Walking a beach in the morning is one of the most rewarding activities on the planet.  The tranquility of the morning with the sounds of waves & birds make saltwater fishing from shore a popular activity for beach goers.  Surf fishing is relatively simple but actually catching fish requires some skill and analysis of your local spot.  The first step is to get a fishing license from your state.  Read below as we offer up our Seven Surf Fishing Tips For Beginners.

1.  Start By Scouting a Good Spot

It is important to really know the beaches and the sealife in your area. Fishing on the beaches of Florida is going to be extremely different and require different gear than surf fishing in California.

Before you just start firing off casts at your local beach.  Spend a couple weeks walking the beach.  See where other fishermen are and at what times they fish.  Talk to them and try to glean any tips.  Most fisherman (like mechanics) like to brag about their knowledge so they will be forthcoming with information.

Fishing successfully off the beach is like solving a puzzle. Take a walk at low tide to identify sand bars and rock formations.  Shellfish beds attract bait fish and then the bigger fish that prey on them. Take note of any obstacles and snags that may steal lures or require special rigging to prevent snags.

2. When Is Best Time for Surf Fishing?

The golden hours are pure magic for anglers in any waters. The first and last couple of hours of daylight are simply unbeatable on most days. As the day gets warmer, so does the water temperature and fish tend to get sluggish. Because they are cold-blooded creatures, they get less active in search of food during the day.

High tides and outgoing tides during these time periods are often great surf fishing opportunities.  The water is deeper and fish often feel less exposed to predators so they are willing to look for food closer to the beach than during full daylight conditions.  Overcast days are often great for surf fishing because the shadows from your line on the water are minimized which improves the appearance of your bait.

3.  Keep Your Gear Simple

The key to surf fishing for beginners is to keep your gear simple then add gear as your needs, experience and location may change. Before spending lots of money on Amazon deliveries for saltwater fishing gear, go to your local tackle shop.  Talk to them about your needs.  Let them know you are beginning and you want to keep your tackle light.  Ask what the local fishermen use when saltwater fishing from shore.

Some of your basic surf fishing gear might include a 12 foot saltwater fishing rod, a saltwater spinning reel with 20-pound test line, leaders, sinkers, hooks, surf rod holder, bait bucket and air pump, knife, needle nose pliers, polarized sunglasses and a hat.

4. Surf Fishing With Live Bait

Live bait is typically the first choice for most surf fishermen. You can purchase live bait at your local tackle shop or some anglers prefer to catch it themselves.  Catching fresh bait is ideal because fishing a fresh, active live bait is extremely effective and attractive to fish.

Rig your baits through the nose, top fin, or other areas that will not kill the bait. A dead bait can still catch fish but the movement of a live bait makes a huge difference in getting bites. With a live bait, use a rig such as a Carolina Rig, that separates bait from the rigging weight in a manner that allows the bait to float upwards. Fishing just off the bottom is a common approach for surf fishing.

Constantly casting places immense pressure on live baits, causing the bait to last only a short while. It’s best to use a heavy weight, cast only when you have to and let the fish come to you.

surf fishing tips for beginners

5. Surf Fishing With Soft Bait

Soft baits are fake baits made out of rubber or plastic. Some come embedded with scent.  When you don’t have a bucket of live bait, turn to soft baits. Soft baits are versatile; you can fish them just off the bottom like live bait and cast and retrieve is much easier.

Soft baits are also a great choice because they are made to imitate just about anything. Do your research and know what the local fish are biting. Knowing the local details like the proper species, color, or timing for a bait fish can make all the difference. Choose the correct presentation and get your line in the water because soft baits can match or even outperform live baits.

6. How To Surf Cast From Shore

The most important element when beginning surf fishing is perfecting surf casting. Your goal is to land your bait as far as possible past the wave breaks where the fish are feeding. Walk into the surf as far as comfortable and use a quick overhand cast.  The key is to extend your arms, very similar to a SUP paddle techniques.  Extending your arms maximizes the torque and will get your line out further.  Come over the top and when the rod is above your head release the line.

7. Be Persistent and Patient When Surf Fishing

The most effective surf anglers are the ones who put in the time. Show up early, fish the prime tides, and always keep their line in the water. You can’t catch fish when your line is not in the water.  There are also going to be days when your bait is constantly stolen or falls off, you get a snag and break your line or its just not your day.  Perhaps that is the best part about surf fishing, you are still just hanging out on the beach.  Like my father always says – a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work!


Good Luck and Thanks For Reading!



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