4 Surf Fishing Tips and Techniques

A cooler on the shore of an ocean

Surf fishing is one of the most fun and accessible saltwater fishing methods out there. Beach fishing or casting your line at a pier is a super fun way to enjoy your Florida (or anywhere else) beach vacation. You might be shocked at the variety of big fish you have available so close to the shore.

The ocean deepens pretty rapidly off the shore. When surf fishing, you can catch some game fish, like rockfish, mullet, and mackerel. Surf fishing is also an easy and affordable way to get into saltwater fishing, as you won’t need a boat to go out there for the afternoon.

Surf fishing does have some of its own quirks for finding success. Since you are so close to the shore, your goals, techniques, and aims will shift slightly from other forms of fishing. Without the proper knowledge, you could spend all day without any bites.

Here are four surf fishing tips and techniques that you should try out for the most successful surf fishing outings possible.

1. Perfect Your Casting Technique

The first technique you'll want to nail is getting your casting just right. Surf casting means tossing your line and bait far enough into the ocean to catch fish. If you aren’t able to cast your line properly, you won't be able to get your hook into the areas of the ocean you are aiming for.

Surf fishing casting is pretty simple and shouldn’t be too hard to get the hang of. A classic overhand cast is usually a good starting point for surf fishing. When practicing, put a strong emphasis on increasing distance and accuracy.

Start by taking your pole into your hands and bending your arms up to about a 90-degree angle. Then, quickly flick your pole forward and extend your arms straight to send out your line. You will need to practice to find the perfect speed, position, and accuracy for your cast, which will improve with time.

2. Understand Weather, Tides, and Surf Fishing

Understand how the weather, surf conditions, and tides will impact the fishing conditions. You can’t control whether there are fish out or not, but you can control when you go fishing. Take advantage of when fish are naturally active. Fishing at optimal times increases your chances of hooking a fish and can make all the difference for your fishing trips.

Overcast days are some of the best weather for surf fishing because your shadow and the shadow of your line will be less visible to the fish. Remember to prioritize your safety and be prepared to return to shelter if thunderstorms or dangerous conditions develop.

Take a look at the local tide charts. Low tide lets you scout the fishing area, looking for sandbanks, hollows, digs, and other structures in the water that may naturally attract fish to a certain area. During high tide, you are most likely to see heavy fish activity. Yet, keep in mind that some species of fish prefer low tide. Do a little research before you go out to maximize your chances of success.

3. How To Read the Beach for Fish

Another essential technique for any surf angler to master is reading the beach to identify spots where fish are more and less likely to congregate. Not every part of the water will be as heavily populated with fish as others. Knowing how to identify high traffic and low traffic spots of the surf will be key for targeting the best areas.

Pay particular attention to sand bars, as they have a major impact on how fish behave. You can start to identify sand bars by looking for where the waves begin to break before the shore. Depending on the type of fish and your location, fish may congregate in front of or behind the sand bar.

Generally, areas of the beach with coarser sand and larger shells usually indicate an area close to deep holes, where larger fish are likely to be present. Fishing from these spots increases your chances of finding the kind of fish that you want to catch.

Here’s a list of some saltwater fish you to look for (but will most likely vary):

  • Flounder
  • Sea Trout
  • Bluefish
  • Striped Bass
  • Pompano
  • Corbina
  • Croaker
  • Halibut
  • Sand crabs

4. Bring the Proper Gear

The final tip for a successful fishing trip is to bring the proper surf fishing gear.

Here’s a list of essential gear to bring:

  • A fishing rod — if you plan to do this often, a specialized surf fishing rod is a strong investment
  • Fishing license — saltwater fishing requires a different license from freshwater fishing
  • Fishing tackle — you’ll likely need different lures such as a jig or sinker
  • Natural baitfish — fish that are natural to that ocean environment
  • A Hard Cooler — vital for storing your live bait or your food and drinks for the day. If you are using your cooler for drinks and your catch, make sure to separate it with a Divider & Cutting Board.
  • A long and strong fishing line
  • Hooks — circle hooks are popular among surf fishermen
  • Pliers
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses — anytime that you are spending prolonged periods of time outdoors, you'll want to protect your body from UV damage.

Surf Fishing Takeaways

Surf fishing is a fun and easy way to start getting involved in saltwater fishing in an exciting way. But to make your surf fishing excursions enjoyable, you will need to have the right technique and tips.

Make sure you’re casting properly and getting some solid distance to land your hook where the fish hang out. You should also try your best to go surf fishing during high tide and during overcast conditions for the best chances.

Make sure to scout out your area as well for the best fishing spots, and don’t forget your essentials. If you need a new fishing cooler, Patriot Coolers has what you need. Our high-quality Hard Coolers or Softpack Coolers can keep your food, drinks, and bait fresh so that nothing gets in the way of your adventure.


Surf fishing | New World Encyclopedia

Reading The Beach To Surf Fish | Delaware Surf Fishing

​​Surf Casting Basics: Tips and Techniques For Beginners | Take Me Fishing.org



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