My grandparents were avid anglers. It was almost a moral imperative in our family that every child received their first Donald Duck or Nemo fishing pole by the time they were three. I remember a time when everyone looked forward to camping and fishing more than Christmas itself.
Back then those with only a Bamboo pole, a string, and a simple worm attached to the hook caught as many fish as those of us with expensive equipment with silly named tackle. There are some States where fishing, with a plain Bamboo pole, doesn’t require a license.
As for the question of ‘River vs Lake’ fishing, you can use the same rod, reel and bait for either. The only difference is that the lake trout tend to be larger, which would explain those exaggerated fish stories of “I swear it was a 20 pounder and it was this big!”
We have had success with either worms or Velveeta cheese on a treble hook no matter where we were. However, nothing beats a Lindy Fuzz-E Grub in the late afternoon/evenings on the river or fishing from the banks of the lake.
Now for beginners who want to use crank/spinner baits, might I recommend a Strike King Bitsy Minnow ($4.49 @StrikeKing.com) the ease of use makes it great starter bait for kids and adults. What bait is best depends on where in the country your fishing. So, ask a local angler. He or she will usually share some secrets but only if you ask nicely.
You can get great rod/reel and even tackle starter packages at any sporting goods store along with that State’s Fishing License and Trout Stamps (if they or you require them.) but a good reel is very important. A cheap reel will tangle up or break just as you hook that ‘big one’ and you might never want to fish again.
A beginner doesn’t want to spend a lot of money just in case fishing isn’t for you. So, may I suggest a Penn GT Level Wind 330GT2/SL2050C66 Combo rod/reel from Wal-Mart for $128.98, a decent price for a good quality and versatile beginner set? You can use many fishing techniques with this combo.
I hope you will enjoy trout fishing and if you’re really looking for sport, try Fly Fishing sometime.