Surf fishing is one of the best ways to catch some fish if you approach it correctly. You must learn how to read the water and the waves. This will show you how the sand under the water forms, which is what you are looking for. The farther you cast does not always mean you will be in the perfect spot. So, where to cast when surf fishing?
When the waves come in, they will form what is known as whitewater. The hook being cast out needs to be just on the other side of the white water. The white water happens when the water hits a sandbar.
This water will launch little organisms and smaller fish up and into the path of the bigger fish feeding on them. These fish bring in the even bigger predators that feed on them, so if the bait is cast into this spot, it is possible to catch small, medium, and extra-large fish species.
It may seem easy to read the waves, cast some bait, and catch as many fish as you want. That is only sometimes the case, though. Fish in a hole one day may not be there tomorrow because the ocean floor will shift every time the tide goes from high to low and low to high.
Let’s dig into where to cast when surf fishing by learning more about how the sandbars work.
The Way of The Wave
You are not alone if you have ever wondered how ocean waves are formed and why some crash and some don’t. Scientists have solved the question in technical terms, but more is needed to help the surf angler.
Surf fishing is more about strategy than technical terms, but you still need to know what makes the ocean act the way it does. Let’s break down the wave’s stages in ways you can easily understand.
- Some form of energy creates movement in the water (wind, gravitational pull, weather), causing the water to move in a circular motion.
- The energy creates friction in the water, causing the wave to form. The bigger the friction, the bigger the waves will be.
- The waves will dissipate over time when in the open ocean.
- The waves near the shore will crash onto the beach and disappear.
- As the waves approach the shore, they will form white caps on the top of the waves when the water underneath them runs into a sandbar. The sandbar creates a blockage of flow that causes the water to form a break due to the dissipation of the energy of the wave.
The fish will always follow the same patterns, allowing you to hit the areas they are running in each time you cast. That is how the waves in the ocean work.
You do not necessarily need to know the physics of the process, but you need to understand why the waves do what they do and what it means for the fish you are out to get.
Best Places to Cast When Surf Fishing
Casting your bait into the perfect location is what it is all about. It will not be something that you can do automatically when out fishing. It takes time, and practice, to learn how to read the ocean waves.
Once you figure it out, you can go to any beach and effectively read the location for the best spots to fish. You may get lucky when you cast out and hope for the best, but proper placement will give you more consistent catches.
Casting Into the Troughs
Setting your bait in the sandbar’s troughs can yield smaller fish species. This area can be found on the other side where the wave breaks. Looking at the water closely, you will see the waves crashing in different areas, even three or four times before reaching the shore. Every place where the water forms white water is a sandbar, which means a trough on the other side.
- Low Tide – The best time to explore the area you plan to fish in is right after low tide. This means the water recedes to its farthest point, leaving the shoreline farther into the ocean. This is the best time to read the ocean floor for fishing after the tide comes in.
- High Tide – You will want to time your fishing trip an hour or so before the high tide reaches its fullest. The best times to catch fish are generally within this two to four hours.
- Analyze The Waves – You will want to check the waves coming in and figure out when they are breaking. You learned that a break begins when ocean water runs into a sandbar underneath the surface, so you will know where the fish are sitting.
- Place Your Cast – You want your bait to sit just on the other side of the sandbar, so you will need to cast out just on the other side where the wave starts to form white water caps or breaks.
Catching anything while surf fishing depends mainly on how well you read the ocean in front of you. You will know exactly where to cast if you can read the waves. This trough will give you hours of fun when the fish hunting for food decide to take a bite from your hook.
Casting Into Channels
Channels are another part of the ocean that can yield some big fish. These channels are like a roadway for the fish because they can access numerous troughs when moving through the water in search of food. This area between two sandbars forms a path level with the ocean’s bare floor.
- Low Tide – Once again, you want to take advantage of the low tide. It makes it easier to read the current ocean floor and shows you where the troughs are without water covering them. You will want to fish in these areas after the tide reaches its highest level.
- High Tide – Your best fishing window will be an hour before the full tide and an hour after the full tide. This two-hour window will give you the best fishing experience.
- Analyze The Waves – You will want to find a set of waves that break next to each other but leave a small space between them. This area will be the channel, the section of the ocean where water can flow without being dissipated by sand formations.
- Place Your Cast – Anywhere in the channel will be good fishing, but you will have the best outcome if you place your bait perfectly in the area directly between the two sandbars and where the water breaks. There will be a multitude of food for the fish here, which means there will be all shapes and sizes of fish for you to catch.
Fishing in the channels is slightly different from fishing in the troughs because you will need better control over your cast. The bait will need to be set directly in the center of the channel and in the middle of the surrounding sand bars. This is the optimal place to serve up your bait to the nearest saltwater fish.
Professional Tips for Surf Fishing
Surf fishing is all about technique and strategy. There is a lot of ocean in front of you, which means it is pure luck if you can catch any fish. That is what people think, anyway. The fact is that surf fishing has very little to do with luck and much more to do with how and where you place your bait.
You now understand the basics of surf fishing and how to read the waves correctly. You also know where the bait should be placed to increase your odds of catching fish.
These tips alone will put you above many of the other people you see out fishing. You know, the people that fall asleep in their chairs because of the lack of action on the end of their poles.
You want to avoid ending up being one of those people. Even though you can get a good tan that way, your fishing success will be slim to none. It is time to go into some other strategies and techniques that you should use.
The surf fishing experts talked to were more than willing to explain how they were so successful. After all, there is a lot of fish in the sea.
1. High Tide
You can catch fish at any time during the cycle of the tides, but it has been shown many times that surf fishing is better when you have your bait in the water an hour or two before high tide and an hour or two afterward.
High tide will cause the most friction in the water, causing more waves to break over the sand bars. The stronger the waves break, the more food is kicked up from the ocean floor. This means more food for the smaller fish and the smaller fish for the bigger predators to hunt down.
2. Talk To Local Experts
Before going out to fish, find a local fish and tackle store close to the area you want to fish in. You can try some of the big retail chain stores and talk to someone in the sporting goods section, but you are much better off finding a small, locally owned and operated shop.
Not only can you fill up on supplies and help a local shop stay in business, but you can ask for pointers from a local angler that will have some inside information.
3. Casting Is Not A Competition
Many anglers that surf fish think they need to get the bait out as far as possible. They will wade out into the water as far as they can, load the line with weights, and throw it out with as much power as possible. There are better approaches to surf-fishing. You only need to cast as far out as you need to get to the troughs and channels.
It may be a simple flick of the wrist to get it there, or you may have to put some effort into it. If you throw it as far as possible but do not get it close to a sandbar, you might as well take a nap because you are leaving your entire fishing day up to luck.
4. Placement Is Key
Placing your baited hook inside a trough is an excellent place to fish. It will give you some decent-sized smaller species of fish. Your bait will be placed directly on the edge of both fishing areas, which is the best overall place to cast towards.
If you can get enough control of your casting to place the hook along the edge of the trough and channel, you will maximize your fishing and significantly increase the chance of catching a monster fish.
5. Bait Makes A Difference
You can use some frozen fish that you buy at most retail fishing outlet stores, but you will have much better fishing if you use live bait. You can catch some little fish next to the shore with a net and then place them in a bucket (add air to keep them alive longer).
If you catch a few smaller fish that are not game fish, cut them into small squares to use as bait. If the idea behind it is if the fish you use for bait is caught where you are fishing, the larger fish will already be accustomed to eating them.
6. Bait Presentation
The main point will be to make the bait look as realistic as possible because many fish are not as dumb as some think. If you are using live bait, attach it to the hook, so it is secure but not all bunched up and looking like something on a hook.
If you are using cut bait, put it through the hook once, and then take a pair of scissors and round out the pieces above the hook. The rest, which should be the majority, should trail out behind the hook like a live tail.
You want to ensure that your rigging allows the bait to be around 6 inches above the ocean floor, even if you have a couple of hooks attached to the line.
7. Docks And Piers
Fish will automatically be attracted to anything intruding into their natural environments. It gives them places to hide from the bigger predator fish in the water and the birds from the sky always that are always hunting for a meal.
If you can get close enough to a dock, pier, or even a swimming platform that is not being used, cast your hook as close to it as you can without hooking on any of the building materials. You may not catch anything huge here, but you never know when a large, hungry fish will chance coming close to shore for some food to munch on.
8. Rough Or Calm Water
There will be times when you go fishing when the water is so choppy that you cannot see where the sand bars are.
Or the water may be so calm that no ripples can be seen. In this instance, you can use the scouting information you compiled earlier during low tide and cast in those spots.
You may have a hard time finding them, but trial and error is your best bet during these times. If you are not getting bites with one cast, try again in a slightly different area.
These expert tips when surf fishing will help you along your journey of becoming an expert yourself.
They can tell you, and show you, all the information you need to become a successful surf-fishing angler, but the best way to learn is to get out there and do it. Follow the advice, but add your style and flair to the mix.
When trying to figure out where to cast when surf fishing, you must consider the water’s conditions, the weather around you, and the water itself. You must also consider your experience level and how accurately you can cast.
Learning to read the waves is the first step you must take before attempting to cast out. It is okay to waste bait in areas that will not get you into fish.
At first, you may have a rough time analyzing the situation when you first approach the water, which is why it is important to scout the area during low tide. This will give you a base knowledge of where you will need to cast.
Until you can read the waves and place the cast in the perfect position, you must rely on trial and error and a little luck. As you know, luck is only sometimes on your side, so learn the knowledge and experience needed to make your way into the bracket of excellence.
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