The Quick Start Guide To This Exciting Sport

Surf Fishing Basics

Start with the surf fishing basics whether you do it as a sport or a hobby. Before I get into the basics of this sport. I’d like to give you a mental image of what you will experience when fishing in the surf.

Picture This First:

It’s a perfect day at the beach. A cloud covers the sun, there’s a gentle ocean breeze blowing towards the shore and the waves create a commotion in the surf! What a perfect setting for a day of surf fishing! No matter how you look at it, surf fishing can be an awesome outdoor adventure.

Compared to boat or pier fishing, surf fishing is more, “out there and in it”. With the cool sand and water washing at your bare feet, surf fishing blows away the experience offered by any other type of sport fishing. With surf fishing, you can enjoy getting down to just the basics.

Among favorite trophy fish is the striper, red or black drum, blue fish, flounder, fluke, kingfish, cobia, etc.

But Where Do You Start?

Surf fishing is the sport of surf casting to catch fish from the beach or by wading out in the surf. At the most elementary level, a person wanting to indulge in this sport should appreciate the sensations offered by the experience while waiting for the excitement when a fish strikes.

Getting Your Surf Tackle

Before heading off to the beach, you should have the right type of surf fishing gear depending on the fish species your after. Most surf anglers have their own individual preferences but there are some essential items that are generally a must have.

Like a good spinning or casting rod which usually 8’-12’ long paired with a reel spooled with at least 150 yards of 20 to 30 pound test monofilament or braided line. You also need to match tackle and bait to the local criteria you’ll be dealing with.

A visit to the local bait & tackle shop will provide you with everything you need regarding hooks, leaders, bait, sinkers, rigs and more. Other necessary surf gear should include gloves, pliers, knife, bait bucket, sand spike, scale, tape measure, cooler, a flashlight if your night fishing and maybe a rod tip bell to signal, “fish on”.

Choosing Your Surf Bait

Once you have an idea what fish species you’re after you’ll need to know their bait preferences. It’s good to use fresh, firm bait or if choosing artificial bait try to make it more life-like! You can also purchase frozen or preserved bait.

There are different ways of using bait in the surf. Lots of surf anglers often catch their own bait using a cast net. Be sure to check the local regulations though, before usage.


One of popular forms is Chunking which uses steak chunks cut from larger baitfish. It is very effective for larger fish found in the surf. Chunks are often fished with a fish finder rig, enabling the bait to be taken by the fish without feeling the weight of the sinker.

Bait Strips

Bait-strips are also used from a variety of baits such as finger mullet, squid and mackerel.

Clams & Worms

Clams and worms are effective especially in colder water temperatures. Clams should be hooked through the tongue section and tied using bait thread while bloodworms should be hooked at the head and threaded onto the hook. This will keep the bloodworm from falling off the hook.

However, if you are using sandworms, they must be hooked through the head only as the rest of the body has a pottage consistency and will deteriorate rapidly.

If you use squid, make sure that it is a tapered strip and hooked only once so it dangles off the hook. Just remember to hook baits with the point of the hook facing up and out, not down and inward to avoid the hook from being buried to the bait itself.

Live Lining

Lastly there is Live Lining which is effective for all types of fish most especially for striped bass. It uses the outgoing tide to allow the bait to be pulled away from the beach. Live lining works best if you can find a break in the sand bar because fish tend to hang at the break waiting for prey to wash through with the out going tidal action.

Popular bait choices for live lining are eels, herring and bunker. Eels especially, because of their durability.

Start Fishing in The Surf

After all that you would be ready to cast out your line and settle in for a strike. Waiting for action can take a little patience sometimes, but hey, that’s what fishing is all about! If after 15 or 30 minutes of waiting and you still haven’t got a bite, then try to look for obvious fish holding spots, like a point extending out from the beach. Then fish on either side of it.

Learn to read the beach and water for the best fish holding zones. If the action is slow, try moving your bait slightly along the bottom so you can cover more territory.

If you have trouble with crabs mauling the bait use a surf rig with small floats to keep the bait just off the bottom.

Surf Zone Safety

Just remember to take precautions if you wade out into the surf zone. Waves can be powerful and undertows known as “rips”can get you in serious trouble if your not careful. Never turn your back on the waves! When you least expect it a wave can catch you off guard and dump you in the surf.

Consider Fishing in Surf

There are many reasons why should consider surf fishing.

  • You’ll catch a good variety of nice fish and you can take pride in your trophy catches. Not to mention bragging rights.
  • It’s an excellent, exciting way just to have a great time, sit back and enjoy the picturesque beauty of the beach, with your friends, family and loved ones.
  • It can be addictive. Once you hook a fish in the surf and feel the adrenaline rush while landing it, you’ll want to head out to the surf every chance you get.
  • It’s a perfect hobby or sport that makes for an unforgettable outdoor experience.
  • It’s easy to get started and very affordable to get into.

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