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What is Surf Fishing? — All the Answers You Need

What is Surf Fishing? — All the Answers You Need
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Fishing is one of the very interesting sports that can be fun in so many ways, and the fun just got even bigger with surf fishing.

Many anglers speak well of the fun and thrills of this kind of fishing on the beach — the beach sand on your feet and the gentle sounds of the waves.

So, what is surf fishing?

Surf fishing is the sport that involves standing on the shoreline, or walking through the water in the surf to catch fish. Surf fishing may or may not include casting a lure or bait. It refers to all types of shore fishing: sandy and rocky beaches, rock jetties, and fishing piers.

While boat fishing can be fun, surf fishing is not only fun but also healthy and relaxing. However, it is important to have a background knowledge of the factors that affect surf fishing, such as, tide, wind, weather, water temperature, season, etc. 

what is surf fishing?
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Surf Fishing Gear and Tackle – Tools Required for Surf Fishing 

Surf fishing is quite similar to fishing for carp, catfish, or bluegill in a local lake. So, in theory, you can use the same type of gear. You could go to the beach with a 7-foot long bait casting rig to practice how to cast a sinker rig out further away from the waves.

However, you may not be very successful as you might encounter problems with your reel if it is not suitable for surf fishing. So, it is highly recommended to get a rod, reel, and tackle kit that is specifically made for surf fishing. 

1. Surf Rod 

Rod length is one of the important factors that determines how far you will be able to cast. You will need a long rod as most surf rods are somewhat long. A long rod enables you to cast your lure out about 100 to 200 yards to get it further away from the crashing waves. Rods used by most anglers for boat fishing or freshwater are usually about 6 to 8 feet long, while surf rods are usually between 9 and 15 feet.

Knowing how to use a rod this long needs some practice. So, it is advisable for beginners to select a rod with medium power and medium action. A 10 -foot to 12-foot long rod should suffice. 

Check out these Surf Graphite Rods on Amazon

2. Surf Reel, Main Line, and Leaders

You do not have to go for a very expensive reel. Just focus on getting a fishing reel with a high capacity. You may also want to consider opting for spinning gear if you are new to surf fishing.

You should also consider choosing a high-quality fishing line for your reel. Many surf fishers use the regular monofilament for their mainline, but you can use the fluorocarbon. The reason is that most of the fishes that will get caught are big. So, you will need a 20 to 25-pound test line for this purpose.

There is also a need for a shock leader as you will be fishing from the shore. A shock leader helps to take in the stress that heavy weights and long casts place on the line. It is typically made from low-stretch monofilament, and are available in varying diameters.

That being said, your rig type lets you know if you need other leaders. There might be a need for a leader that stretches between the end of the shock leader and the sinker. There might also be a need for another leader that zooms off the mainline and ties to the sinker through a three-way swivel. This is why a fluorocarbon leader is considered the best choice for this purpose. Although, monofilament can work as well.

Buy this Surf Fishing Reel on Amazon

3. Tackle and Rigs

In most surf fishing, fishermen make use of living or cut bait. They will typically attach the bait to any type of sinker rig from the varied options. To tie one of the rigs, you will need a different pyramid-style sinker, some swivels (including two and three-way pieces), a shock leader, a fluorocarbon leader, and some hooks.

There are several surf fishing sinker rigs to choose from. However, you can decide to make your own sinker rig.

To make your own sinker rig:

  1. Tie a length of your shock leader to your mainline. You can tie the shock leader directly to the mainline in two ways: (a) using an Albright special knot (b) tying it to a two-way barrel swivel with a Uni knot.
  1. Tie a 4-8 ounce pyramid sinker to the end of the shock leader. Then, tie the tip end of the shock leader to a barrel swivel using another Uni knot. 
  1. Take your fluorocarbon leader and tie it to the other side of the barrel swivel using another Uni knot. Pick up your hook and tie it to the opposite end of the leader using an Improved Clinch knot or Palomar knot.
  1. Circle hooks are highly recommended for beginners because they make the fish hook itself. However, treble hooks are also very effective.
  1. The bait you decide to use depends on your location and target species. Popular bait choices include cut squid, mullet, whole shrimp, clams, bloodworms, and sand fleas that can be found in the beach itself. If you are fishing for big fishes e.g. sharks, you might use mullets or stingrays.
  1. As a beginner, go for the cut squid or mullet. Not only do they produce bites along shorelines, but also attract a wide variety of gamefish. 
  1. Lures can also be used to fish from the shore. However, they are not easy to use compared to cut or live bait. Spoons are effective as well, so as crankbaits, plugs, and jigs.
Check out this Pyramid Sinker Weights on Amazon

4. Tools

You will need some tools for surf fishing too. Most anglers go with an extensive set of tools, but in case you are surf fishing newbie, then a set of these tools will be useful to have:

  1. A pair of needle-nosed pliers that have built-in cutting blades for removing hooks, cutting lines, and doing other things that are similar to these mentioned tasks.
  2. A knife for cutting bait, lines, and cleaning fish.
  3. A sand spike to hold your rod as you wait for a bite. A sand spike is a 3-foot long piece with a sharp end that you put inside the sand.
  4. A cooler to keep the caught fishes cold until you are through.
  5. A surf cart to help to move your fishing gear down to the water (optional)
  6. A hat to protect you from the sun, appropriate beach shoes, a pair of polarized glasses, sunscreen, and other necessary clothing you might need.
Check out this Heavy-Duty Collapsible Beach Wagon Cart on Amazon

Surf Fishing Techniques

  1. Surf fishing is just like any other form of fishing. It might seem difficult until you get the hang of it. Different anglers have different methods of carrying out their surf fishing activity. Just know that the basic things you will need include a good fishing spot, fishing gear, and baited rig.
  1. Once you have picked a good spot, try as much as possible to learn everything about that location. If you do not know where to start, look at the location other surf fishermen fish from. Start fishing from there, but try to leave a distance of about 50 to 100 yards between you and the closest anglers.
  1. From here, it is time to cast. Avoid throwing your rig off to the horizon. Just make sure your cast gets your rig further away from the bulk of crashing waves. With time and practice, you will learn more about your casting distance. As soon as the rig has settled into the sand in the water, close the bail on your reel.
  1. The next thing is to wait for a bite. It might take a while to attract a fish, so if you are not up to holding your rod for a long time, you can slide it down into a sand spike. Sand spikes are useful for anglers who carry several rods with them to use them at the same time.
  1. Now, you can sit back and relax as you wait for a bite. As time goes on, you might notice the tip of your rod bending forward – that means you have gotten a fish. If you used a circle hook, the fish might hook itself. However, it is better to pull your rod back a little bit to be sure that the fish is rightly hooked. 

Surf Fishing Tips

  1. To surf fish in some states, you need to get a fishing license. Ensure to check the fishing regulations of your state first before venturing on your surf fishing trip.
  2. Use a pair of polarized glasses that can cut through any glare to enable you to spot fish in the water.
  3. If you plan to wear chest waders, wear an elastic wading belt with it. It will prevent water from entering inside the chest wader if you fall.
  4. Natural baits are the most effective; they also work well for different species of fish. Examples include shrimp, squid, and mullet. You can start with these.
  5. Keep your baits inside a cooler or bait bucket. Do not keep them out in the sun or they will become less attractive to the fishes.

Need a tutorial on how to surf fish? Check out the video below:

When is the Best Time to Go Surf Fishing?

Saltwater tides and weather are factors that help to determine the best times to go surf fishing. It is quite possible for fishes to bite anytime during the day. However, the best time to go surf fishing is when the tide is either rising or falling.

In the hottest months of the year, surf fishing should be done in the early morning or late afternoon when the tide is either rising or falling. During winter, the best times to go surf fishing are the days preceding a cold front.

The Best Places to Go Surf Fishing

If you are still thinking about the best places to surf fish, you can fish almost anywhere provided it is along the beach or shoreline.

Here are more specific areas you may want to consider for surf fishing.

1. Deep holes.

If you are up to it, visit a local beach when the tide is low, and look for the deep holes. During low tide, the bottom features will be easier to see because the water levels would have dropped. Consider putting your baits in the deep holes to get a catch.

2. Jetties.

Jetties are those spots around the beach that look rocky. Rock jetties are one of the best places to surf fish because rocks usually hold a lot of baitfish that bigger fishes like to feed on. If you get a spot, make some casts at different depths until you find out the particular place in the water the fishes are feeding.

Do not forget that tide, wind, and other surf conditions will change as time goes, making the bite turn on or off periodically. So, try different areas until you start getting bites again.

If you ever consider taking out time to explore surf fishing in the United States, consider states like California, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and North Carolina which offer opportunities for a big catch if you decide to go surf fishing there. 

Check out these other articles and guides on Zimfishing:

What is Surf Fishing? — Conclusion

Surf fishing equals fun and healthy fishing. This sport is pretty straightforward. As a beginner, there is no need to worry about spending so much. All you need is knowledge, practice, and the right tools. The only thing you might get is a fishing gear that is specifically made for surf fishing.

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