Hey there my fellow fishermen, I hope you have been catching the big ones. Today I am going to give you a quick run through my top 5 tips for beach fishing. This is not to say that you will not catch fish if you don’t follow each of these tips to the letter, but as we all know, anything that gets us closer to landing that elusive monster has to be a good thing right?
So grab a cool drink and let’s see what we can come up with…
1. Location location location
This is probably an obvious place to start but if you are heading to fish at a beach in an area that is unfamiliar to you (or even if it is), then you will need to do some research. We will discuss some of these influences in the next 4 tips however, when doing your research, find out:
- What fish are found there.
- When they like to feed – Day, night, high tide, low tide, sunny days etc.
- What bait they like.
- What tackle is best for them.
- Any other local knowledge such as weather, beach conditions, number of people about etc.
The idea here obviously is to give yourself the best possible chance of catching fish under local conditions. For example, where I live we like to chase Jewfish. They need a large hook, prefer local sea worms or squid and feed at high tide at night. Does this mean that they are not caught at other times with different tackle? Absolutely not – however we are about giving ourselves the best possible chance of catching them.
2. Use fresh local bait
Fish, like most wild animals will chow down on whatever is available to them in their local environment. So if you want them to nibble on your bait, then try to match as closely as possible to what they eat naturally. All too often we tend to just run into the old bait shop and purchase what we have always used without any considerations to local conditions. This goes back to your research obviously but if you are in an area where sea worms are prevalent, use them. If pippis or yabbies are more common, then I would be putting them on my hook first and foremost.
The only caveat here is that the weather and beach conditions may have more of a say than the local fare. For example, yabbies are fairly soft and fall off of a hook quite easily meaning that in rough conditions or strong currents, you will spend more time baiting than fishing. In this case, a stronger bait such as squid or fish flesh, whilst not perfect, might give you a better opportunity.
Check out: Surf Fishing in South Carolina
3. Use the right size
As part of your research undertaken in step 1 above, hopefully you managed to identify the right rod and tackle setup for the local population. In most cases, we are not going to have the exact right rod for each beach that we go too, and why would we want to? The trick here however is to make sure that you have as close to the right line and tackle size as possible. If your hook is too big, you will not get fish with smaller mouths, too small and they will spit it out.
The issue here is that you can look at 5 articles or guides for the right hook size for a certain fish type and all 5 will give you a different answer. I always try for somewhere in the middle of the suggestions with a smaller swivel. As we will discuss in the next tip, you are not usually going to have to cast too far so we can keep it real here. I recommend the following for beach fishing:
4. Look for a gutter or hole
Unless you are fishing around a rocky outcrop or an onshore reef, you will need to be looking for a gutter or a hole to fish in. Gutters are those long deeper sections of water in between the shore break and first sandbank or two sand banks with entry/exit points at both ends. Holes are deeper sections of water between two sandbanks that join with the beach. These are the perfect place to find a good fish for a number of reasons including:
- The fish swim through here looking for food stirred up along the edges of the sand banks.
- Fish feel safer in the deeper water – hence tend to feed more.
- Holes usually form a whirlpool type action in the middle which collects piles of sediment, seaweed and food for fish.
- They are usually close to the beach meaning you don’t have to cast very far to get to where the fish are.
- They provide good catchments if you wanted to release some burly into the action.
This is not to say that you can’t catch some fish in the shore break – whiting for example will often hang there – but utilizing a gutter or hole will absolutely give you the best chance of catching some dinner.
5. Check the current
Lastly. And I have included this one as it is something that I forget about a lot and that is to check the current. For those of you a little unfamiliar with beach fishing, most beaches have currents that sweep from one side to the other based on the tides, geographic location, environmental influences (groins, rocks, sandbars etc.) or the wind. Regardless of the reason for them, if the current is strong, you may find your bait washed up on the beach more often than you care to think about.
In the case of a strong current, consider the following:
- Using a bigger sinker – star sinkers are good in these scenarios.
- Casting into the current and letting the bait drift across the gutter or hole you are using.
- Casting as above and walking slowly down the beach with the current.
- Using a ‘cast and reel’ process where you cast and reel the line straight back in slowly so that it doesn’t drift too far – which is also a good technique for some fish – such as Flathead – even when there is no current.
If the current is too strong – do what I do and head for the bar…
What is the best time to fish off the beach?
This obviously depends on location however most pundits will recommend hitting the beach in the hours before and after dawn and dusk. This can vary depending on the tide however even if at half tide, a good gutter will work well as the sun rises.
What is the best rig for surf fishing?
For most beach fishing, a simple running sinker rig (or a Carolina Rig) will work very well. If however you want to cast a little further or are looking to avoid pesky Stingrays etc., then a paternoster rig is worth a shot too.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for successful fishing on the beach. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had. Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.