Surf fishing season is upon us, and as the weather warms up fishermen of all ages and skill sets are flocking to the shoreline. While many people are sure to try out surf fishing this season, not all will be successful. There are different strategies when it comes to surf fishing - different anglers prefer different types of rods, baits, and lures. There are even those who opt for drone fishing rather than traditional surf fishing.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a first-time fisher, these surf fishing tips can help you find success and stay safe.
1/Find the Right Surf Fishing Rod
Finding the right fishing rod for surf fishing depends on a few factors. The longer the fishing rod, the longer you’ll probably be able to cast, so if you’re aiming to cast long distances, a longer rod is better.
Your choice of fishing rod also depends on whether you use live bait or lures. When using lures, a shorter rod is preferred, as you’ll have better cast and retrieve action and control. For those casting lures, aim for a rod from 7 to 9 feet. If you’re bait casting and want to cast a long distance, look for a fishing rod in the 9 to 14 foot range.
The material of your fishing rod is also a factor - most surf fishing anglers opt for a graphite rod. Graphite fishing rods are more sensitive and stronger for casting weighted lines into the surf. They also have a faster action than their fiberglass or composite mix counterparts.
2/ Track the Tides
The tides are a major factor when surf fishing. At dead high or low tide, the water is not moving, and therefore there is less movement among the fish, decreasing your chances of a catch. Track the tides in your location to make the most out of your time on the shore.
Most anglers cite the best time to fish at the two hours right before and after high tide. High tide is better than low tide, as it pulls the fish closer to the shore. Right as the tide is flowing out, the fish will be moving towards the shore with the tide, and the movement will improve your chances of a catch. The same is true right as the tide ebbs back towards the ocean.
High tide is still a good time to fish, but when the water is still the chance of a catch decreases. Fish during high tide, but get there while the tide is coming in.
3/Use Shock Leaders
Surf fishing requires weights to pull your bait down into the surf. Because of this, weighted lines are, of course, heavier. Casting these heavy lines, especially when going for distance, can result in crack-offs - your line breaking with the weight. This is not only costly, as you lose gear, but can also be dangerous if sharp hooks are lost in the sand or the surf.
Use a shock leader - a stronger line specifically for cushioning the pressure of casting weights - to prevent crack-offs. A good shock leader is nylon monofilament line that is low-stretch and abrasion resistant. As a rule of thumb, your shock leader strength should be about 10 times the weight (in ounces) of the weight your casting.
4/Aim For Smooth Waters
Keep an eye on the water to determine the best place to aim for when casting. Short, breaking waves usually mean that there is a sand bank there, and shallow water won’t supply many fish. Aim for smooth, flatter areas on the ocean. This usually suggests deep waters that will house more fish and improve your chances of making a catch.
5/Keep Your Bait Cold
If you’re using live bait, it’s important to keep the bait cold so that it doesn’t die. Warm, dead bait won’t attract fish. Pack a cooler to keep your bait fresh and cold to maximize your chances of success. An aerated cooler is ideal, as the bait need oxygenated water to survive. If you can swing it, buy a cooler with an aeration system to keep bait as fresh as possible.
6/Try Drone Fishing
Drone fishing is the latest trend in the world of surf fishing. When you fish with a drone, your baited hook and line are attached to the drone. Since most drones are equipped with cameras, you can fly out over the water and find a spot that looks good, and then drop your line via a payload release or a downrigger release clip.
Drone fishing allows you to reach further distances than you would when casting manually, and can be useful in finding the best areas to drop your line. Try out drone fishing for an exciting new way to surf fish this season.
7/Protect Yourself From the Sun
Like any day on the beach, you need to be aware of the sun when surf fishing. Long hours outside can lead to painful sunburn, and worse, skin cancer further down the line. Invest in a good fishing hat to protect your face, ears, and neck from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and always wear sunscreen. Even on overcast days, you can still get badly burnt. Wear a hat and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, and reapply as needed.
Similar to protecting your skin, you need to protect your overall health while fishing. Spending long hours fishing in the hot sun can dehydrate you, and even if it’s not that hot it’s vital to stay hydrated. Pack lots of water and remember to drink it throughout the day.
If you want to enjoy some beers while surf fishing, pack those too, but alternate with water so the alcohol doesn’t further dehydrate you. You should also be careful consuming alcohol and always know your limits, as you could potentially injure yourself or someone else with sharp fishing equipment.
Use these surf fishing tips to maximize your success and catch more fish this season, while also staying safe and smart out on the shore.