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.
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
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
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
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
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 frontmounted 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
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
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
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.
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.
bedding – In fishing, this term refers to bedding fish during the spawning period.
bell sinker – A bell-shaped fishing weight.
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.
blind cast – Casting at no particular target.
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 catfish or carp. Refers to a
fish that feeds predominantly on the bottom, not just one that is sometimes caught on the
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.
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.
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.
catfish – A term for any of the many species of catfish, including black, blue, flathead,
channel and yellow species. Fishing for catfish can be called catfishing and a person who
fishes for catfish is a catfisherman (both one word).
channel – The bed of a stream or river. This can also refer to a submerged stream or river
channel in a reservoir.
chugger –The act of systematically working the lure across the surface is called “chugging.”
Chum/burley – To throw chum/burley (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
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
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.
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.
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.
deadfall – A tree that has fallen into the water.
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.
dip net – A net with a handle used to capture baitfish.
disgorger – Device for removing hooks deeply embedded in the throat of fish.
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
doughball – A ball of bait made from bread or specially prepared dough used for baitfishing.
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.
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.
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
eyelets – The eyelets are the line guides or rings on a fishing rod through which line is
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/fisherwoman – 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.
foul-hook – To hook a fish other than in the mouth where it should take a bait or lure.
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.
gear – Any tools used to catch fish, such as rod and reel, hook and line, nets, traps 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.
grub – A short, plastic type of worm, usually rigged with a weighed jig hook.
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.
holding area – Structure that habitually attracts and holds fish.
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.
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.
inside bend – The inside line of a grass bed or a creek channel.
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
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.
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.
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 coloured lures can be good choices.
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.
live-well – 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.
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.
mono – Short for mono-filament fishing line.
mono-filament – 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.
nares – The nostrils of fish.
night-fisherman – An angler who fishes at night.
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.
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.
pectoral fin – The fin usually found on each side of the body behind the gill opening.
pelvic fins – Pair of juxtaposed fins ventrally on the body in front of the anus.
PFD – A personal flotation device or life jacket.
pike – A common reference to northern pike, a member of the pike family.
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.
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).
Pro – Professional anglers: those elite fishermen who make a living at fishing, typically by
put-in – Denotes a boat launching area for the start of a boat trip.
ramp – Also referred to as a boat ramp or launch ramp. It is the launch-retrieve area for a
shoal – A submerged ridge, bank, or bar.
shore-fishing, shore-fish – Fishing from the shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat or
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.
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.
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.
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 top water 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.”
stinger-hook – An additional hook placed on a lure, spinner bait or bait rig; also called a
stream – A body of running water.
structure – Changes in the shape of the bottom of lakes, rivers, or impoundments, especially
those that influence fish behaviour. Examples include flooded roadbeds, washes, arroyos,
humps, ledges and drop-offs.
swim bladder – A gas-filled sac found in the upper part of the body cavity of many bony
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.
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
transducer -- A device that converts electrical energy to sound energy, or the reverse.
Typically associated with depth finders or fish finders.
treble hook – A hook with a single or bundled shaft and three points.
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 manoeuvring a boat quietly in fishing
ultralight – Lighter than standard fishing rod and/or tackle.
ventral fin – The paired fin located on the front of a fish’s abdomen.
weedguard – A protective device on fishing hooks to prevent picking up weeds.
weigh-in – Term typically applied to the weighing in of fish at a tournament.
zug bug – A type of wet fly or fly pattern commonly used by fly fishers in lakes.