There is an old saying “To defeat your enemy you must know your enemy”. The same can be said about fishing “to catch your quarry you must know your quarry”. Here is collection of tips, tricks and techniques for finding and catching your quarry and hopefully your quota when fishing from the beach or surf.
Most people don’t get to fish everyday and with today’s ultra busy lifestyles we like to capitalize on the “fun” times. We don’t want to waste time trying to remember what we caught last year at this time and what we used to catch it, so I’ve put together a collection of information to help get you to the water and to the fish faster.
Over 20 year’s of surf fishing, reading about surf fishing and talking about surf fishing is condensed here into a collection of “Cheat Sheets” to help take out some of the guess work. Part of the excitement of fishing is the unknown and no one can predict exactly what you’ll catch, when you’ll catch it or how you’ll catch it, but this collection will certainly increase your odds of catching your quarry.
What equipment do I need? Some beaches allow motorized vehicles to drive on the beach. If the beach your going to allows it a four-wheel drive vehicle is really handy. They can be equipped with rod racks that can carry and hold your fishing rods already set up and ready to cast. You can carry beach chairs, coolers, food and tackle right to your fishing spot with ease. A four-wheel drive is recommended when driving on sand and the air pressures in the tires should be lowered, usually down to between 24-28psi. This will increase the size of the tires “footprint” which will help it ride on top of the sand and not dig into it and get you stuck. As far as tires go fatter tires with less aggressive treads usually work best. I’ve seen people in station wagons on pretty much bald tires driving around on the sand like a tank on dry ground. For night fishing the vehicle can be equipped with lights although bright white lights are not recommended shining directly into the surf which can spook fish.
On beaches that don’t allow recreational vehicles to drive on the beach, a cart works really well. A cart can be purchased or made. There will be a blog soon about making your cart soon. Making a fishing cart is pretty simple. You can even use a regular kids wagon and add pneumatic tires (tires with air) not the hard plastic ones, they don’t travel over and thru sand well. A bucket or cooler, cutting board, a couple of sand spikes and your tackle box and you’re equipped to tackle anything the sea is willing to give up that day.
Rods are pretty much up to personal preference and budget, a general rule of thumb is use the longest rod you are comfortably casting. The length is needed to cast the lure as far out as is possible. Usually the larger the person casting the longer the rod can be.
Sand spikes are recommended to hold your rod while waiting for a bite. A sand spike is a tube usually 18-54″ long and 2″ in diameter made from PVC or aluminum, either cut on angle at one end or with a spike for driving into the sand.
A good knife and cutting board and your ready to go catch dinner.
There are normally two sandbars and two troughs that run parallel to the beach. Sandbars can be located by the breakers (waves that crest and rollover away from the shoreline). Larger breakers will occur over the outer sandbar and smaller breakers will occur over the closer sandbar. The troughs are revealed by the waters between the sandbars there will be little to no breakers.
SURF FISHERMAN’S CHEAT SHEET
* The best time to surf fish is a rising tide especially around high tide, and especially if high tide occurs at either dawn or dusk.
* Scout potential areas to fish at low tide. Take note of any sandbars, sloughs, points, washouts any irregularity in land these are great spots to locate feeding fish when the tide comes in.
* Looking for birds feeding in the surf or on the surface is a great trick to locate schools of feeder fish or feeding fish. If you see birds circling up high it might be a school of bait fish swimming deep if they are making low passes it means the fish are close to the surface. The size of the birds can be a hint to the size of the fish beneath them too.
* The formula for figuring out the weight of a fish, is: (girth” x girth”) x length”/800 – or girth in inches squared times length in inches divided by 800. The number in front of the decimal will be pounds and if you take the number after the decimal and divide by 16 you’ll get the ounces.
* Don’t set you hook unless the line is tight, it will increase your odds for a solid hook set.
* Find a high spot, a dune, a hotel balcony, a hill, a tree, etc. at low tide and scout your spot for structure, sand bars rocks stumps any kind of structure, slough or current. During low tide is a great time to locate potentially good areas that may hold fish.
* …. Add intelligence to your luck. Ask questions at local tackle shops
* Watch the barometer: falling barometric pressure is a danger sign for mariners. Rising pressure is a plus for fisherman