Cliff Pace, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic Champion, has one simple tip for beginning fishermen of all ages.

"I know this may sound too simple, but I always give the same answer to that kind of question," said Pace, of Petal. "You can practice knot tying, you can practice casting, you can practice anything, but nothing beats time on the water. 

"My best advice to anyone who wants to start fishing is to spend as much time fishing as you can. Nothing is more important than getting the feel of actually fishing." 

That said, Pace agrees with most experts when it comes to first getting involved in the sports, and this is especially true with children.

"Keep it simple when you're starting," he said. "You want to spend as much time as you can studying the environment that you are fishing and how fish are reacting in that environment." 

That can't be done, said Shannon Denson of Brandon, if one is in over his or her head worrying with tackle that is too sophisticated.

"I'd recommend getting something simple like a push-button spincast reel like a Zebco 33 or a spinning reel, and not jump into a bait-casting reel where you have to worry about backlashing," Denson said. "You can buy those kind of reels in a packaged combination with a matching rod. 

"Most starting fishermen are not going to have boats and are going to be fishing from the banks. With that in mind, I'd suggest starting with a simple lure, like a spinnerbait, and walking up and down the bank casting and reeling, and getting the feel of that." 

Scott McGehee of Madison said learning how to fish should be a simple progression through the different stages. 

"It's like Shannon said, start simple with something like a spinnerbait and spincasting equipment and once you get that down, then it's time to move on to something else like a worm or a crankbait.

"Then you just continue progressing, but as you do, you might consider investing in your first bait-cast (level wind) reel. Sooner or later, if you're going to be serious about bass fishing, you'll have to learn to use a bait cast."

McGehee recommends that a first bait-cast reel should be one of good quality. 

"Don't just go out and buy something cheap that isn't going to be any good," he said. "You don't have to spend $150 or $200 but you don't want a cheap one either. It'll just frustrate you." 

While you continue to fish and learn with the spin-cast or spinning combo, spend a few hours a week in the backyard practicing with the bait-cast, McGehee said. 

"Don't buy it and immediately head to the lake thinking you can cast it, because you won't be able to," he said. "I speak from experience. There's not a pro bass fishermen alive who didn't have trouble throwing a bait-cast reel the first time. I know I did." 

Bass pro Pete Ponds of Madison offered an extra tip about any reel one chooses. 

"Sit down and learn how to operate the drag system properly," Ponds said. "I really think that knowing how to set and use a drag is as important as anything else you need to do. 

"It's easy to do, too. Read the instructions that come with the reel and learn how to operate the drag. But you have to learn how to properly feel when the drag is set correctly and the only way to do that is by hand. Pull the line until it feels like it is about to break. The reel's drag gears should start to slip just before the line breaks." 

Crappie expert Rabbit Rogers of Brandon said that beginning perch jerkers should have a boat. 

"It's not like bass fishing," he said. "Bass like shallow water and you can walk the bank of any sized lake and find bass. Crappie are more deep-water oriented. 

"When I talk basics, I start with putting together a good crappie boat, and there are only two critical factors. You need a good quiet trolling motor with a solid mount and you need a depth-finder. You want a trolling motor that doesn't rattle and as far as the depth-finder goes, I suggest keeping it simple." 

As for crappie tackle, Rogers suggests investing in a B&M 11- or 12-foot jig pole. 

"The reel doesn't matter," he said. "I would start with 8-pound line and I like gold because you need to be able to see the line. Then get you some jigs and go find some deep structure to jig around."

As for the jigs ...

"I'd start with chartreuse and then I'd get chartreuse or something that is a combination of chartreuse and something else," said David Thornton of Vicksburg. "Chartreuse always works."