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Guidelines For the Best Time to Go Surf Fishing
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What is the Best Time of Year?
Since I am not considering any particular location, as a general rule of thumb I would have to say spring and fall. Now that doesn’t mean if you are fishing in the winter or summer that the surf fishing will be poor. It most likely just won’t be outstanding. That being said, it doesn’t mean the fishing will be outstanding in the spring and fall. What it does mean is that given the same set of circumstances, the fishing will probably be better in the spring and fall. Surf fishing depending on your location can be good year round. If you know what you’re doing it isn’t difficult to catch fish in the surf year round.
What is the Best Time of Day?
This question is easier to answer. In the early morning just before dawn until 9 or 10 AM and in the evening an hour or two before dusk. This follows the nocturnal feeding habits of the fish. During the summer when a lot of the beaches are occupied by sunbathers, dusk might be your best bet after they have left the beach. In some areas the rule is no fishing in swimming areas from the time lifeguards go on duty until the time they go off.
What is the Best Tide Time?
It’s no secret that the tides affect surf fishing. Moving water at the surf line is good for fishing. High tide is best because it’s easier to cast out and reach the deeper water. The window of opportunity is two hours before high tide and two hours after. Slack tide which is right between high tide and low tide is not productive for surf fishing. Low tide in most areas is usually only good for scouting the beach for ideal fishing spots.
What are the Best Moon Phases?
The moon not only plays a part in the tidal movements, it also affects the fishing. Let me explain. The moon produces the most extreme tide changes, referred to as spring tides, during the new moon and the full moon. The water moves faster during the change in tides from high to low tide and the total change in depth is the greatest. This is the best time to fish the surf. Also, common belief is that during a full moon the fish feed most of the night.
What are the Best Weather Conditions?
Weather conditions are a little more difficult to address because of all the different kinds of weather factors. An onshore breeze if it isn’t too strong is a plus. Cold fronts are negative factors. High wind and surf is also bad. High winds make it difficult to fish and the water clarity is very poor. Low pressure is better than high pressure during a spring tide. When the weather conditions have been poor for the last 24 hours the fishing won’t improve until the fish have had a chance to acclimate. Sometimes it may take a day or two depending on how severe the weather has been.
Now after considering all the best times for surf fishing, it’s easy to understand how these situations can work together when they occur at the same time. When planning to go surf fishing try to take advantage of the time when several of these conditions overlap each other.
Seven Quick Steps to Start Surf Fishing Right Away
If you’ve never surf fished before this article is written for you. My goal is to provide you with a very simple, easy to follow method so you will catch your first fish in the surf. That’s all I want you to be able to do. Just catch a fish, any fish. I don’t care if you have never caught a fish in your life. I want you to see how exciting and easy it is to do. After that I guarantee you’ll be hooked and I will have accomplished my goal. Once you catch your first fish you’ll have the confidence I want you to get. At that point you will have the incentive to learn everything you can about this sport and enjoy many successful hours at the surf line.
Surf fishing is a neglected sport. You don’t hear much about it. The ironic thing is that it’s probably the the easiest to do and the most exciting. How strange is that?
Okay let’s get started.
Get A Surf Rod And Reel Combo
I want you to go down to Walmart or one of the big sporting good chains. You have go to one of them within range of the coastline otherwise they won’t carry any surf gear. Your budget for a surf rod and reel combo is under . You can probably find something for around . (A combo is a rod & reel combination)
Pick out any spinning surf rod and reel combo that strikes your fancy. Surf rods are heavier and longer than regular salt water rods. Get something at least 10′ but not longer than 12′ If you can find the Daiwa combo or the Shakespeare combo that’s great. Otherwise most any surf combo will do. Remember this is a beginners intro. Once you get into it you’ll probably want to get more professional gear.
Get The Minimum Required Tackle
This is going to a very short, simple list.
300 yds. of mono filament line 20 lb. Test (if your combo didn’t come spooled with line)
2 or maybe 3 Pyramid sinkers 3oz. weight
1 pkg. of 2/0 circle hooks ( Look at the ready made leaders with hooks on them so you can see how their set up)
1 pkg. of #2 snap swivels
Get Your Gear Set Up
Okay now spool the line on your reel and don’t wind it on too loosely. Wind your line on through a piece of Styrofoam or anything that will put a little drag on it as fills up your reel. We’re not going to deal with a shock leader at this stage. You probably won’t be casting that hard anyway. If you don’t know what a shock leader is don’t worry about it. You can find when you need to know or just look it up. That’s too much to get into at this stage.
With the hook and sinker you can go one of two ways. Either one will get the job done at this point.
Make a short 12″ leader for the hook and tie it on your line about 18″ from the end of your line (Remember you saw hooks with leaders at the tackle store). Tie a snap swivel on the end of your line and attach the pyramid sinker to it..
Attach a #2 snap swivel to a pyramid sinker and slide in on your line so that it can slide freely. Attach another #2 snap swivel to the end of your line and attach a leader to it with a 2/0 hook on it.
That’s it your surf rig is ready to go.
Learn To Cast
Pick an appropriate location like a park or ball field where there won’t be any people around. You can tape off the hook for safety so you won’t have to take it off. Now I want you to practice casting until you can cast with a basic amount of control for direction and distance. This isn’t a bad idea even if you have some experience. Practice until you can cast 100′ to 200′ with a reasonable amount of predictability. If you can do better that’s great. If you try to cast much further you will need to learn and use a shock leader.
Why You Need To Know About Tides
I need to give you a quick lesson on tides and surf fishing. Find the tide tables for your location. I’ll give you three possibilities. Find them on the Internet, look for them in the local coastal newspaper or ask at the local bait and tackle shop.
Find out when you can go to the beach at low tide. Visit the beach and look for variations in the bottom. Note spots for pockets and changes in the formation of the bottom, basically where you can cast into deeper water or past a sandbar. If you can spot a rip through a sandbar so much the better. These will be your target spots to fish.
Pick The Right Time To Fish The Surf
Okay now you know where you are going to fish and the water you will be targeting. Go back to the the tide charts. Find a time when high tide occurs in the early daylight hours or around early dusk. It doesn’t matter which one you pick. You are going to fish a two hour window before and after high tide which will be four hours of fishing time. Now you know when to go fishing.
Get Some Bait
Now it’s time to start fishing. Head over to the local bait shop. Buy a dozen 3″ – 4″ shrimp. (Get a fishing license if you need one.) Head for the surf and get your gear out. Hook one of the shrimp through the tail about an inch from the end. Cast into the designated spots, get in a comfortable chair and hold on. If something doesn’t happen in 20 to 30 minutes cast into one of the other areas that you scouted at low tide.
From the information I’ve given you, at this level of skill you have the best opportunity of landing something very exciting. There’s a good chance you will use all of your bait catching fish. Any size, any kind just catch something so you can see what it’s like. Plan on releasing anything you catch for now. You can get into keeping some at another time.
It’s not foolproof but it will be highly effective. There’s a strong likely hood you will catch something your first time out. Don’t worry about the possibility that the fish aren’t out there. They are there, just take my word for it.
How The Weather And Moon Really Impact Fishing
Let’s start with the barometer. The barometer is a very effective tool for measuring the feeding behavior of fish. The barometer is an instrument used to measure ambient atmospheric pressure. Don’t worry, I’m going to simplify it for you and cut through all of the scientific jargon so we can get to what really matters, catching fish. The measure of barometric atmospheric pressure can then be used to help predict the weather and more importantly for our purposes, the feeding behavior of fish. Haven’t we all wondered why fish were so easy to catch yesterday, but today you can’t