Surf Fishing on the Atlantic Coast

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As the wind blows across the ocean, some of that wind energy is transfered to the water in the form of waves. In the deep water they will travel hundreds of miles and often are hardly noticeable. Once the waves hit the shallow water they swell up until they crest and break on the shore. It is in this interface between land and sea where many creatures including fish and fishermen find food opportunities.

One of the charms of fishing from the beach is that you never can be really certain of what you will catch. It could be anything from a 1 lb kingfish to a 60 lb red drum or even a spider crab.

How to Surf Fish

In general surf fishing requires casting relatively long distances usually at poorly defined underwater structure, although this is not always the case. That being said one of the most common errors made by a beginning surf caster it to attempt to use brute force to power their cast, usually with mixed results.

Where the fish are

In a sandy beach during high tide there will generally be a trough or slough formed in the sand parallel to the shore by the breaking waves. This slough can be identified as a area of flat water between initial cresting waves and the waves breaking on shore.

At low tide fish tend to be farther out some times beyond the sand bar.


It is possible to have success with a fresh water rod only 6 or 7 feet long and 10 pound line if the seas are calm and the wind is light, however it is better to use a longer rod. A 9 or 10 foot medium action rod with a saltwater spinning reel loaded with 15 to 20 pound line is a good start. Don't go overboard either, stick with a rod 12 feet or less and no line heavier that 25 pounds until you gain some experience.

Equipment to Start Out With

  1. Waders - hip or chest waders - if the water is too cold to wade in
  2. Surf Rod and reel
  3. Assorted weights pyramid sinkers 2 to 4 ounces
  4. Some hooks, sizes 2 to 1/0
  5. Stainless steel pliers
  6. Headlamp - if fishing at night
  7. Sand spike

Although many serious surf fishermen use artificial lures, most will use natural baits such as bloodworms or bunker. Usually the local bait shop can give you a good idea of what will work best for a given time of year or set of weather conditions.