Surf Fishing Basics

By Cody Larrimore

Often times a novice surf fisherman will stare white-faced at the crashing waves and extensive blue water that spans the horizon. It’s an intimidating site when you don’t know what to look for or where to go. Having no idea where to cast your bait or lures is equivalent to not knowing where to put your treestand or blind – you’re hoping for luck. It doesn’t have to be this way. Every beach will show specific characteristics that are obvious or not so obvious signs of where to fish. Understanding these characteristics and knowing how to interpret them is essential in surf fishing.

A slough or “highway” is a low area cut out in the sand that runs perpendicular to the beach. This is where fish swim up and down looking for bait – crabs, shrimp, bait fish, etc. Locating highways is easiest at low tide as it’s the only calm water sitting between the beach and the sandbar. There can be multiple highways at any point on the beach. If you see waves breaking at multiple points straight out, then it’s likely there is another highway past the first surf break.

Once you locate a promising highway, it’s time to look a little further. Fish may travel this highway, but they need a way in and out. They can do this by using a “break.” Breaks are easily discovered after watching the waves for just a few minutes. You’re looking for a section in the sandbar where the waves roll over, yet don’t crest. If the waves continue to roll, and not crest, you’ve found a cut in the bar – a break. Additional signs of the break include rippling water, visible current and discolored water.

Highways are not the only beach formations that attract and hold fish. Currents and strong wind also rip through the water causing points. Often at these points, the water will be deep on one side thus making it a perfect location for fish to hold. A well portrayed point most times holds fish like objects on the bottom of a relatively smooth ocean floor. The main objective for finding a site for surf fishing is to find an area different than the rest.

Hard structures such a jetties, docks, and piers are also great places for fish to hold up, however most are usually more crowded with surf anglers compared to locations along the beach.

Here are a few simple tips for surf fishing:

The best time to surf fish is high tide, this is when all fish come in to feed and scavenge. It’s even better if high tide falls around dawn or dusk.

The best rigs for surf fishing are hands-down the fish finder rig and the drop rig. Both are prepackaged at most local surf shops.

If you have the opportunity, do your homework. Talk to locals about the hot bait for the time of year you’re fishing. Venture out the evening or morning before to see if you can notice any of the highways or breaks so you know where to head on your fishing trip.

Birds’ feeding in the water is a sure sign of baitfish. Get there as fast as you can and get a line in the water. Often enough there are larger fish beneath pushing the baitfish to the surface.

Beach formations are consistently changing. Keep that in mind as you scan the beach for the perfect spot. What location worked a week ago could have shifted to a similar formation 100 yards down the beach. Keep your eyes continuously scanning and be prepared to move if you’ve seen little action.

Via: All Outdoor

Category: Fishing, fishing, Surf fishing