Surf fishing

What is surf fishing ?

Surf fishing is the sport of catching fish standing on the shoreline or wading in the surf. The basic idea is to cast a bait or lure as far out into the water as is necessary to reach the target fish from the shore (around one hundred meters, behind the third wave). Highly skilled fishermen are able to cast out to 160 meters and over, however, you will still get good results casting 20 meters out from the shore ! Surf fishing is a recreational activity, yet requires a number of skills: you will need special equipment, information on tides and to have a good grip and a lot of power in order to achieve some beautiful casts. Ready to jump in ? Here are a few tips and tricks in order to get started !

When and where ?

When surf fishing, all areas are suitable, but some are better than others: Baïnes (1), pits, estuaries, oyster beds, rocks and wrecks are particularly good. What you want is a spot with uneven relief and seafloor as these zones are perfect hideaways for small fish and are also where bigger fish will come to feed. Surf fishing is, like a lot of other fishing techniques, dependent on the elements (weather, tides, wind speed, etc…). There are so many different types of species that can be caught using this technique therefore the best time to catch fish while surf casting varies greatly. However, you are better of surfcasting just before sunrise and after sunset.

(1) A « baïne » is a geographical phenomenon unique to the Aquitaine coast of France found in the departements of Gironde, Charente-Maritime and Landes. It takes the form of a small pool of water, parallel to the beach, directly connected to the sea. These are spaced every 300 to 400 metres and formed under the influence of waves and the tide.

Which species can you expect to catch while surf fishing ?

Eel - plaice - croaker - mullet - sar - wolf - sole - turbot - flounder - sea bass - salt cod - whiting - mule - dab - sea bream - meager - stingray - striped sea bream - cod - pout - pollock - garfish etc…
As you can see a large number of species can be caught surf fishing. The most sought after are of course sea bass, sea bream, and sargo : these real treasures of the sea are big favorites !

What kind of natural bait can you use to surf fish ?

For the 3 species mentioned above, the following bait is the most effective: Sea bass loves squid or sand eel. To catch sea bream, use little crabs. And a nice big worm or mussel meat will maximise your chances of catching sargo.
Generally though, a lot of different bait can be used while surf fishing:
- Worms : sandworm, catworm, peanutworm;
- Crustaceans: crab, shrimp;
- Mollusks: knife, cockles, squid, clam, clams, cuttlefish, squid;
- Live bait: Sand eel, goby, sardine, mackerel, smelt.
Please note that specific bait works best on certain types of fish: worms tend to attract carnivorous fish, where as small fish and cephalopods attract the biggest carnivorous fish (which is why it’s usually the bait of choice for surf fishing).

What equipment do you need for surf fishing ?

Here is the basic equipment you will need :
You will need to be well equipped in order to go surf fishing. Your equipment should be robust and well suited to this particular technique. i.e: be able to withstand the agressive wind, sand and surf which can really damage your fishing gear.
The basic surf fishing kit is made up of the following:
- Telescopic fishing rod with at least a 4 meter butt section. Fiber glass and/or carbon composite. Rod power : 90-200 grams on average to be able to withstand the action of the waves.
- Spinning reel that can hold a 200 to 300 meters no memory fluorocarbon PVDF or nylon (monofilament) fishing line.
- Sinker that is 40g or more and up to 200g depending on what type of surf fishing you want to do (light or heavy), wandering or tilted surf fishing (most used are grapnel sinkers so that the setup stays anchored in case the current is strong and there are big waves)
- Sand spike rod holder to keep the rod vertical.
- Accessories for the lower part of the line : rolling swivels or snaps, colored and phosphorescent lure beads, sleeves, jigs, etc.

What extra equipment might I need for surf fishing ?

In order to cast your line further out, you have to get further into the water, we therefore recommend that you wear waders : it’s important to be dry and warm from head to toe. Wear a big pair of socks and several layers of warm clothing, a beanie…don’t hold back !
Because surf fishing is often practiced at night time, you will need a good headlamp.

Alright, you are now well equipped and ready to get into the surf to try your hand at surf fishing !

List of species for this type of fishing
Kelp bass or Calico bass

Kelp bass (paralabrax clathratus), also commonly called calico bass, which is found along the Atlantic coast of North America from Baja California (Mexico) to Washington (US).

Striped bass

Striped bass (morone saxatilis) is a fish of the Moronidae family found along the Atlantic coast of North America.

Find a fishing guide !

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