Surf fishing may be one of the most difficult types of fishing, but can be
extremely rewarding in the end. If you don't have a salty old fisherman to
personally show you the ropes, keep these things in mind the next time you hit
If you have the opportunity, scope out the beach before you fish.
Look for sandbars, possible holes and troughs. These are key areas for
most surf fishing.
Any time you see diving birds, you can bet there are fish to be caught.
Where there are birds, there are baitfish. Where there are baitfish,
there are probably big fish looking for a snack.
White water can mean a sandbar or baitfish breaking the surface.
Oil on the water can mean bigger fish are eating baitfish under the surface.
Fish from jetties or along them if available.
Saltwater fish will feed off of the sides of sandbars and against
Sandbars will often have a break in-between them. Fish
will swim through this and feed inside the slough, or pool of water between
the sandbar and the beach. You can recognize the break by flatter
water, water flowing like a riptide through the bars, rippling water that
lacks a breaking wave or white water.
Any structure, whether man-made or natural (sandbars, drops...) will be
preferred by saltwater fish for protection and feeding.
Try to fish when then current is either flowing in or out, with a rising
high tide being the most productive.
Nighttime fishing is an excellent time for successful angling.
Dark plugs should be used at night and light plugs used during the day.
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Bait and Tackle
Fresh bait tends to work better than artificial. Saltwater fish depend on
their sense of smell to survive. Fish will inevitably go toward the fresh
smelling food when offered a choice between that and plastics. Fresh bait
can include mullet, shrimp, squid, bloodworms, clams, menhaden, live eels and
mole crabs. Go to your local bait shop to find out what is currently being
caught and on what bait.
One of the most common forms of saltwater tackle is the two hook bottom rig.
If dragging your rig along the surface for fish such as flounder, use a rounded
weight for a smooth pull. Successful saltwater lures include metal
spoons (bluefish, spanish mackerel), lead head jigs with plastics (puppy drum,
weakfish and speckled trout), swimming plugs (striped bass, weakfish, bluefish),
topwater plugs (used when fish are feeding baitfish on the surface), bucktails
(weakfish, speckled trout, founders, striper) and mirrorlures (speckled trout
and puppy drum). Lures can be "sweetened" with a small piece of fresh
So now that you have read the beach, purchased your tackle and bait and put
on your sunscreen, go hit the beach and have fun!