A Beginner’s Surf Fishing Guide – Good Gear and Tasty Fish

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One of the best activities to do outdoors is, well, fishing. You feel the fresh breeze brush against your face and the salty water tingle your hands. If you are also a camper like me, then you probably enjoy camping. In fact, a lot of campgrounds are close to the shoreline, but it can be quite the challenge if you are unfamiliar with it. As such, a beginner’s surf fishing guide is crucial.

The Top 5 Tips for Surf Fishing

Keeping these tips in mind will make your first time surf fishing a great one. Most of the battle of catching fish is entering the mind of a fish and understanding their world. When you master that, you will become an unstoppable angler.

  1. Understand the seasons. Most fish are migratory, so they swim with the changing seasons. The fish you catch in Winter will be different from those you catch in Summer. Late Spring, early Summer, and Fall provide the opportunity to catch the widest variety.
  2. Take note of the tides. You should know that the water is highest at dusk and dawn, making it a good time to fish. Also, the height of the water has a lot to do with the moon. Spring tides are those which appear one to three days after a full or new moon. This is another good time to fish, especially at dusk and dawn on those days.
  3. If you see diving birds, that’s a good sign. Birds do not dive into water unless there is fish to eat. It means that there are fish in large numbers. You can capitalize on that by casting your line where they are. The same goes for a cluster of fishermen. Do not be afraid to squeeze in on the action.
  4. Do a low tide survey. Take note of gullies, ravines, weed patches, shellfish beds, hollows, banks, rough ground, and any fish attracting obstructions. When you do this, you enter the fish’s world. You start to better understand where it will go and the environment that they live in.
  5. Cast accurately and consistently to the area you think holds the fish. Fishing isn’t a race. It is about catching fish. That is all it is. So while it may feel macho to overcast, it is not necessarily where the fish are. The key to throwing a successful reel is precision and accuracy.

Hook ‘Em and Bait ‘Em

Aside from a good quality rod, a good hook and tasty bait are the key to getting the fish. Fish don’t bite unless it is something tasty, so good bait is essential. Once they bite, a sound hook will be sure to keep them on the line.

Good Bait, the Key to Get ‘Em to Bite

Whether it is a snake eating a mouse on the sand or a customer munching on a burger at a fast food restaurant, everyone likes to eat good food. It is no different when it comes to fish. They like to eat well and something they know. The familiar is what they will eat.

Stick to mullet, shrimp, and squid. Shrimp is all-purpose and capable of attracting all species, but it can fall off of the hook so be sure to bring mullet and squid. Both of these two will last longer on the hook, but they are not universally liked by fish.

Talk to local fishermen or a bait shop near your destination. They will know best what the fish like to bite on.

Keep ‘Em on the Line with This Proven Tool

There is a wide variety of hooks you can use because, well, there are a lot of different fish in the ocean. For each species of fish, you can bet there is a particular rig for it. As a beginner though, you are going to want a two hook leader along with a 3 – 4 ounce pyramid sinker.

If you want to try a variety of hooks, then you should think about getting a hook multi pack for surf fishing. It will offer an array for you to try out. As a result, you can explore the different hooks and see what you like. In general though, you cannot go wrong if you keep it simple.

When it comes to lures, again, go simple. Simplicity lets you focus on technique and your skill. In other words, go with an uncomplicated silver or gold spoon variety. When you choose the straightforward route, it saves you headache down the road. As was stated when it comes to bait, talk to your local bait shop. They know best.

Tackle to Make Your Trip a Success

Good gear with great technique is an excellent combination. If you have the right gear, then it makes fishing a lot easier.


  • 1-2, 12-15 ft (3.6-4.5 m) rods, a proper fishing rod means the difference between you eating fish and ordering fish at a restaurant. When looking at fishing rods, you need to consider power, action, and length. Heavier rods are harder to bend, while lighter rods are less so. Action refers to how and where a rod bends when force is applied. If you can handle a longer rod, then go for it. If not, you might want to consider a shorter one.
  • Knife, with a knife in hand, you can descale fish, and gut and clean them. It is always a handy tool to have around. You can use it elsewhere as needed.
  • Needle-nose pliers or hook remover, when fishing, a hook can get stuck in your catch. Instead of taking it out with your hands, use pliers or a hook remover in place of your hands. It makes life a lot easier.
  • Bucket, a bucket can store your catch, bait, and anything you else you might want. A good bucket is a versatile tool.
  • Small cooler or bait container, with either one of these you can keep your catch cold or store your bait.
  • Sand spike, if you are not fishing out on a pier, then you will want one of these for each rod. You can stick one in the ground along with your rod. They can be as simple as a sharpened PVC rod or something more complex that you buy. Once that is done, you can sit back and enjoy the day.
  • Large salt water spinning wheel, because this is salt water fishing, the fish have a lot more room to move. With one of these, you can be sure to have plenty of line.
  • 20-25 lbs fishing line, when you have this kind of line along with a sizable rod, you can cast up to a 100 yds (91 m). Many experienced anglers can cast up 200 yds (182 m) with this kind of line.
  • Hooks and bait, please refer to the section above where I discuss both of them.


  • Tackle box, most of the time, you can get away with lugging your bait, hooks, and specialty items to the beach by hand. Surf fishing is a lot easier, though, if you can get a tackle box. A good tackle box keeps your items organized, reducing headache.
  • Specialty cart, my Dad has a bad back, so I would encourage him to get a cart. Besides taking a load off your back, a good cart can keep your gear organized all in one place.
  • Chair, when you are waiting for the fish to bite, it helps to have a chair to sit down in. Check out this article I wrote about Helinox camping chairs. They are good, long lasting chairs to rest yourself on while you are waiting.

A Final Word on Surf Fishing

When you fish out of the ocean, you feel the salty sea breeze kiss your cheek and the water caress your hands. It is quite the feeling to fish. You connect to the past in doing so. It may take some time before you feel that first bite. But once you do, it is a rush like no other.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please do share this article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

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10 Comments on “A Beginner’s Surf Fishing Guide – Good Gear and Tasty Fish”

  1. Thanks for the tips Alex! I always find fishing very difficult around my area due to the the constant change in current. I’ve tried spearfishing too but it’s also quite difficult, I will have to pay attention to the current and see if there’s a group of diving birds in a particular area next time I go!

    1. It is wonderful to hear that you found these tips helpful Jeremy. The ocean currents can certainly put a damper on your fishing experience. Spear fishing sounds quite fun. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. Great post Alex. I haven’t gone fishing in a while but one of my favorites is beach fishing.

    I just pulled out all my fishing gear last week and definitely need a top up on some tolls. Any tip on how to stop some of my fishing kit from rusting?

    1. It is good to know that you found this article helpful Vince. It is nice to hear about your fishing gear. To stop your fishing gear from rusting, put in some cotton balls. Another option is to use some silica gel packets. They can be found anytime you buy something that needs to stay dry. I hope this helps you.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. Hi Alex
    Thank you for the tips. I have always wanted to learn how to fish but didn’t have an idea how, recently I learned about the flies and was excited. After reading your article I feel my next step is to purchase the rod and start the surf fishing game! Thank you

    1. It is wonderful to hear you found this article helpful Mercy. I hope you catch a lot of big ones! Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  4. I love the checklist you included on what to bring when surf fishing! My brothers love it, however I’ve struggled with getting the hang of it. After reading your article, I think its because I haven’t put enough thought into what attracts the fish and which locations are best to try. Will give these tips a shot! Thanks.

    1. It is good to know your brothers love surf fishing and you found this article helpful. When fishing, you have to go into the minds of fish to get the hang of it. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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