Any time of the day or night is a great time to fish the surf. Dawn and dusk is a great idea, and indeed logical. If I can match it up with dawn and dusk, all the better. I do this until I get some local knowledge or make some discoveries of my own. NOTE: If you’re chasing sharks, big sharks, the evening is the best by far in my experience.
A few knots of breeze from any direction is never a problem. However, once a breeze becomes an onshore wind, it makes saltwater fishing difficult. If the surf is kind and you have enough led, again, no problem. Once the wind heads over 10 knots, however, it gets very difficult, not to mention unpleasant. The only exception here is if the wind is blowing offshore, i.e. blowing from behind while you fish.
OK, there’s no science to this at all, just my experience. I have often found that on good surf fishing days, the water always looked inviting…I.e., good for a swim or a surf. I might be crazy, or I might have turned part fish, but I’m not the only one to make this observation.
A flat surf is not a great sign. There are many species of fish that prefer wave action to stir up food and provide protection or cover.
Look for places in the surf where the water is darker, this indicates it is deeper to some degree. Polaroid sunglasses will allow you to see the contours of the seabed very easily. It could be a small area or it could be a gutter or trough that runs for some distance along the beach.
Without a swivel, the line twist can be horrible, and if nothing else, destroys your casting length. NOTE: With the exception of the gang hooks and extra-heavy sinkers which I addressed earlier, much of the fishing tackle you already have will suffice for the beach. To make sure, research the species you are targeting or generally expect to encounter. Think of the baits you will use. This will determine your hook sizes. It’s tricky to provide sinker sizes. Firstly, there’s no real standard, weights vary between manufacturers. Conditions on the day will determine the weights you need. To be honest, I don’t even know the numbers anymore. I look at a sinker and think, that ought to do. Often I’ll be wrong, and need to change up or down. Conditions play a huge part and often you can’t tell until you put your rig in the water. Keep in mind, only use as much led as you need, and, although they weigh a lot, carry a reasonable assortment of sizes and shapes.
This really is a great choice when you need some serious weight to cast or hold ground. Often, lateral wave movement can be a huge problem dragging your bait along the beach and back to the water’s edge. In this case, a star or pyramid-shaped sinker can be effective holding the bottom. Snapper led is also great. There are such things as grappling sinkers. They work on the same principle as a grappling hook. I’m not a fan. If the current is moving this much, I find I don’t get fish anyway.
If you need to weight up a little more, then OK. But make sure you use a sinker that has more surface area such as a bean sinker. It holds the bottom better.
Doesn’t get easier than that. This is a great rig for every fish. Like really. If you’re requiring more wait to keep your bait where you want it, then it’s probably time to change surf fishing rigs. Too big a sinker on top of a hook causes all sorts of trouble, for one, fish don’t like it. Avoid it. Use gang hooks for fish like blue fish. A set of 4 x 4/0 is perfect, and it negates the need for a heavy trace. You also have a fighting chance should toothy critters such as mackerel or sharks take your bait.
If you are going to implement some or all of the tips mentioned in this article, you will soon be catching big pike, and one of those may very well be a real trophy fish. If and when that fish comes along and you can actually land it, you will want to properly celebrate it. Make sure to always carry a little bottle of champagne in your bag in order to be ready for that pike of a lifetime!