When fishing, how long should you wait after the fish first bites to try and reel it in?

I have been fishing a few times now. Sometimes when I feel a fish biting, I reel in too soon and it goes away. Is there anyway to make sure that the fish is caught on the hook and when should I start trying to reel it in after I feel the bite?
I go fishing in a river with live worms.

Powered by http://answers.yahoo.com

Bites are few, far between off New Jersey coast

Bites are few, far between off New Jersey coast
I almost feel like I am doing a fresh water fishing column rather than one looking at salt water. That is because most of the action here at the Jersey shore lately has centered about what fresh water anglers call panfish. Wandering the docks last Saturday it was like everyone was fishing in the exact same place and were catching the exact same fish. There were plenty of bluefish, but two pounds …

Read more on The Mercury