Surf fishing can be extremely hard to master. You have to calculate many factors such as the wind, current, crashing waves, floating kelp, rocks and so on before you cast.
For the beginner, I suggest you start on a calm day on a sandy beach. Practice casting first until you build up your confidence. Remember that you don't have to cast very far, because the fish practically come right up on to the beach to feed on sand crabs and dead fish. Most of the time, the fish are feeding at the break line.
Go to the beach early in the morning before surfers and beach goers show up. The best days to go surfishing is when the high tide peaks in the early morning(6-7 am). The break line will not be so far from the shore when high tide peaks.
You might lose your tackle often, so I suggest that you bring plenty of gear.
You should check with your local Fish and Game Department to find out any regulations in your area. In most places, you are required to have the fishing license.
Gear and Tackle
On the contrary to what most people believe, it is not necessary to use the typical surf rod. With a 6-7 foot medium action rod and 10-15 pound test line, fishing can be more exciting and challenging. It is also practical to move from one spot to another with a shorter rod.
It really depends on your casting skill. If you can't cast far enough, use a 10-12 footer.
For the reel, it's entirely your preference. Usually most anglers use spinning reels, because you can cast easily without backlash. I personally prefer convetional reels. Backlash might occur, but they cast farther.
A sand spike rodholder is necessary if you want to stay in one spot. Bring your chair and sit until some actions happen.
10-20 pound test line is ample enough to catch most fish. Use baitholder hooks since you use dead bait most of the time. Even with live sand crabs use baitholder hooks.
Baits and Rigs
The most popular bait in surf fishing is sand crabs. During the summer, you can ig them out from the wet sand and keep them in a small container while fishing. There are two kinds; hard shell and soft shell. Use soft shell to get more action. Corbina love soft shelled sand crabs.
You can also use frozen anchovy, salted anchovy, clams(sometime you find them when you dig out wet sand), shrimp and mussel. Another good choice is strips of mackerel or squid. Softer bait might come off the hook when you cast.
For the rig, I prefer a sliding sinker rig, because the sinker doesn't put any pressure on the line when the fish pulls the bait.Sometimes if the fish feels the sinker he'll drop the bait.
What You Can Catch From the Surf
Most likely you will catch perch, corbina, sting rays, bass, rock fish.
Night time anglers sometime catch bay sharks, such as leopards, soupfins, seven gills. If you intend to catch sharks, you have to use a medium to heavy action rod and a medium-sized conventional reel with 30-40 pound test line. A Penn #500 Jigmaster is a good choice.
Even though bay sharks have small teeth, they are razor sharp. Handle them with care. If you want to target catching sharks and rays from the surf, refer to my advanced technique for the surf . Back to main