A statement by a fellow angler last week has me thinking. Being among the wise and sophisticated, he has asked to remain anonymous.
"The trouble with most fishing is that it was always better before you got there and will get better after you leave. "
Of the many anglers I have fished with over the years, it is hard to rationalize all the quirks they have shown. Some horde a bottle of fish scent, others a ring or necklace. Some have a trusted rod, favorite lure or fishing spot, while some cherish a tattered vest, shirt or fishing cap.
Significant to the wearer and proven worth beyond measure.
The battle is won - as long as they wear, carry or maintain the ritual which gives them confidence. However, I have discovered - often the man with the least experience is the most confident.
Surf Fishing Tactics
I have received a number of requests for Surf Fishing Tactics. Since weather has sidelined any consistent water days, this should fit the schedule. Surf fishing requires a bit of specialized tackle and is well suited to amateur and season anglers.
Rods & Reels - Long spinning rods are preferred which allow casts beyond surf breaks. Match the rod with a spinning reel that has a good drag and plenty of line capacity. Poor combinations result in poor distance, sore muscles and few returns.
Weights - The amount will vary. Veteran anglers use strip weights, bell or bank sinkers, the pyramid weight is the standard for most surf fishermen. Clip your line to a double drop bottom rig and a long leader and you are ready to bait your hook. The Carolina rig can be used but is not as efficient at keeping your bait on the bottom as round weights tend to roll, twisting line and leaders.
Hooks - Your hook should correspond to the fish being pursued. Carrying a supply of 1/0 to 5/0 hooks in your tackle box and make adjustments as needed. It's not often you will need anything larger than a 5/0, but then again you never know what lies just beyond the break water.
Baits -The most widely used bait for surf fishing is squid. Cut into thin tapered fillets with skin intact, the strips imitate swimming baits and provide plenty of movement in the current. Other bait choices include shrimp, mullet, crab and menhaden. Shrimp should have the tail and head cut off, crab can be used whole or cut, menhaden like mullet can be stripped or cut into chunks.
The Catch - You will catch a good many stingrays and sharks. Keep long nose pliers and a sharp knife among your gear. A good bit of your catch along the surf will be mixed. Presently large whiting are the dominant species but your rod will bend to others as well. Flounder, Pompano, Bluefish, Spottail Bass, Spanish Mackerel and Croaker have been taken as well. A shark or stingray on the beach can be intimidating, but they can be returned to the water safely. If you are not planning a seafood dinner, carefully remove the hook and release the fish. For deep hook sets, simply cut the leader as close to the hook as possible. If you use circle hooks, deep hook sets are not as common, a simple twist of the shank is often all that is needed to release the fish.
Best Times - Experience has shown the most productive time is 1 to 2 hours before and after high tide. If tide and times coincide early morning and the first two hours of daylight are better. If you catch the full moon, early evening hours can be equally productive. High winds and rough waters force fish to deeper depths. You stand a better chance fishing waters of 3 to 5 feet.
The Beach - Sandbar breaks, gullies, channels, tidal pools, and the slightest change along the bottom will make a difference. Look for birds, fleeing baitfish and dark shadows. Pick your target then look - watch and cast, the formula for a winning combination.