Surf fishing is one of the easiest fishing methods to learn. You won’t have to worry about finding a pier or going out onto a boat. You can simply find any water inlet to stand in and cast your line. Knowing about the tide, the weather, and everything else will simply help you to be more successful with your fishing endeavors.
What is the best time, tide, weather, and water temperature for surf fishing? Surf fishing is best when it’s done at high tide during the low-light hours of the day, and when the water temperature is between the range of 60 to 75-degrees Fahrenheit.
You need to make sure that all aspects are taken into consideration to get good results.
If you’re going to haul all of your fishing gear out to the beach, a tidal pool, or anywhere else, you need to make sure you’re set for success. Once you know how to pick the right conditions, you’ll have more fun – and be more likely to go home with some fish.
What Is the Best Time of Day for Surf Fishing?
It’s important to plan your surf fishing based on the time of day. You’re not taking a boat out to the deeper waters, so you have to choose a time where the fish are going to be closer to you.
The time of day corresponds with the incoming and outgoing tide. You’ll want to plan on heading out two hours before or after dusk or from dawn until 10 am.
The time of dawn and dusk varies throughout the year, so you can use a website to tell you what the times are based on where you live. This way, you’ll know what the times are – and you can choose whether you want to go out in the evening or early morning.
Dawn happens approximately half an hour before the sun rises, while dusk occurs approximately half an hour after the sunsets. As such, you can choose the time of day that is the most convenient for you.
When you go out around dawn, it’s going to be the start of the incoming tide. If you choose to go out at dusk, the tide will be subsiding. However, it’s also going to be darker, which is where more of the larger, predatory fish are going to be.
Essentially, you have about four hours out of every day that you can successfully surf fish – two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.
If you want to fish in the middle of the day, fish surfing isn’t the right option as there isn’t enough surf, and, therefore, not enough fish to make it worth your while.
It’s not just the time of the day, however. You can be out for incoming or outgoing tide and still have absolutely no luck. That’s when it’s critical that you pay attention to some of the other factors, such as the tide, the weather conditions, and even the water temperature.
What is near you?
When you’re talking about the time of day for surf fishing, you have to look at the various water bodies near you and the coastal conditions. Some of the top spots for surf fishing include:
- Jetties or rock formations
- Points (sand or land formations)
- Baitfish patches
As you consider where you want to fish, consider going to observe first. Don’t bring your fishing gear. Simply go out there to check it out. Look to see what kind of manmade and nature-made structures are nearby. Look to see where the birds hang out since they’ll be eating the baitfish that your predatory fish are after.
Knowing where you plan to fish will make it easier for you to choose the best time. Certain beaches or public areas may not be accessible after dusk.
Additionally, if you cannot safely reach the dark area, you may have to choose a different time.
Obviously, you don’t want to go up there with a lot of lighting, as it will scare the fish away. Wherever you choose to fish, you need to do so at a time where it is both safe and legal for you to do so.
What is the Best Tide for Surf Fishing?
Surf fishing involves standing in the water at the beach or the coastline. You may be on the jagged rocks, or you may decide that you want to wade into the water.
However, you typically won’t have more than just your feet covered with water, if that much. This means that you have to wait for the water (and the fish) to come to you.
The tide is important because it will identify the position of the water. As the waves ebb and flow, the fish go with it. When the tide is out for the day, you’re not going to have much luck because the fish are too far out.
By waiting for dawn or dusk, you ensure that the tide is working in your favor. It won’t matter what size pole you have or how far out you cast. If the tide isn’t there, you’re not going to catch anything.
Now, it has been observed that high spring tide is going to be the best for surf fishing. This means that you are going to get a high level of water, and the water will be a little warmer.
High tide will take longer for the water to rise and fall. This is important as it will allow for more water movement. The fish will be able to spend more time perusing the water to find food.
And if you’re lucky, they’ll find the bait that you have waiting for them. The spring months also have a stronger tide, so you’ll get a longer window for fishing.
You’ll want to do some research in your area to see when you’re going to get the highest tides, as that is when you’ll have more fish in the water. The longer tides occur in the spring, though you’ll find that the highest tides also have to do with the moon.
When there is a new or full moon, you’ll have a higher tide to fish into. Once you take the time to explore how the tide is affected by the moon’s gravitational pull, you’ll be able to choose when the highest tides are going to be in the year.
First Tide or Second Tide?
There are two tides each day – dawn and dusk. So, which one is better? As long as you are fishing during the high tide within these windows, either can be successful. However, it often depends on what kind of fish you want to catch.
Offshore predatory fish are going to come out in low light conditions. Therefore, the later tide is often going to be the best option for you. The darkness hides your line and hook. It also hides the predatory fish from their prey.
Combine that with a slightly longer casting line, and it can help you to grab the bigger fish that you might not be able to get in the early morning hours.
Additionally, check out the Department of Fish and Wildlife so you know what fish are in the various waters you’re fishing. It will help you to determine if there are even any predatory fish worth catching.
What is the Best Weather for Surf Fishing?
The weather for surf fishing is very important as it will impact the presence of fish. It’s not quite the same as when you go deep-sea fishing because the fish will simply dive deeper.
When you’re expecting fish to be close to the shore for surf fishing, certain weather is going to drive them farther away – which means they won’t be accessible to you.
While rainy weather may be miserable for you, it can be great for surf fishing. One of the reasons for this is that it adds more water for the fish to play in. The current will allow the fish to hold in one position so that they can feed near the shore.
When there’s a rainstorm with a lot of clouds overhead, it will also make it safer for the fish. They’ll feel more comfortable to approach the surf, allowing you to catch more fish.
By checking your local weather forecast, you can make it easier to determine the best days to hit the surf. You’ll want to look for a few specific things:
- Moderate winds
- Cloudy skies
When it comes to wind, pay close attention to what the forecast says about the speed of the wind. If it’s anything more than 19 miles per hour, you may want to skip your surf fishing trip altogether. Not only will it make it hard for the fish to reach the surf, but it can also be problematic for your casting.
Cloudy skies will mean that it’s overcast. Anytime that you’re not fishing in direct sunlight, you stand the chance of getting the predatorial fish. Combine the cloudy skies with the darker dusk skies, and you’ve got yourself a winning environment for surf fishing.
As for the rain, you want it to be raining without it being a downpour. If the rain is hitting the water too heavily, it will scare the fish away. While it depends on the type of fish you’re after, many are going to stay clear of threats.
The heavier rain will bring swells and strong currents – and the smaller fish simply cannot swim in these types of conditions.
The rain provides a lot of movement in the water. It helps to stir up some of the sand and sediment. The surf zone becomes hazy. While you might not be able to see a lot of what’s going on, the fish can.
They’ll think that it’s safe enough to look for food – and that’s when you can have a lot of luck at the end of your fishing pole.
Fish are often able to sense the weather changes even before you see it in the skies. They may start to approach the shoreline, knowing that the extra rain will bring them more food to feed on.
This means that the hours leading up to a major storm can be advantageous – as long as you get out of there before the heavy rainfall appears.
After a major storm, the water may be highly oxidated, and there may be new flood areas, particularly if there are rocks or cliffs to form small pools of water.
Once the storm settles, you may want to hit these areas knowing that many fish will be taking advantage of the food opportunities that will be present.
What is the Best Water Temperature for Surf Fishing?
Just as you’re more comfortable in certain temperatures, so are the fish. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the water temperatures that some fish prefer.
The best water temperature range is between 60 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some of the fish you might catch surf fishing, depending on where you live, include:
- Sea trout
- Striped bass
Just as you have to figure out the right bait and lures for the different types of fish you want to catch, you also need to know about their water temperature tolerance.
If there’s a sudden drop in the temperature, you may find that they all flee even if it’s within their tolerance. Why? They’re preparing for the colder temperatures and want to get out while they still have the chance.
The water temperatures should generally be in the 60s. Like a striped bass, some fish will be fine with some of the cooler temperatures, like 55. Meanwhile, like the snook, others will be happier with some of the warmer temperatures into the high 70s and low 80s.
Research the fish you’re going to be fishing for so you can be sure that you’re fishing for them at a temperature that they’ll be around.
Invest in a Thermometer
There’s a big difference between the temperature outside and the temperature in the water. Grab yourself a thermometer so that you can test the water in the areas you want to fish. If the weather is too cold, give it a few weeks until it has a chance to warm up.
A good thermometer should have enough line on it for you to throw it into the surf. Be sure that it is capable of withstanding the saltwater. Many sporting good stores sell fishing thermometers – and you can choose whether you want an analog or digital reading.
Some will even have a pocket clip to make it easier for you to check the water in a few different areas as you walk along the shore.
Remember that the water in some areas can change quickly. Particularly when you’re talking about surf fishing, the water isn’t very deep. When you find a baitfish patch, the water may be a lot warmer than in an inlet where the water is constantly flowing in and out.
The Best Seasons
The seasons make a difference as it will impact the available temperatures. You may even have to travel a bit to get to the surf fishing spots where the fish will be.
For example, if you live in New England, the spring months aren’t going to be as warm as they will be if you travel a few hundred miles south. This is why it’s critical to go by the actual temperatures of the water.
Generally speaking, the spring months are the best as the weather will be warm without being too hot or cold. The summer months may start to get too hot while the fall and winter months may be colder than the fish will tolerate.
When the fish are in their happy place, their metabolisms will be stronger. This means that they’ll be more likely to eat along the surf – and that will allow you to catch them.
As soon as the weather gets colder than tolerable, their metabolism will drop. They won’t feed as often, which means you may not get the bites that you’re looking for. That being said, you may still want to fish during this time if nothing more than to perfect your casting skills in the surf.
It all comes down to the temperatures in your area. Fish are unable to regulate their body temperatures like other fish. When it gets warmer out, they head to the deeper waters because it’s colder there. So, you may have to get used to traveling a bit to keep up with where the fish are going to be.
A Final Look
There are definitely better conditions for surf fishing than others. By doing some research on the phase of the moon and the weather conditions, you can decide what days are going to be better than others. In most instances, if you stick to the hours around dawn and dusk, you’ll have more success. When the sky is dark, and the water is warm, you’ll be more likely to catch some of the bigger fish in your area.