Ocean Fishing Vs. Lake Fishing: A Complete Comparison

One of the most divisive questions among anglers is whether Ocean fishing is better than lake fishing and vice versa. And that is because they present different fishing conditions with unique challenges and experiences.

So after thorough research, we compiled the following comparison article on Ocean Fishing Vs. Lake Fishing: A Complete Comparison.

Ocean and lake fishing guarantee different fishing experiences thanks to the diverse conditions. Therefore, you will need extra fishing gear and learn other fishing techniques; after all, the waves in the ocean are more potent than the ones on the lake.

Fishing is an excellent activity to help you forget about your tedious week. Still, before packing for your weekend fishing getaway, you must understand that ocean and lake fishing are different.

This article will show the difference between the two and what you need to succeed when fishing in the ocean or the lake.

Ocean Fishing vs. Lake Fishing

Big game fishing. Caught a marlin jumping near the boat.

Lakes and oceans are enormous water bodies, but oceans occupy a more extensive area than lakes. Therefore, even though they are both vast, they have different flora and fauna.

Unlike most lakes, which have freshwater, all oceans have high salt concentrations; therefore, even the fish species found in lakes are different.

And despite being fresh, saltwater fish taste different than freshwater fish. Freshwater fish are species that spend their entire life in waters whose salinity is less than 1.05%. Therefore, these two types of fish have numerous physical and nutritional differences. 

In terms of depths, the lakes are shallower than the oceans. The average depth of oceans is about 13,000 ft; therefore, you may need a long fishing line to catch some fish species. 

Another factor affecting your fishing style is that oceans have stronger waves than lakes. Therefore, you may need heavier lines and stronger rods that cannot easily break when reeling a catch in with the strong waves.

In addition, the strong winds can make it hard for you to sit calmly on the boat and cast your line.

Ocean Fishing vs. Lake Fishing: The Difference

Fishing rod lake fisherman men sport summer lure sunset water outdoor sunrise fish

As aforementioned, the numerous environmental, physical, and ecological differences between lakes and oceans make fishing in these two water bodies fun.

But you have to be an experienced angler to handle ocean fishing. So here are some of the critical differences that you must know before trying ocean or lake fishing:

The Fishing Process

The fishing process also varies; you must go offshore to capture huge fish with ocean fishing. After all, the fish close to shore are small; therefore, you must venture into less crowded spots to get the right size and type of fish.

Lakes are calmer than oceans; you don’t have to go offshore to get a calm fishing spot. Of course, you can catch a huge fish from the shore, but if you’re up for an adventure, you can try boat fishing.

Getting lost in the ocean can be easy, so you must get a guide before taking your boat offshore. On the other hand, lakes are calm and not as big as oceans; therefore, the chances of your boat floating to an unknown place are slim.

You won’t struggle much when casting your line or reeling in your catch. 

Difference in Fish

Despite the size of fish, you’re looking for, there is no way around oceans having bigger fish than lakes. It means you will need greater strength to reel them in, let alone catch them. But if you’re a beginner and uncomfortable handling fish bigger than snappers, you should avoid the ocean.

Some lakes have big fish that can give you a great fight, but ocean fish are huge, and at times you can catch a fish as huge as 80 pounds. Luckily, ocean and lake fishing can guarantee a fresh catch every time.

Another difference between saltwater and freshwater fish is that ocean fish have huge bone structures than lakes. Therefore, deboning them can be more straightforward.

The Fishing Rod

Fishing Rods Lined Up Along a Pier.

A fishing rod is a must-have gear for any fishing trip, but the rods used in lakes and oceans differ greatly. Saltwater fishing rods are larger and longer than freshwater rods and are made from flexible fiberglass.

The fiberglass fishing rods are designed to withstand saltwater and deal with the tension and force associated with ocean fishing.

Saltwater fishing rods are bigger since you will be dealing with bigger fish. After all, the bigger the fish, the harder it fights after biting the bait. Longer rods are flexible and can accommodate the weight of the huge fish when it’s being reeled in.

The ocean water is also corrosive, so you need a rust-resistant rod. Luckily, you can also use a saltwater fishing rod in freshwater lakes. But you can’t use freshwater rods in the oceans, and if you have to, make sure you wash it thoroughly when you get home. 


Even though anglers can use natural baits in either ocean or lake fishing, it is more common with offshore angling. Freshwater fishing doesn’t require any unique bait, but saltwater anglers need a special kind of bait.

Saltwater anglers use parts of a fish, chum, or even a whole crab to attract and capture a fish.

Is Ocean Fishing Easier?

Man Fishing From Rocks in an Ocean.

Well, the answer to this question depends on your fishing experience. If you have just started fishing, ocean fishing can be tough for you. Instead, it would be best to try lake fishing, where it’s calm, and you can improve your skills while catching smaller fish. 

Ocean fishing has numerous challenges that can make it hard for a beginner to catch anything. Besides fighting with the huge fish you have caught, you will also fight the salty weather conditions and strong winds.

Therefore, casting the line accurately maybe even challenging for beginners. 

Remember, saltwater fish in the ocean tend to be better fighters than most lake fish. So you have to be stronger and more experienced to reel them in.

Therefore, ocean fishing is ideal for experienced anglers; if you’re learning to fish, you should avoid the ocean. While lakes have waves, the huge waves in the oceans can make it hard for you to be calm and stable enough to catch something.


Is Freshwater Fish Better Than Saltwater Fish?

The fish will be delicious whether fishing in the lake or the ocean since it’s fresh. In addition, saltwater fish have huge bones; therefore, deboning them can be easier than freshwater fish with smaller bones.

So if you plan on enjoying your catch faster, you should go for the saltwater fish, which can be prepared and consumed more quickly. 

Why Does Saltwater Fish Fight Harder Than Freshwater Fish?

You may have noticed that ocean fish are bigger and fight harder than lake fish as an angler. And that is because the ocean fish are stronger since they must deal with the huge waves daily. The fact that they are big means that they are stronger than lake fish.

Ocean Fishing vs. Lake Fishing: Which Is the Best Option for Beginners?

Lakes and ocean fishing provide different fishing experiences, with deep-sea fishing being more challenging.

Oceans have stronger waves and bigger and stronger fish which can be challenging for beginners. Therefore, as a beginner, you need a calm freshwater lake to learn and perfect your fishing skills. 


Even though they guarantee you a fresh catch every time, ocean and lake fishing differ. Besides the fact that you will be dealing with varying fish species, you will also have to work harder when fishing in the ocean since deep-sea fish are bigger.

The huge and strong waves in the ocean also make it hard for beginners to cast their lines, but experienced anglers love the challenge.

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

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