With warmer temperatures on the way and many cooped up folks beginning to look forward a trip to the beach, the opportunity for you to learn how to surf fish on your next vacation to the coastal outdoors is ripening quickly. Because it doesn’t require a boat – just special tackle and a solid casting shoulder – just about anyone can get into the sport of surf fishing. Aside from the opportunity to catch some monster saltwater fish, surf fishing will keep you engaged and excited for hours. After all, you’re at the beach! Use this introductory guide to surf fishing to learn the details on equipment and techniques.
Fishing from the beach requires exceedingly long casts (unless you’re targeting innocent swimmers). Therefore, some special heavy duty tackle is needed to do it properly. Most outdoor stores near the coast will carry a vast array of surf rods, but for beginner purposes, you’ll want to pick up a reasonably priced, eight to nine foot rod. The tip should have only some flex, and the base should feel thick and solid. The most popular reel type for surf fishing is a saltwater spinning reel. Essentially, they look like normal freshwater spinning reels – only jumbo sized. Before you buy one, make sure it has a quality drag system and smooth ball bearings.
For terminal tackle, the most versatile all around weight is around six ounces. To experienced surf fishermen, they’re known as “pyramid weights”. They’re more than a third of a pound, which sounds unreasonably heavy to the average freshwater angler. But you need that added weight to make long distance casts and keep your bait sinking against heavy currents. The type of hook you get, meanwhile, is highly dependent on the species of saltwater fish you’re going after. The four most popular surf fishing species – triped bass, bluefish, fluke, and kingfish – can all be effectively caught with medium-sized saltwater hooks and heavy line (30 pound test or so). Some additional miscellaneous tackle you’ll want to bring includes a strong pair of pliers, a small knife, and a sand spike (or rod holder).
When it comes to bait, the best bet for the beginning surf fisherman is to find a local tackle shop. Ask the cashier what’s working, and he’ll tell you – especially if you buy the bait there. In general, the most widely used surf fishing baits are cut bait, live smaller fish, and bloodworms or sandworms.
Fortunately, the technique for surf fishing is pretty straightforward. For casting, you’ll want to use a powerful overhead or sidearm cast. Once the bait is in the water, let it do the work for you. Keep presentation to a minimum, allowing the current to carry your bait to schooling fish. If and when you hook one, keep your drag set relatively low and brace yourself for a fight; saltwater fish are big, strong, and mean.
With the right tools and a little know-how, you can enjoy some very successful surf fishing on your next trip to the beach. While anyone can sip margaritas and lay in the sand – but it takes a true outdoor adventurer to give this exciting style of fishing a go. So don’t hesitate to drop a line and test your fishing skills the next time you’re enjoying the sun and the sand.