There’s so many things I love about fishing, The thing I love the most is how it brings us full circle with nature, a deep understanding of the natural ebbs and flows of daily life on this planet. It brings a comforting feeling of being a part of that cycle, and just like the fish I’m working hard to fill my belly at days end… But there’s something else I really love about fishing and that is… there’s so many different kinds of fishing. Some fisherfolk only target one species of fish their whole life or limit their self to a few ways of fishing. More power to them, some master a craft and some have an intimate understanding of a species that few will ever obtain. For me though, each type of fishing is a new adventure and each species a new journey. My surf fishing journey began last spring and here we are full circle this spring and Taylor has been surfin her own fishy journey alongside me.
Throwing a little shrimp attached to a hook into the vast ocean and expecting a fish to come gobble it up can seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of practice reading the surf and the right tackle it can be a rewarding experience. So let’s go over a little surf fishing 101. First you will need the right tackle.
A handful of various sinker weights from 2 to 8 ounces is sufficient with 4oz being the weight I use the most; The round ones come in handy when snags are present and the pyramid ones hold in mellow to high surf conditions. There are many other types of sinkers for surf fishing but the basic 4oz pyramid is cheap and covers most conditions. Next you will need some sinker slides, these keep your line from getting all gnarly, and most important a nice sharp hook, I like the Mustad 2/0 perfect circle, it’s the right size for the smaller fish like sea mullet and big enough for just about anything you’re going to catch. Also a pack of swivels, Because you are fishing in a giant washing machine, line twist can become an issue. The pic on the far right is a basic bottom rig which will catch most fishes and can be baited with anything from shrimp to a live mullet or cut bait . The rigs in the middle are great for the smaller fish like mullet or pompano, the main line is tied to the swivel and the weight snapped on the bottom and usually baited with shrimp, squid, blood worms or cut bait.
Now for rods you want something in the med heavy – heavy action for hucking lead out there. There are an overwhelming amount of surf rods available and a little research or stop at a local saltwater tackle shop can steer you in the right direction, but we have been using an 11′ Ugly Stick Big Water with an old Penn 704 spinfisher reel, A 9′ Uglystick Gx2 med action with a BPS pro qualifier reel, and a med action 9′ Ugly Stick garage sale special with old Daiwa reel, and it’s not the best but its been getting the job done . The great thing about surf fishing is that you don’t have to spend a fortune, a couple hundred bucks and you’re in the game. As for line we have been using 25lb Pline with a 25lb Pline floroclear leader and it has worked quite well. You want something in the 15-50lb range mono or braid works well. Again the local saltwater tackle shop guys can steer you in the right direction when it comes to reels and line and what species you’re targeting. For bluefish or other toothy fish, wire leaders are a smart choice.
A few more items essential for a day on the salty sand are rod holders, which a piece of 10 foot 1 1/2″ PVC pipe sawed in half at an angle gives you two nifty rod holders AKA sand spikes. . A good pair of long nose pliers, bait knife, sunscreen, rubber mallet to pound in sand spikes, head lamps, old pair of sneakers or boots, And of course don’t forget the cooler for keeping bait and all those fishes your going to be catchin fresh.
Looking at the big ocean waves and endless stretches of sand and knowing where to soak your shrimp can seem frustrating but basically you’re looking for a fishing hole. When waves crash into the sand they create trenches and you want your bait in that trench. To find the holes watch the waves. Where the waves break are the shallow areas or sand bars and in between those are the trench. So if a wave is breaking right on shore it’s likely there’s a hole behind it. Also the steepness of the beach slope can determine the size of a hole. Low tide is a good time to see how the waves carve the sand and give you a better mental picture of what’s happening under the sea. There’s more to it than that but that’s the basics of it. If it looks fishy try it.
And be warned: long hours of surf fishing can do funny things to a person…
Photography by Saxton and Taylor
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