Surf Fishing Tips- Who Needs a Boat!
Fish can be caught off the beach throughout the year here in NC, from waves of feisty Spanish mackerel in the spring and summer to football-field sized schools of red drum in the winter. Who says you need to own a boat to catch fish around here!
Surf fishing is the perfect way to go for many anglers. It allows people looking to get started fishing and vacationers the opportunity to catch some great fish without having to have access to a boat. However, it can be just as much fun for the experienced local angler looking for some serious rod-bending, sight fishing action. Pretty much every beach across the NC coast will have fish within casting range of the sand at all times, so there's really no excuse not to get out there and try!
Here are some of our favorite tips for surf fishing in NC:
1. While many immediately think of massive 12ft. surf rods and long casts past the breakers when they think of surf fishing, neither is totally necessary. We often use our normal inshore tackle that we'd use in a boat. However, it is nice to have traditional surf tackle for those days when the fish are way out there!
2. Read the beach and water. Finding the right sloughs (calm water between the beach and outer bar), breaks in sand bars, and inlet pockets can be the difference between a record day and getting skunked.
3. It can be tempting to wade out as deep as you can stand in order to get your casts out further into the ocean, but this is often not necessary, and could even be hurting your fishing. Lots of these fish will be schooled up in knee deep water right off the beach, as this is where they are afforded better protection from predators and a buffet line of food from the crashing waves.
4. Keep an eye out for sharks, especially when walking in channels between sand bars. It is not uncommon to see sharks darting in and out of a school of fish or around a bait ball. If harvesting fish, you are better off leaving those fish in a cooler on shore than tying them off at your waist.
5. Bring a good pair of polarized glasses and some lens cleaning wipes when you wade out into the surf. Surf fishing can provide some of the best sight fishing opportunities found in NC, and you will need those glasses to pick out the fish in the waves.
6. Once fall rolls around, it's time to put on some waders. In most cases, non-insulated chest waders will get the job done, but feel free to get some extra mileage out of those max-4 insulated waders you bought for duck hunting.
7. Take care of your surf fishing tackle. You can almost be certain that your rod and reel will be splashed with corrosive salt water while surf fishing, so it is important to thoroughly clean them with fresh water to flush everything out. If you end up submerging your reel, we would recommend taking it apart when you get back home and greasing it back up.
If you want a reel specifically built to withstand the beating that comes with surf fishing, check out the Tsunami Shield.... Here is some video evidence just in case you don't believe us!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brCB5ZBy91k
8. When in doubt regarding what to put on the end of your line, just look along the shoreline to see what's around. You can either catch the live crustaceans/baitfish and use them or find an artificial lure that mimics these creatures.
9. If you aren't actively seeing fish, it's time to put on some live or dead cut-bait and chuck it out there as far as you can. Eventually, a roaming fish is going to pick up on the scent and come straight for your hook.
10. Come visit us to find out exactly what is currently being caught in the surf, which beaches are holding the most fish, and what to throw. We also have a dedicated surf fishing collection in our online store to help get you started with the right gear!