You have seen them, people fishing from the beach and casting out into the ocean. Saltwater fishing from the shore is what they are doing, though do they catch anything? What is needed?
Angling does not get much better than fishing from the shore for saltwater fish. You don’t need a boat or a captain. The gear is easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Almost anyone can cast from the surf. You can enjoy sunrises or sunsets over the ocean at no extra charge. There are also abundant species of hard-fighting and delicious fish to catch, including flounder, sea trout, striped bass, rockfish and the ravenous bluefish.
Here are some tips to do it best and what you may catch.
All you need are a couple of 7- to 8-foot spinning rods with about 15-pound-test braid, a small tackle bag/box with extra Carolina rig tackle (weights/beads/hooks), a spool of 15-pound-test fluorocarbon for leader and some pliers. You want to bring pliers, so remember them. There are indispensable when trying to get hooks out of deep-hooked fish. A five-gallon bucket of ice to put shrimp and bottled water in, and you will just toss fish in there that you catch. Bring a chair if you want to be comfortable saltwater fishing from shore.
If you want to take something tasty home for the grill like pompano, redfish or flounder, a simple Carolina rig with a 1- to 2-ounce weight sweetened with a half to whole fresh shrimp on it is about as deadly as it gets. If you’re beachy enough to spot sand fleas (mole crabs) in the wet sand and can dig some up sand fleas make excellent bait. Guaranteed, if a swarm of pompano or a school of slot reds comes by, they are not going to turn their nose up at fresh shrimp.
For saltwater fishing from shore, you want to use without exception, live bait. When fishing from shore you are primarily sitting still and waiting on fish to come to you. Casting and reeling artificials like you’re in a bass tournament is just not the right thing to do. Many have tried just about every kind of bait when shore fishing and fresh shrimp is hard to beat. Simply stop at a local seafood market and buy a half a pound of fresh shrimp. It stays on a hook better than frozen shrimp and you don’t have to worry about keeping it alive.
Best times to saltwater fish from shore
Early and late. Get to a good spot at first light before all the beach activity starts and you can have a nice red or a few pompano in the bucket before the first umbrella pops up on the beach. Evening time also works well, especially if a big thundershower runs everyone off the beach late in the afternoon. Once the storm passes in the evening, the beaches are usually quiet and it’s a great window to take advantage of some shore sitting with a rod or two.
Best places to saltwater fish from shore
Always try to apply your shore fishing efforts somewhere near passes, cuts, tips, points or capes that transition from the ocean into bays, estuaries or lagoons. Obviously, fishing the jetties or “the rocks” inside passes and cuts that connect the ocean to bays is prime, but it can get crowded. Don’t overlook the beach stretches a half a mile on either side of the passes. Yes, the cut or pass is the primary funnel for bait and fish, but there are a lot of fish that like to hang out on either side of the passes, too.
How to cast
Get into a shotgun stance for casting by putting your right foot forward and pointing it toward your casting target (if you fish right-handed). Or put your left foot forward if you prefer to cast left-handed. Whichever way you fish, the foot planted forward in the sand should be on the same side of your body as the hand controlling the reel.
Plant your other foot back in the sand and turn it outward 30 to 45 degrees with your feet spread slightly more than shoulder width. Bounce on your knees a couple of times to check your balance until you have learned a comfortable stance.
Lift the surf rod above your head and behind you until the rod is parallel to the sand.
Pick your casting spot, which should be immediately behind the breaking surf where bait fish are gathering in the changing tide, to leverage the rod’s power.
Swing the rod up and over your head, releasing the line when the rod tip is pointed at your casting target.
Give the rig time to sink and settle on the sandy bottom. You’ll feel a slight pull when the pyramid sinker hits bottom.
Retrieve the line in a stop-and-go manner, twitching the rod tip frequently to bring the bait up off the bottom so it can settle again.
What you can expect to catch
Some of the common types of saltwater fish sought out by anglers are bluefish, bonefish, cobia, cod, flounder, grouper, halibut, jewfish, kingfish, mackerel, marlin, pacific yellowtail, redfish, sailfish, sea trout, sharks, snapper, snook, striped bass, tarpon and tuna are a few.
Don’t wade so far into the surf that you are unable to control your rod and reel above the water. This not only helps preserve your gear from unnecessary exposure to saltwater, it also is a good safety practice, so you don’t lose your footing.