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Surf Fishing the Beach and Targeting Structure

Surf Fishing the Beach and Targeting Structure

Surf fishing is a lot of fun. At first glance you wouldn't think that beastly fish live and feed so close to shore. Structure for fish in the surf isn't quite the same as fish living along a rocky ocean outcrop or a fallen tree in a lake. Structure in the surf consists of irregularities in the ocean floor near the beach.

Gutters, holes, and rips are some of the places to target. Luckily, the waves on top of the water can tell us what lies beneath. When a long wave comes in and starts to break look for parts that start first or last. These are differences in depth. Often, waves will break over the ocean side of a gutter and come crashing into the gutter. That water has to go somewhere, so look for a smooth surface that might predict the rip going back out to the ocean.

Points can be seen standing on the beach. Look for beach that juts out into the ocean. It should be easy to notice of there is one there. Holes can show up as smooth whitewater when water around it is the same color as the ocean. 

Fishing is best in the gutter, holes, and rips. Fish like to hide away from the force of crashing waves. Baitfish and other food tends to gather in the gutters between the breakers and the beach. Holes also have less current and tend to gather baitfish and other food for fish. Calm water with lots bubbles or sand can also hold fish hiding from either predators or prey.

Casting doesn't have to involve a hundred meter launch. In fact, casting past the gutter can prove useless. Cast some kind of bait just inside the breakwater. Target rips and holes, too. Don't overlook good structure (holes, rips, etc).

Paternoster rigs with two hooks and a good weight on the bottom is one of the best rigs for surf fishing. Size 1 to 2/0 long shank hooks can hold bait well and hook up with most surf fish well too. Bait shields can help you cast further and keep more delicate baits from being battered off the hook. 

Lures from 10 to 50 grams can also be a lot of fun in the surf. Cast as far as you can even if out past the gutters. Reel lures back and vary retrieval speed until you find the speed the fish like. Usually, a quick steady pace will yield results. 

Rods from 9 to 15 feet are ideal for surf fishing. Long rods allow casting paternoster rigs more easily. Long rods also store more energy on the cast so baits can get out where they need to be. Lures can be chucked into the surf with lighter action rods. Again, longer rods store more energy for casting further.

Braided line is a good choice for surf fishing. Often monofilament has too much stretch to detect bites. Modern braids have less stretch and are a small diameter. This lets fishing enthusiasts cast further and have stronger line for the size.

When in doubt fish an area for a few minutes and move on to another. Look for transition areas in the surf as well as places that look different.

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