Surf Fishermen do not have to be equipment dependent to catch fish. Yes, it is nice to have a top of the line rod and reel. Who doesn’t want a brand, spanking new Penn Slammer matched to a premium St. Croix surf rod. While your fancy equipment will impress your friends and maybe add some yards to your cast, it matters little if you are fishing where fish are not feeding. To add insult to injury, what if you have all that nice equipment and your buddy with his Shakespeare Surf & Pier Combo catches more fish than you because he seems to have knack for finding fish?
It can be a bit daunting for a new surf fisherman to pick the right spot to cast their bait or lure. To the novice, the breaking waves and churning surf all looks mostly the same. In reality, the movement of the water and patterns in the breaking waves can tell you a lot about the structure under the water. The nature of that structure may very well determine the whereabouts of fish along that stretch of beach. The underwater structures beneath the waves collect and channel feeding fish along the shoreline. Learning to read the clues shown by water and waves can help you hook up and land more fish.
My first advice to the inexperienced surf fisherman in regards to reading the beach – visit your fishing spot at low tide. Observe the terrain for clues to where the sandbars, sloughs, holes and rips are located. Depending on the beach, sometimes these clues are quite dramatic; at other times amazingly subtle. Going through the exercise of scouting the beach at low tide and fishing when that beach is covered by the rising tide, you will start associate the wave action with the structure underneath.
What does the water and wave action tell the surf fisherman? You have shore-breaks, off-shore breaks, tidal rips, dancing waves, points, man made structure, dark and light patches of water just to name a few. Let’s take a quick look at some of these features.
If you find that perfect “Honey Hole” today, don’t expect it to be there next week or even tomorrow. The wave, wind and water action cause the structures along the beach to change all the time. If you’re fortunate enough to find a spot that produces fish day in and day out, good for you; however be prepared to search and scout for prime fishing spots often.