Tackling the Surfby Capt. Terry Rand
The waves are crashing into the beach. The smell of salt is in the air. You can walk for miles along the sandy shores. What an environment to surround yourself in. And, you could be pulling some fish from those frothy waves. But, where do you start? What makes a good fishing beach? What kind of tackle do you need? Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg to get started? These are all valid questions so let’s get to answering them!
To start with, you need a rod and reel outfit that will allow you to cast up to 3-4 ounces of weight. That requires a rod with some backbone and a fast action tip.
To get yourself geared up for surf fishing you do not have to spend a ton of money. You may even have some of the required tackle lying around your basement, attic or garage. That old 8 foot rod your uncle gave you that you stuck up in the rafters of the cellar may finally have a use. That coffee can of large lead weights that has been sitting on your work bench for all of those years can finally be dusted off.
To start with, you need a rod and reel outfit that will allow you to cast up to 3-4 ounces of weight. That requires a rod with some backbone and a fast action tip. The rod should also be a minimum of about 8 feet long to give you the leverage to cast those large offerings a good distance into the surf. The reel should balance well on the rod and also allow you to spool up with at least 150 – 200 yards of 17 lb. test or heavier monofilament line.
Most bait rigs in surf fishing consist of a sliding weight system, a snap swivel and a hook and leader. You want the fish to be able to pick up the bait and not feel the resistance of the large sinker. You can accomplish this easily by using a slider or fish finder rig. It is simply a hollow sleeve with a large snap attached to it. It allows you to slide the fish finder on to your main line before attaching your swivel. You can then attach your sinker to the clip. When the fish picks up the bait the sinker stays fixed to the bottom while the line slides through the fish finder rig and the fish will feel no resistance. You can then tie on your swivel which will prevent the slider from sliding all the way down your leader to the hook. From the swivel you want to attach a leader of about 24” and then tie on your hook.
It is also a good idea to carry an assortment of artificial plugs and spoons in your tackle bag. There are times when artificials will produce better than bait offerings. You may see fish actively feeding on the surface. This is when you want to tie on a top water plug or maybe even a spoon. Avid surf anglers will often carry two rod on the beach for this very reason. One can be dedicated to fishing bait while another can always be rigged and ready with an artificial lure.
As you spend more time fishing the surf you will gain more knowledge and continue to build your lure and bait rig collection.
Talk to your local tackle shop representative. Ask them about productive surf fishing areas. They should be able to point you to a productive beach. If there are other anglers fishing these same areas, odds are that fish are being caught there pretty regularly and it is an area worth spending some time at. Your tackle shop should also be able to set you up with the best baits for the locations that you are fishing. Ask them about what the popular lures are for fishing these areas and set yourself up with a few of them. As you spend more time fishing the surf you will gain more knowledge and continue to build your lure and bait rig collection.
As you can see, it shouldn’t cost you hundreds of dollars just to get into the game of surf fishing. Getting yourself set up with the basics can be accomplished inexpensively and it will get you on the beach to start learning what this great sport is all about. Talk to your tackle shop reps and talk to other beach anglers. You will quickly put together a wealth of information about fishing your local beaches that you can use for the rest of your life. Now get out on the beaches and catch some fish!