suspended crappies in winter or summer, involve a slow stop-and-go technique.

back-wash – Rough water resulting from boat wakes rebounding off fixed objects such as canyon walls, docks or anchored boats.

backwater – Shallow area of a river that is sometimes isolated, often being located behind a sand bar or other obstruction in the river. Large backwaters tat are isolated may be referred to as oxbows.

bag limit – Restriction in the number of fish an angler may retain, generally on a daily basis.

bail – Metal, semi-circular arm of an open-face spinning reel that engages the line after a cast.

bait – Can mean live bait or artificial bait, such as a lure.

baitcasting – Fishing with a revolving-spool reel and baitcasting rod, with the reel mounted on the topside of the rod.

baitfish – Small fish, such as threadfin shad, that are often eaten by predatory fish, such as largemouth bass. This can refer to the fish that predators feed upon, or the kids of fish we place on a hook to catch a sport-fish. The use of bait fish is often regulated, so be sure to check the latest fishing regulations.

baitwell – A special well or livewell in a boat to hold bait.

bank-fishing, bank-fish – A method of fishing by casting from an area on a bank of water.

bass boat – A design of shallow-drafting boat developed for modern, competitive bass fishing.

bar – Long, shallow ridge in a body of water.

barb – A sharp projection on a fishing hook that holds a hooked fish.

barbless – A hook manufactured without a barb, or one made barbless by cutting it off, filing it off or flattening the barb (typically with pliers).

bay – Major indentation in the shoreline of a lake or reservoir.

bead-headed midges – A type of fly used for fly-fishing.

bedding – In fishing, this term refers to bedding fish during the spawning period.

bell sinker – A bell-shaped fishing weight.

benthic – Occurring at or near the bottom of a body of water.

biology – The study of living things.

bite – When a fish takes or touches a bait so that the fisherman feels it.

bite indicator ­­– A device which activates or signals when a fish is on the line. It can be as simple as a bell placed on the line between two fishing pole guides that rings when a fish either nibbles or takes the bait. There are commercially made bite indicators as well. Bite indicators are often used by those bottom-fishing for catfish and carp.

biomass – The aggregate amount of living matter or a specific species within a specific habitat, or the total number of a specific species in a specific habitat.

blind cast – Casting at no particular target.

bluebird skies – A term used to describe bright, sunny, blue sky conditions that often make catching fish tough.

bobber – A float attached to the line under which a hook and sometimes a sinker hang. The bobber holds the bait or lure at a predetermined depth and also signals the strike of a fish (strike indicator). A variation is called a slip-bobber or slip-float, where the line runs freely through the bobber and there is a stop on the line for the predetermined depth.

bottom feeder or bottom-fish – A bottom-feeding fish, such as a hammour, catfish or carp. Refers to a fish that feeds predominantly on the bottom, not just one that is sometimes caught on the bottom.

bow-fishing – Using a bow and arrow, typically with a reel attached to the bow, to harvest fish.

brackish – Water of intermediate salinity between seawater and freshwater.

break – Distinct variation in otherwise constant stretches of cover, structure, or bottom type. Basically anything that “breaks up” the underwater terrain.

break-off – A fish lost when the line breaks, as opposed to losing fish when the hook breaks, straightens or pulls out.

brushline – The inside or the outside edge of a stretch of brush.

brush pile – Usually refers to a mass of small- to medium-sized tree limbs lying in the water. Brush piles may be only one of two feet across, or they may be extremely large; they may be visible or submerged. They can be created by Mother Nature or be man made. They typically attract fish, and fishermen.

bumping – Refers to the act of making a lure hit an object, such as a log, tree or rock, in a controlled manner (either intentionally or unintentionally), which can get the attention of a fish and result in a strike.

bullet sinker – A cone-shaped piece of lead, zinc or steel of varying weights that slides up and down the line.

buzzbait Top-water bait with large, propeller-type blades that churn the water during a retrieve. Usually comprised of a leadhead, a rigid hook and a wire that supports one of more blades. Typically has a plastic skirt like a spinnerbait.

buzzing Retrieving a spinnerbait or buzzbait along the water’s surface to create a splash effect to resemble a wounded baitfish.

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caddis fly – an aquatic insect of major importance, along with the mayfly and stonefly, for the trout fly-fisherman. A caddis fly is characterized by swept-back wings; also an insect that goes through a complete metamorphosis much like a butterfly. A caddis worm is the larva of a caddis fly.

California rig or California-rigged – A method of deep-water fishing in which a plastic worm is placed at the end of a leader trailing behind a sinker.

cane pole – A pole of natural cane, often made from Calcutta or Tonkin bamboo, used for fishing. No reel is used; the line is tied to the pole. Extremely effective for fishing small, narrow streams or creeks. Those fishing with such a rig are said to be cane-poling.

cartop or cartopper – Refers to a boat small enough to be carried on the top of a car and hand-launched, especially at fisheries with limited or no boat launching facilities.

Carolina rig or Carolina-rigged A special rig in which an exposed or hidden hook is used with a soft plastic lure placed 2 to 3 feet behind an egg or barrel sinker and swivel. Used primarily for deep fishing with heavier weights than a Texas rig. This rig is most commonly used with a plastic worm or lizard, but can be used with floating crankbaits and other lures.

A variation on this theme is using a lighter, spinning outfit with a split shot placed on the line 12 to 30 inches above the hook, with a small worm or lizard (4 to 6 inches) rigged Texas style. This style can be used in shallow or deep water, and is especially good for use in the clear, Western reservoirs, or when it is appropriate to down-size, such as in winter.

catch-and-release – Refers to catching a fish and immediately releasing it. Many anglers practice catch-and-release as a way to help conserve the resource. In some waters, such as certain small trout streams, the state fishing regulations actually require anglers to catch-and-release.

channel – The bed of a stream or river. This can also refer to a submerged stream or river channel in a reservoir.

chugger – Topwater plug with a dished-out, concave or cupped head designed to make a splash when pulled sharply. The act of systematically working the lure across the surface is called “chugging.”

chum – To throw chum (typically cut up pieces of bait fish or other bait) overboard to attract fish. A chum line is the trail of bait or scent in the water that attracts game fish.

clarity – Refers to the depth you are able to see an object, such as your lure, under the water.

clearwater – Describes a lake or stream with good visibility.

cold front – A weather condition accompanied by high, clear skies, and a sudden drop in temperature.

coldwater fishery – Refers to waters typically in the higher elevations that can be predominately trout fisheries.

cosmic clock – The sun’s seasonal effect on water and weather conditions relating to barometric pressure, wind, and cloud cover.

cove – An indentation along a shoreline. A very small indentation a few feet or so across is often referred to as a “pocket cove.”

cover – Natural or manmade objects on the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially those that influence fish behavior. Examples include stick-ups, tree lines, stumps, rocks, logs, pilings, docks, and weed patches.

cowbells – A flashing, multi-bladed lure that resembles a small school of bait fish that is commonly used to troll for trout.

crankbait – Any of a wide number of hard plastic or wooden lures that dive when retrieved (cranked with a reel) through the water. Crank or cranks are slang terms for these baits.

creel limit – The daily number of fish an angler can keep in possession as set by state regulations. Can vary from water to water, so be sure to check the fishing regulations.

culling – A method of removing and releasing lighter-weight fish from a livewell so the heaviest or tournament limit is retained.

curly-tailed grub – A curved-tail soft plastic bait often fitted on a jighead.

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dabbing – Working a lure up and down in the same spot a dozen or more times in a bush, or beside a tree or other structure.

damselfly – A small member of the dragonfly family.

dapping – A method of fly-fishing in which the fly is allowed to skip or dance on the water while line and leader are held above the water from a high rod.

deadfall – A tree that has fallen into the water.

deer-hair bug – A floating fly-rodding lure made from hollow deer hair and used principally for bass and panfish.

depthfinder, depth recorder, or depth sounder – A sonar device used to read the bottom structure, determine depth, and in some cases actually locate fish. Also called a fishfinder.

die-off – Refers to having many fish die at the same time, quite often baitfish; also referred to as a fish kill.

dillys – A type of small earthworm popular for catching sunfish and trout.

dip bait – A smelly paste-type bait primarily used for catfish.

dip net – A net with a handle used to capture baitfish.

disgorger – Device for removing hooks deeply embedded in the throat of fish.

dissolved oxygen – The amount of free (usable) oxygen in water. Usually designated in parts per million.

dobsonfly – A large aquatic insect, the larva of which is the popular hellgrammite bait.

doodlesock or doodlesocking – A method of cane-pole or long-pole fishing in which a lure or bait is repeatedly dipped and dragged through likely fish structures. Very effective when fish are holding tight to cover.

dorsal fin – A median fin located along the back of a fish. It is usually supported by rays, which sometimes gives the fin a fan- or sail-like appearance. There may be two or more dorsal fins.

doughball – A ball of bait made from bread or specially prepared dough used for bait-fishing. Commonly used for carp.

downlake, downriver, downshore, and downstream, downcurrent – All terms referring to directions.

drag – Device on fishing reels that allows line to pay out under pressure, even though the reel is engaged; set correctly, it ensures against line breakage.

drawdown – Lowering a lake level for a specific purpose.

drift-boating, drift-fishing – Techniques used to fish by drifting with the current, sometimes in a drift boat.

drop-off – A sudden increase in depth, often created by washes, small creek channels, canyons, pinnacles, and other submerged topographic features.

drop shot – A tackle rigging technique employing a hook tied to the line from four-inches to four-feet above the sinker. The hook is attached using a Palomar knot and the weight is attached to the tag line from the knot. The hook is set at a 90-degree angle to the line, typically with the hook point pointing upward toward the pole. Typical drop shot baits are small, usually 4-inches or less.

dry fly – A fly which floats on the surface of the water by means of hackle (feather) fibers. An angler employing this technique is said to be dry-fly fishing.

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earthworm – A common term for any of the many different fishing worms, including night crawlers (two words), garden worms, leaf worms, dillys, and red wigglers.

edge – The borders created by a change in the structure or vegetation in a lake. Examples are edges of tree lines, weed lines, and the edges of a drop-off.

egg sinker – An egg-shaped fishing weight with a hole through the center for the line to pass through.

electro-fishing, electro-fish, electro-shocking – A term used to describe using electrical current to temporarily stun fish, typically during fish surveys.

eutrophic – Highly fertile waters characterized by warm, nutrient-rich shallow basins.

eyelets – The eyelets are the line guides or rings on a fishing rod through which line is passed.

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false-casting, false-cast – Fly-casting line in the air (not touching the water) to increase length of line and perfect accuracy to the target.

fan cast – Making a series of casts only a few degrees apart to cover a half circle (more or less). Often used to locate actively feeding fish.

feeding times – Certain times of day when fish are most active. These are often associated with the position of the sun and moon and are referred to as solunar tables.

filamentous algae – Type of algae characterized by long chains of attached cells that give it a stringy feel and appearance.

fillet – A method of using a sharp knife to separate the meaty portion of the fish from the bones and skeleton and/or skin for human consumption.

finesse fishing – An angling technique characterized by the use of light tackle – line, rods, reels and artificial baits. It is often productive in clear, fairly uncluttered water, like many of our western impoundments.

fingerling – A young fish about a finger long, usually 2 inches or so in length.

fisherman – One who engages in fishing for sport or occupation, or for food.

fishery – A term used for a lake, river or stream where people can catch fish, or even a particular kind of fish, such as a bass or trout fishery.

fishhook – A barbed or barbless hook used for catching fish. For fish hook sizes, always use numerals: No. 2, No. 4 etc.

flat – In fishing, a shallow section of water where game fish feed or spawn.

flipping – A method of fishing by which the lure is swung, not cast, to the target or structure, often with as little disturbance of the water as possible. This technique is often used for placing baits strategically in thick cover, such as bushes, trees and stick-ups.

flipping stick – Heavy action fishing rod (usually a baitcasting rod and reel), 7 to 8 feet long, designed for bass fishing using the flipping and or pitching techniques.

Florida rig – Very similar to the Texas rig, the only difference is the weight is secured by “screwing” it into the bait.

float tube – A special fishing tube in which an inner tube is covered by a casing fitted with a seat to allow an angler to float free.

floating or float fishing – To traverse a river, stream or lake by some type of watercraft while fishing, most commonly in a tube, raft, canoe, or kayak.

flutterbait ­– Any type of bait that is cast and then allowed to “flutter” down, resembles a dying bait fish. Typically used in bass fishing.

fly, flies – A natural insect used by fish as food or an imitation of a natural insect used by fly-anglers.

fly-casting, fly-cast – A method for a fly-fishermen to cast flies to fish or to spots likely to hold fish.

fly line, fly-line (adj.) – A line specifically designed to be used with fly-fishing tackle and a fly rod, the act of which would be termed fly-rodding.

foul-hook – To hook a fish other than in the mouth where it should take a bait or lure.

forage – Small baitfish, crayfish and other creatures that bass or other predator fish eat. Term may also be used in the sense of bass actively looking for food (foraging).

free spool, or free-spool (v.) – A reel that allows line to feed freely to the fish or current, or the method of feeding line without drag or resistance to fish or current.

freshwater – A term referring to bodies of water that do not have salt.

front – Weather system that causes changes in temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, wind and barometric pressure.

fry – Immature fish from the time they hatch to the time they become fingerlings.

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game fish or game-fish (adj.) Species of fish caught for sport that fights hard when hooked.

gear – Any tools used to catch fish, such as rod and reel, hook and line, nets, traps, spears and baits.

gill – Respiratory organ of many aquatic animals, such as fish.

gill opening – an opening behind the head that connects the gill chamber to the exterior.

gill net, gill-net (v.) – A commercial (not sport-fishing) net used to harvest fish. So named because of the mesh sizes designed to catch the intended species by the gill. Commonly used by biologists when conducting fish surveys.

grayline – The grayline on a fish finder lets you distinguish between strong and weak echoes. For instance, a soft, muddy or weedy bottom returns a weaker symbol, which is shown with a narrow or no gray line. A hard bottom returns a strong signal, which causes a wide and dark grayline.

grub – A short, plastic type of worm, usually rigged with a weighed jig hook.

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habitat – The natural environment where people, animals and plants live. In an aquatic environment, it includes the water, topography, structure and cover present in a lake.

handline – A fishing line used without a rod or reel; a line held in the hand.

hard bottom – Usually a type of bottom that you would not sink far, if at all, were you to walk on it and can consist of clay, gravel, rock or sand.

hellgramite — The larvae of the dobsonfly.

holding area – Structure that habitually attracts and holds bass.

holding station – Place on a lake where inactive fish spend most of their time.

honey hole – A slang term describing a specific hole, spot, or area containing big fish or lots of catchable fish.

hump – An underwater island that generally rises gradually. Humps can often hold fish.

hydrology – The science dealing with the distribution, properties and circulation of water on land, in the soil, and in the atmosphere.

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ichthyology – The science or study of fish.

IGFA – The International Game Fish Association.

inactive fish – Fish that are not in a feeding mood, sometimes referred to as having “lockjaw.” Examples of inactive times can be following a cold front, during a major weather change that causes a sudden rise or fall in the barometer.

in-line spinner – A spinner where the hook is on the same shaft, or line, as the spinner, such as a Mepps, Rooster Tail, Panther Martin or Vibrex spinner.

inside bend – The inside line of a grass bed or a creek channel.

isolated structure – A possible holding spot for fish, especially bass. Examples include a single submerged bush or rock pile on a point, a mid-lake hump, or a large tree that has fallen into the water.

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jerkbait – A type of soft-plastic or hard-plastic bait resembling a bait fish that is typically fished in a series of quick jerks or is “ripped” to resemble a darting baitfish.

jig – A hook with a leadhead that is usually dressed with hair, silicone, plastic or bait.

jigging spoon – Refers to a spoon that is typically “jigged” or bounced off the bottom with a slight up-and-down motion of the rod or rod tip so the spoon resembles a dying shad or other baitfish.

jig-and-pig or jig-n-pig – Combination of a leadhead jig fitted with a pork trailer. Popular for flippin’ and pitchin’ fish-holding structure, such as submerged bushes and trees.

jig-fishing, jig-fish (v.) – The practice of using a jig to catch fish.

johnboat – A small flat-bottomed, square-fronted, shallow-draft boat that is popular with duck hunters and many anglers alike.

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keeper – For anglers, it is typically any fish that is worth taking home to eat. For lakes with special regulations, it can be fish of specified lengths that are legal to harvest, such as fisheries where there are slot limits.

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larva – Refers to the subsurface stage of development of an aquatic insect.

lake bed, lake-bed (adj.) – The bottom of a lake.

lake zones – Designation that includes four categories: shallow water, open water, deep water and basin.

ledge – A severe drop-off.

leadhead, lead-head (adj.) – A term for a jig where lead is molder to the hook shaft.

light intensity – The amount of light that can be measured at certain depths of water; the great the intensity, the farther down the light will project. In waters where light intensity is low, brightly colored lures can be good choices.

Light Cahill – A dry fly pattern.

line guides – The eyelets or rings on a rod through which fishing line is passed.

limit-out – To catch the daily limit legally allowed for a species of fish.

lipless crankbaits – Artificial baits designed to resemble a swimming baitfish. Such baits typically vibrate or wobble during the retrieve; some have built-in rattles. Also called swimming baits. Lipless crankbaits typically sink when they are not being retrieved, which can allow anglers to fish them deeper than lipped crankbaits.

lipping – A method of landing fish, especially bass, by placing a thumb into its mouth to bend the lip down slightly, temporarily paralyzing the fish to get it into the boat or unhook and release it.

livebox – A box or container to designed to keep bait or caught fish alive.

live baitfish – Means any species of live fish. The act of using live bait is called live-bait fishing.

livewell – Compartment in a boat designed to hold water and keep fish alive. Typically have some device for re-circulating water.

long-lining – Another term for trolling a bait or lure a long distance behind a boat.

loose-action plug – A lure with wide, slow movements from side to side. Can be the lure of choice when fish are sluggish in colder water, such as during winter or early spring.

lunker – A slang term for a very large fish: can also be called a hawg.

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marabou jig – A weighted jig with light, fluffy feathers attached to the body.

mayfly – A small aquatic fly that is an important food for trout, which means it is also important for fly-anglers.

marker buoy – A small plastic buoy, often fluorescent color that is tossed into the water to mark a fish holding area or a school of fish. Such buoys are popular for those fishing schooling sport-fish, such as crappie, white bass, or striped bass, in open water.

Mealworms – Small beetle larvae often used for catching crappies or sunfish.

mesotrophic — A lake classification describing middle-aged bodies of water between oligotrophic (young) and eutrophic (old) classifications. It is a body of water with a moderate amount of dissolved nutrients.

migration route – The path followed by bass or other fish when moving from one area to another.

milfoil – Surface-growing aquatic plants.

mini-jig – A small leadhead jig, usually 1/16- or 1/32-ounce, often used for catching crappie or sunfish.

Minnow – Minnow is a general term used to refer to small freshwater and saltwater fish, especially those used as bait fish or for fishing bait. More specifically, it refers to small freshwater fish of the carp family. They are also known in Ireland as pincín (Anglicized as pinkeens) and in Newfoundland as sparny tickles.

mono – Short for monofilament fishing line.

monofilament – A single, untwisted, synthetic filament.

moon times – The four phases or quarters of the moon are usually what the fisherman is concerned with. Generally, the bad times in a month occur three days prior and three days after the full moon or new moon. The first-quarter and second-quarter periods are considered as the good moon times.

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nares – The nostrils of fish.

nest – The spot in where are fish, such as a largemouth bass or bluegill, deposits its eggs. Some nests, such as those for largemouth bass, can be well defined. For largemouth bass, the female lays the eggs and the male guards the eggs. See the listing for “redd.”

night crawler – A common type of worm used in fishing.

night-fisherman – An angler who fishes at night.

nongame fish – Include all the species of fish except the game fish (see game fish entry).

nymph – The nymphal sate of an aquatic insect, or an imitation of same for nymph-fishing.

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off-color – Refers to the color and or clarity of the water. The normal off-color conditions include brown or mud-stained such as from runoff, green from algae or algae blooms and brown from tannic acid.

open-faced reel – A typical or standard spinning reel in which the line comes off the fixed spool in loops and there is no nose cone.

otolith – The ear bone of a fish. The age of a fish can be determined by counting the layers in the otolith, much like the rings of a tree.

outside bend – The outside line of a creek channel or grass bed. For underwater structure, it can also refer to the outside line of a submerged wash or arroyo.

oligotrophic – Lake classification used to describe young bodies of water characterized by deep, clear, cold, weedless water that can support fish, such as trout.

organic baits – Minnows, insects, worms, fish eggs, cut bait, cheese or similar substances.

overcast – To cast a lure, fly or bait beyond the aimed-for target.

over-fishing – Fishing pressure beyond which a sustainable population of fish or stocking effort can be maintained.

oxbow – A U-shaped bend in a river or stream. If isolated, they can be referred to as an oxbow lake.

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pan fish – Any of a variety of species of fish that resemble the shape of a frying pan, thus the name. Often applies to sunfish, crappie, perch, other small fish or small sizes of other species.

Parr, parr marks – Small juvenile of the trout or salmon family. Characterized by parr marks, which are pronounced, wide, vertical bars on the sides of these fish until they mature.

pattern – Can describe where active fish are holding, or what techniques are working to catch fish, especially larger fish. For instance, pattern fishing could involve using shallow-running crankbaits on all the major points of a lake or Carolina-rigged worms on all main lake humps.

peacock ladies ­­– A type of fly used by fly-anglers.

pectoral fin – The fin usually found on each side of the body behind the gill opening.

pegging – Putting a toothpick in the hole of a bullet or egg sinker to prevent the sinker from sliding along the line. Typically done with a Texas-rigged bait. Other items such as rubber bands slipped through the sinker have also become popular.

pelvic fins – Pair of juxtaposed fins ventrally on the body in front of the anus.

PFD – A personal flotation device or life jacket.

pH – A measurement for liquids to determine acidity or alkalinity. On a scale of one to 14, seven is considered neutral. Below sever is acidic and above seven is alkaline. This is a factor in the health or activity levels of fish.

pick-up – The act of a bass or other fish taking a slowly-fished lure, such as a plastic worm, crayfish or lizard. It can also be referred to as a “pressure” bite.

pitching – Fishing technique in which worms or jigs are dropped into cover at close range with an underhand pendulum motion using a long bait-casting rod, and differs from flipping in that with pitching, line is allowed to come out of the reel during the cast.

pocket – A small indentation in the shoreline, sometimes referred to as a pocket cove.

point – A finger of land jutting into the water, which if pronounced, can form a peninsula. Some points are submerged and not visible at the surface but can often be detected in depth finders. Points often hold fish; they can become good ambush spots for predatory fish.

popper – Top-water plug with a dished-out head designed to make a splash when pulled sharply to imitate a wounded baitfish struggling on the surface.

possession limit – The maximum limit or amount of a fish species set by regulation that may be possessed at one time by any one person.

post front – The period following a cold front; atmosphere clears and becomes bright. Usually characterized by strong winds and a significant drop in temperature. Fishing can often be slow during such conditions, especially for bass.

post-spawn – The period immediately following a spawn. Post-spawn fish recovering from the spawn can often be lethargic. Post-spawn fish that have recovered from the spawn are typically hungry and aggressive.

presentation – A collective term referring to a combination of choices a fisherman makes, such as the choice of lure, color, and size, the type of pole and/or tackle used, the structure targeted, the casting technique, the retrieval technique (slow, medium, fast, stop-and-go) and even where the bait is worked in the water column (deep, shallow, top-water).

prespawn – The period of time immediately before the spawn when fish are often feeding more aggressively.

professional overrun – A more polite term for backlash. Also called spaghetti.

Pro – Professional anglers: those elite fishermen who make a living at fishing, typically by fishing tournaments.

put-in – Denotes a boat launching area for the start of a float trip.

put-and-take – Refers to a fishery where catchable-sized fish are stocked (typically trout but not exclusively) and caught by anglers in a relatively short period of time. For instance, the state’s urban program lakes are prime examples of popular put-and-take fisheries.

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ramp – Also referred to as a boat ramp or launch ramp. It is the launch-retrieve area for a boat.

Rapala – A brand or lures.

redd – An individual nest or depression in the gravel excavated by trout other members of the trout and salmon family for depositing eggs. Multiple redds make up a bed.

reservoir – Artificially created lake where water is collected and stored; also called an impoundment.

re-stocking – The practice of releasing hatchery-reared fish from the hatcheries into ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes.

riprap – A man-made stretch of rocks or material of a hard composition that usually extends above and below the shoreline, often found near dams of big impoundments.

riverbank – The bank or banks of a river.

riverbed – There area or channel between the banks through which a river flows.

rollcast (n., v., adj.) – A type of fly-casting technique in which the line is not cast above the water, but instead rolled over with the line lying on the water.

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saddle – A thin piece of land that extends out (sometimes an extended point) from the shoreline and connects to an island (sometimes underwater), reef or a hump. Submerged saddles can hold lots of fish.

salmon eggs – A type of egg bait typically used for trout fishing.

San Juan worms – A type of wet fly designed to look like a small aquatic worm that was popularized on the San Juan River in New Mexico, but is also used at Lees Ferry, the Lower Salt River and other riverine trout fisheries.

seine net – A rectangular fishing net designed to hang vertically in the water, the ends being drawn together to encircle fish.

selective harvest – Deciding to release or keep fish based on species, size, relative abundance, or culinary plans.

shad – Any of several species of forage fish that have a rather deep body.

shiner – A member of the shiner family often used for bait.

shoal – A submerged ridge, bank, or bar.

shore-fishing, shore-fish – Fishing from the shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat or wading.

short strike – When a fish hits at a lure and misses it.

slack line – The loose line from the tip of the rod to the lure. This can be a slight bow in the line to an excess of line lying on the water. The opposite is fishing with a tight line, such as when using a drop shot outfit.

Sight-cast, sight-casting, sight-fish, sight-fishing – The technique of casting and fishing when the fish are spotted first.

size limit – The legal length a fish must be is it is in possession (kept). Some fisheries have slot limits, where fish in the specified slot size range cannot be possessed.

skipping – A method of suing small lures and casting them hard and at a low angle to the water to make them skip, like a flat stone.

slip-float – A float rigged with a tin stop or bead on the line to make it stop at a pre-determined depth.

slip-sinker – A lead, zinc or steel weight with a hole through the center that allows it to slide freely up and down the fishing line. A slip sinker provides the weight for casting, yet allows the bait to move freely.

slot – A fishing size limit where the angler may keep fish shorter than a minimum length but longer than an upper length limit. For instance, a slot limit of 13 to 16 inches means you must, by regulation practice catch-and-release on the fish in the slot. Slot limits are special regulations used on specific bodies of water.

slough ­­– A long, narrow stretch of water such as a small stream or feeder tributary off a lake or river.

slow roll (or slow rolling) – A spinnerbait presentation in which the lure is retrieved slowly through and over cover and objects. A trailer bait is often on the hook.

slush bait – A top-water plug with flat or pointed head.

snagging – A method of catching fish by jerking an unbaited hook through the water.

soft bottom – River or lake bottoms which are comprised of soft material, such as silt, mud, or muck.

sonar – An acronym derived from the expression “sound navigation and ranging.” Refers to the method or equipment for determining by underwater sound techniques the presence, location or nature of objects in the water. Fish finders use sonar.

spider jig – A type of leadhead jig with a skirt, much like the one on a spinnerbait.

spider trolling – Trolling with several rods at once.

spincaster – A manner of fishing employing a push-button, closed-faced spinning reel or baitcasting rod; the reel is mounted topside on the rod.

spin-casting, spin-cast – Sometimes called American spinning, or closed face spinning. Uses a fixes spool enclosed in a nose cone so the line leaving the reel’s nose cone comes out straight.

spinnerbait – An artificial bait consisting of a leadhead and one or two rotating blades and either a straight or a safety-pin style shaft dressed with material (often called a skirt).

spinning – A manner of fishing employing an open-face or closed-face spinning reel and spinning rod; reel is mounted on the underside of the rod and the rod guides are also on the underside of the rod.

Spinning reel – A fixed spool reel, generally referring to open-faces spinning.

Split shot, split-shotting – A style of finesse fishing employing a split shot weight up the line typically 6 to 18 inches above a small artificial worm, lizard, crawfish or grub, usually rigged Texas-style (hook concealed in the bait).

spook – Alarming a fish, such as making too much noise, movement or casting a shadow so fish become “spooked.”

stained – A discoloration of the water usually occurring after a heavy rain or significant runoff. Some shorelines can have stained water from wind and rain action causing shoreline erosion. Bass especially can often hide and feed in those bands of discoloration.

starboard – the right side of a boat or ship.

stick bait – A slender plug or topwater lure that is given action by the angler manipulating the rod and reel, sometimes making the bait go back-and-forth to resemble a wounded shad, which is called “walking the dog.”

stickups – Tips of trees and brush that “stick up” from the water and provide structure, primarily for bass fishing.

still-fishing, still-fisherman – Fishing from one spot; primarily refers to shore-fishing from a single location.

stink bait – Bait, such as chicken liver, that puts odor into the water, typically for catfishing.

stinger-hook – An additional hook placed on a lure, spinnerbait or bait rig; also called a trailer hook.

stocking – The practice of releasing hatchery raised fish into ponds, reservoirs, streams or rivers. Stocking is often necessary in waters where the fishing pressure exceeds the natural fish reproduction capabilities.

stragglers – Bass that remain behind following a general migration.

strain – A group of related individuals created through selective breeding and that is genetically different from other strains of the same species.

stream – A body of running water.

streambed – The channel being occupied or formerly occupied by a stream.

structure – Changes in the shape of the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially those that influence fish behavior. Examples include flooded roadbeds, washes, arroyos, humps, ledges and drop-offs.

Sunfish – Any of a dozens of members of the sunfish family, including largemouth bass, bluegill, redear and crappie.

suspended fish – Fish at mid-level depths, neither on the surface nor on the bottom.

swim bladder – A gas-filled sac found in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony fishes.

swimming lures – Sinking-type artificial baits designed to resemble a swimming baitfish. Such plus vibrate or wobble during retrieve and some have built-in rattles. Also called lipless crankbaits.

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tail-spinners – Compact, lead-bodied lures with one or two spinner blades attached to the tail and a treble hook suspended from the body.

tagging – Marking or attached a tag to an individual or group of individual fish so that it can be identified on recapture. Tagging is used by a biologist to study the movement, migration, population size or activity patterns of fish.

take-out – A term describing the point where boats are taken out of the water at the end of a float trip.

terminal tackle – Angling equipment, excluding artificial baits, attached to the end of a fishing line; examples include hooks, snaps, swivels, snap-swivels, sinkers, floats, and plastic beads.

Texas rig (Texas-rigged) – The method of securing a hook to a soft-plastic bait, such as a worm, lizard or crawfish, so that the hook is weedless (doesn’t protrude). Typically, a slip sinker (often a bullet sinker) is threaded onto the line and then a hook is tied to the end of the fish line. The hook (often an offset hook) is inserted into the head of the soft-plastic bait for about one-quarter of an inch and brought through until only the eye is still embedded in the soft-plastic bait. The hook is then rotated and the point is embedded slightly into the body of the soft-plastic worm without coming out the opposite side. Many anglers try to ensure the bait stays straight once it is Texas-rigged.

thermocline – A distinct layer of water where rising warm and sinking cold water meet but do not mix. It is a layer of water where the temperature changes at least one-half a degree per foot of depth. In many of our desert bass lakes, a thermocline often develops during the spring and breaks down in the fall. The colder layer of water is often lacking in oxygen, forcing most baitfish and sport-fish to the upper layer of water. Thermoclines can be so dense that they actually show up on sonar (fish finders and depth finders) as a thick, impenetrable line.

tight-action plug – A lure with short, rapid side-to-side movement. Typically used when fish are more active in spring, summer and fall.

tiptop – Line guide at the tip end of a fishing rod.

topwater – The technique of using topwater lures for catching fish, especially bass at the water’s surface. Topwater lures are floating hard baits or plugs that create some degree of surface disturbance during the retrieve, typically mimicking struggling or wounded baitfish on the surface.

trailer hook – The extra hook or cheater hook added to a single-hook lure, such as a spinnerbait or weedless spoon. Also called a stinger hook.

transducer — A device that converts electrical energy to sound energy, or the reverse. Typically associated with depth finders or fish finders.

transition – These are where one type of bottom material or structure changes to another, for instance, a rock pile to solid rock, or sand to gravel. There can also be transition zones, such as mud lines where a river enters a lake. Fish can often be found in transition zones.

treble hook – A hook with a single or bundled shaft and three points.

tributary – A creek, stream, or river that feeds a larger stream or river, or lake.

triggering – Using a lure-retrieval technique that causes a sport-fish to react and strike. For instance, quickly speeding up a retrieve and then stopping. Can also referred to as causing a reaction bite.

trolling – Towing a lure or several lures behind a boat. When a fish is caught on the trolled lure, the boat is typically stopped and the fish is reeled in.

trolling motor – A small electric fishing motor, typically mounted on the bow, which is used as secondary means of propulsion for positioning or maneuvering a boat quietly in fishing areas.

tubing – A float fishing term that means to float down a river, stream or using a float tube in a lake while fishing.

turnover – The warmer layer of water at the surface cools down, and becomes colder than or as cold as the distinct layer of coldwater below. The result is that the two layers of water mix, eliminating the thermocline and creating a fairly uniform water temperature and perhaps introducing oxygen to the lower levels of the lake. This fall turnover action can result in bottom sediments nutrients being stirred up by the water movement, sometimes stimulating algal growth. The fall turnover typically signals the transition to winter fishing conditions.

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ultralight – Lighter than standard fishing rod and/or tackle.

ventral fin – The paired fin located on the front of a fish’s abdomen.

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warmwater – Refers to fish habitat or fish that are warmwater species, such as largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish, as opposed to coldwater species such as trout, grayling and salmon or cool-water species such as northern pike and walleye.

water column – Vertical section of the lake.

water dog – Any of several large salamanders (the larval or aquatic stage). They are popular as live bait.

weedguard – A protective device on fishing hooks to prevent picking up weeds.

weedless – A description of a lure designed to be fished in heavy cover with a minimum amount of snagging. Various strategies are often employed to make a lure weedless.

weed line – Abrupt edge of an aquatic weed-bed caused by a change in depth, bottom type, or other factor.

weigh-in – Term typically applied to the weighing in of fish at a tournament.

wet fly – A fly fished underwater.

worm-fishing (worm-fisherman) – The act of using worms, either natural or man-made, to catch fish, although the term worming typically refers to the act of using artificial worms to catch fish.

wooly worm, or wooly bugger – A popular type of wet fly often used by fly anglers fishing lakes.

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year class – Fish of a given species that were all spawned in the same year or at the same time.

young-of-the-year – refers to fish in their first year of life, often referring to immature fish.

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zooplankton – Animals (mostly microscopic) that drift freely in the water column.

zug bug – A type of wet fly or fly pattern commonly used by fly fishers in lakes.