Tag Archives: Fishing rod

Fall Surf Fishing

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

It’s getting to be that time of the year again—the dog days of summer are beginning to wane (even here in Florida), and there’s a cool breeze in the air. Pretty soon the water temperatures will begin to drop, and that means different fish species start to pop up on the radar for fall. If you’re lucky enough to live near the coast, you may find yourself in the perfect position to do one of my favorite types of fall fishing: surf fishing.

Man fishing on the beach.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

I’m asked fairly regularly by friends of mine to take them fishing when they haven’t actually been before. When it comes to taking someone fishing for their first time, it’s generally best to pick something low-key. I’m not exactly about to go pole the tarpon flats with the fly rod with someone who has never even caught a fish before. So when I introduce someone to fishing for the first time, it’s almost always surf fishing.

Surf fishing combines two of the greatest things around: fishing and sitting on the beach. And honestly, it’s generally fairly action-packed. But before you go running off to cast some lines out into the water, take the time to plan properly to maximize your enjoyment and success.

Tackle

Generally speaking, the name of the game with surf fishing is long distance casting—you want to be able to get the bait out past the breakers and into deeper water. At least one long surf casting rod is a must with line and leader weight depending on the species you’re targeting. For species like pompano and whiting, I generally stick with 10-12 lb test. With other species, like redfish, it might be wise to step up the game a little. Fall (particularly down here in Florida) is when the big bull reds come in to spawn. It wouldn’t be surprising in the least to hook a 40+ inch fish from the beach, so plan accordingly.

Fish in a cooler.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

When it comes to leaders and bait, I almost always use a double or triple dropper rig with a pyramid weight. The pyramid weight will help keep the bait from rolling around in the surf, and the multiple hooks allow for more bait. And everyone knows there’s no such thing as too much bait.

Equipment

Rod holders (a.k.a Sand Spikes)! These are pretty much a requirement. No one really wants to hold onto their rod the entire time as sometimes it takes a while for the bite to pick up. Bury the sand spike into the sand, and make sure it’s secure before putting a baited line in it. The simple fact that you don’t have to hold onto your rod now opens you up to use multiple rods, which increases the amount of bait out in the water (yes, lots of bait is important). This also means you can cover more water, which is important because sometimes fish aren’t always present in every part of a hole.

A fishing rod perched in the sand.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Coolers and carts are also fairly important in my book. Coolers for the obvious reasons of keeping fish and drinks cold, but the cart for its simple ease factor. Drop the cooler in a cart, put the rods inside of it, and suddenly you’re only making one trip from the truck instead of five. I’m also a HUGE fan of using folding chairs once I’m set up on the beach. I generally place the chair right in the middle of my setup so that I’m equidistant from my two rods farthest away from me, and then I sit back and enjoy a cold drink without sitting in the sand. Don’t get too comfortable, though; it’s not uncommon for three or four of your rods to get strikes at once, so you might not be doing too much sitting.

Tactics

The final and probably most important part of surf fishing are the actual tactics involved. They aren’t particularly complex, but you must always remember that not all parts of the beach are created equal. There are good spots and bad spots; holes that produce fish, and holes that just waste time. Look for areas of deeper water where the breakers aren’t, well, breaking. Deeper water closer to shore tends to hold fish. Also keep track of which direction your current is moving parallel to the beach. I like to set up on the down current side of certain holes to catch anything that may be chasing bait as it’s pushed along by the current.

Remember how I mentioned a longer rod is nice to have? Well it isn’t just nice because you can cast further. It’s important to try and place your sand spike as high as you can above the water line, because once you’ve cast out, the line is now at a downward slope toward the water. The longer the rod, the higher that point of entry is into the water, and the line doesn’t drag in the water as much. This is important because incoming waves tend to pull on the line, and it’s often easy to mistake a wave as a fish strike.

Fish.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

So if you find yourself with the chance to hit the beach this fall, consider giving surf fishing a try. If you’re also ever looking to take someone fishing for the first time, always give this type of fishing a go. It’s extremely low-key with easy clean up and is often times quite action-packed. Worst case scenario, their first time fishing includes siting on the beach and catching a good tan all morning, and that’s still pretty hard to beat. The only thing to make it better is a cooler full of pompano.

Gone Fishing: Springtime Fishing Events at the State Parks

May is the perfect time to hunt down that fishing rod and tackle box, rustle up some bait, and get out on the water. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, this spring there are plenty of fishing clinics and tournaments at the state parks for all kinds of anglers. Just another good excuse to discover a new fishing hole.

Little girl fishing [Image: www.alaskafishingak.com/freshwater/freshwater.htm]

Image: www.alaskafishingak.com/freshwater/freshwater.htm

Alabama

Mead Westvaco Annual Bass Tournament
May 2nd, 2015 – 5:30am
Lakepoint Resort State Park
Number of boats expected: 40
Weigh in at 3:00 EST
For more information, contact Larry Bettison 229-366-1759

2nd Annual Joe Wheeler State Park Youth Fishing Rodeo
May 2nd, 2015 – 8:00am – 11:00am
Joe Wheeler State Park
For youth through age 14. There will prizes and trophies. Bring your own tackle and bait. Participants must register and pay $1.00 fee to enter rodeo. Adult supervision required.

Eufaula Bass Trail Fishing Tournament
May 9th, 2015 – 5:00am – 4:00pm
Lakepoint Resort State Park
Number of boats expected: 40 – 60
For more information, contact Lester Bratcher at (334) 726-5697 or by email les.bigbitebaits@gmail.com

Catfish Rodeo
May 23rd, 2015 – 8:00am – 12:00pm
Blue Springs State Park
Fishing tournament for kids 12 and under. Bring your own pole or rod and reel, but there will be some bait available to participants. Adult supervision required. Prizes will be awarded.
For more information, call (334) 397-4875 or email: bluesprings.stpk@dcnr.alabama.gov

Bass jumps from water for bait [Image: bassfishing.sportclubs.rutgers.edu]

Image: bassfishing.sportclubs.rutgers.edu

Mississippi

Lefleur’s Bluff Fishing Rodeo
May 9th, 2015 – 8:30am
Lafleur’s Bluff State Park
Youth fishing rodeo for kids 15 years of age and younger. Participants must bring fishing equipment and bait. Games, prizes and tagged fish!
For more information, contact Mike Stepp at (601) 987-3923 or (601) 562-9296.

Pennsylvania

Family Fishing Festival
May 2nd, 2015 – 9:00am – 12:00pm
Ohiopyle State Park
Fishing event for anglers 12 and under. Meadow Run will be freshly stocked. Registrations is from 9:00am – 10:00am, and fishing goes from 10:00am to noon. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the festival.

Intro to Fly Tying & Fly Fishing
May 2nd, 2015 – 9:00am – 1:00pm
Presque Isle State Park
All ages welcome at this free introductory fly fishing program. Equipment and materials provided.
Register for this event at (814) 833-7424.

Fly-Fishing Basics
May 2nd, 2015 – 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Parker Dam State Park
One of the park naturalists will introduce participants to fly-fishing. Session will include discussion about techniques, learning basic knots, and practice fly-casting.

Man stands on boat fishing in pond [Image: adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/fishing]

Image: adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/fishing

Virginia

Make Your Own Fishing Lures
May 2nd, 2015 – 11:00am – 12:00pm
Kiptopeke State Park
All supplies are provided and a park ranger will be on hand to demonstrate how to make fishing lures. $2 per person; $6 per family

Let’s Go Fishing! – Children’s Fishing Tourney
May 16th, 2015 – 9:00am – 11:30am
Chippokes Plantation State Park
A casual family fishing event that includes awards for first, second, and third place in fish length and for greatest number of fish caught.

Kansas

Fishing’s Future Family Fishing Clinic
May 2nd, 2015 – 9:00am – 12:00pm
Hillsdale State Park
This clinic is taught by Kevin Reich, and will give participants important information about species identification, knot tying, live bait regulations, casting practicing, and fishing etiquette and safety.
For more information, contact Kevin Reich at (785) 577-6921.

Show Me the Smiles Crappie Tournament
May 3rd, 2015 – 7:00am – 2:00pm
Hillsdale State Park
Terry Acton, host of “Show Me the Outdoors” on 610 Sports Radio and DJ Kirby with Karl Kolonka from “Krappie Kings” (TV) will be hosting the Crappie Tournament. Family-friendly event including prizes, raffles, silent auction, musical entertainment and concessions. A free dental screening for kids will be available from 10:00am through 2:00pm, too.

Wishing everyone tight lines this spring!