It was season two when Captain Noel Kuhn took me to school on how to surf fish; that episode reignited my love for the sport. With four kids, I’ve found that surf fishing is the perfect way for me to get my fishing fix and spend time with family at the beach – it’s a win/win!
There are few activities that absolutely embody the Florida lifestyle like surf fishing. Part fishing, part day at the beach, this timeless sport has been woven into our coastline for centuries, and there are many ways to approach it. You can get serious and invest exorbitant amounts of money, buying top-notch gear, or you can drop $75 at Walmart and be up, running, and ready to surf fish.
Personally, I take a laid-back approach, with the attitude of, “Hey, if I catch a few fish, great! If not, well I’m at the beach, so I can’t lose!”
One of my favorite spots to surf fish is at Canaveral National Seashores, just south of New Smyrna Beach. Here you’ll find a great surf fishing shoreline, full of drop-offs and holes where fish love to hang out. Try to time your trip with the two hours right before and right after high water; this is the ideal time to surf fish.
Tip: The first parking lot has a freshwater shower for rinsing off your gear and yourself.
When approaching the beach, stop at the highest point and look up and down the beach. You’re looking for dark-colored water or rip tides; these are areas you’ll want to try first, as they may be holding fish. Fish the canals between sandbars that fish use to move up and down the shoreline. Most of the fish caught in the surf feed on shells, sand fleas, and crabs; water that is churned up creates feeding opportunities for fish.
When it comes to gear, you don’t need much.
The most important item is rod and reel designed for surf fishing. Make sure the rod is at least 10-12 feet long for casting distance. I suggest visiting your local sporting goods store and asking them for suggestions. If you’re new to the sport, I recommend starting out simple/cheap, then expanding from there.
Next is bait and tackle. For this, I would seek out a bait and tackle store in the area where you’ll be fishing and get the skinny on best rigs and baits for the area. My go-to bait/tackle store is New Smyrna Beach Bait and Tackle; they know what’s biting and they have a wide variety of baits and tackle. Never shy away from asking, “What’s biting?” Remember, they want you to be successful so you’ll come back and buy more stuff, so they’re more than happy to help you!
Here’s a list of the items I bring along:
– surf rod and reel, of course
– surf fishing tackle
– bucket for… (well, you always need a bucket for something, right?)
– bait knife to cut bait
– old rag to wipe off the fish slime
– variety of frozen baits
– one sand spike per rod
– a chair, if you dare sit and relax
– cooler for drinks and storing fish (if you want to keep fish), and yes – I have one cooler for both fish and beverages
I’ve put together a list of resource links and videos to help you get started (below).
Happy surf fishing.
Let’s be honest, the great outdoors has been upstaged lately by the comfy and plugged-in environment that is the modern American home. So, for you parents who want your kids playing outside like you did growing up, this can be an uphill battle....