By Diana Gerstacker
TheActiveTimes.com

There's no shortage of things to love about fishing -- the serenity, the thrill of the first hard tug on the line and the pride when you pull in the biggest fish of the day are all rewarding aspects. Spending time with friends and family outdoors seems to be a big draw too, and anything that gets you outside and moving is an activity we happily endorse.

But for many people unfamiliar with fishing, it can seem too complicated to be worth the time. First there are different types of fishing, then there are techniques and don't even get us started on the gear. The sheer number of fishing products on the market is enough to turn anyone away from the sport, and then there are the not-so-fashionable waders and that token 45-pocket vest.

It can be overwhelming, but we're here to help and let you know that the vest and waders aren't mandatory -- you're welcome. There are only a handful of items that beginners truly need on their first fishing trip. Your packing list will vary with your location and target fish, but we set out a list of basics you shouldn’t be caught without.

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The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that the majority of people fishing are dropping their lines into freshwater. According to its 2014 report, freshwater fishing has lost 1 percent of its participants in the last three years but still maintained around 37,796,000 participants in 2013.

According to the same report, approximately 11,790,000 people went salt water fishing in 2013 and 5,878,000 went fly fishing. Fly fishing was the only fishing type that saw growth in the past three years, gaining 2.4 percent more participation.

Though the entire activity is not booming, 37,796,000 is no small number. Fishing is a great opportunity to get outdoors, get active and spend time with friends and family. The only thing stopping you from fishing this summer is a little bit of information and a few key pieces of gear. Consider this your first step into the world of recreational fishing.

For the complete list of the Essential Summer Fishing Gear, go to TheActiveTimes.com.

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-- Summer in Alaska: The Great Ski & Fish Adventure

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