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Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing

Shock Leaders for Surf Fishing

If you’re not very well-versed in the world of surf fishing, some of the tackle and gear used, as well as the strategies, might be totally foreign to even the most skilled anglers.

There are a number of different strategies and tactics used in surf fishing that don’t apply at all to freshwater or even offshore deep sea fishing.

When it comes to the question of whether or not you need to be using a shock leader for surf fishing, there is no truly definitive answer for every scenario.

In some cases, shock leaders are an absolute must-have item among the rest of your gear and tackle while in others, it might not matter that much at all.

Read on if you’re interested in learning more about shock leaders and are wondering whether you should be using one on your next surf fishing trip at the beach.

What is a Shock Leader?

A shock leader is basically a heavier length of line that’s a few feet long and is used to prevent you from breaking your line when casting out into the surf.

You won’t have to use a shock leader for freshwater fishing or even fishing along the saltwater inlets and offshore reefs out on the ocean. These are exclusively used by surf fishing anglers and they play a major role in the overall function of a surf fishing rig.

Surf fishing often requires making very hard casts to get the bait out as far as possible. Anglers will use surf fishing rods that are longer and better suited for catapulting their rig out well over a hundred feet or more into the ocean.

Having a shock leader helps to absorb the extreme amount of pressure caused by a heavy rig that consists of a baited hook and sinker.

Shock leaders are usually a few feet in length, up to about 40 or 50 feet in some cases depending on what the angler is targeting and the weight of their rig.

Another way that a shock leader helps improve your overall performance on the water is by protecting your main line that is spooled onto your surf reel from developing any abrasions or nicks that could cause your line to snap.

Leader line is often very thick and heavy, with some anglers using well over 100 pound test for surf fishing.

When to Use a Shock Leader

You don’t always have to use a shock leader when surf fishing, but it is something you should certainly consider if you’re using a heavier presentation and trying to cast your surf fishing bait out as far as possible.

Whether or not you’ll need to have a shock leader really depends on what surf gear and tackle you’re using, as well as what kind of fish you’re planning to target.

If you’re using a monofilament line, you’re more than likely going to want to use a shock leader, especially if you’re using a lighter pound test line.

When using any type of fishing line, you want to make sure that your shock leader is at least twice the pound test of the line you’re using. You’ll want to have a shock leader on your rod, unless you’re using a heavier 50 or 60 pound test fishing line.

Mono vs Other Lines

Mono line has more ability to stretch than any other type of fishing line due to its composition and the fact that it’s made of basically one single strand of material.

Having several feet of much heavier line on the end of your main mono fishing line helps to offset the weight capacity and force that you’re putting on the main line and increase its ability to stretch.

This also helps you launch your surf fishing rigs out much farther than you would by simply using only your main monofilament line because the heavier mono leader is usually capable of stretching to a greater degree.

Typically, you won’t need to use a shock leader if you’re using a monofilament line that’s heavier than about 30 pound test. This is true if you’re using a normal-sized rig that’s not overly large or heavy.

If you are fishing with a heavier rig, such as a bigger hook and larger sinker used for species like sharks or other very strong fish, it’s usually a good idea to tie on a shock leader just to make sure you don’t snap your line.

The only instance where you certainly won’t need a shock leader is when you’re using a heavier braided fishing line. Braid is much stronger than mono or fluorocarbon fishing line and is made up of multiple strands of highly durable material.

You shouldn’t expect braided line to have the same stretching capability that mono does, but it is much stronger and will usually hold up well, even if you’re fishing with a heavier rig.

What Size/Length Shock Leader Should You Have?

When it comes to deciding whether or not you really need to be using a shock leader, the answer is usually yes. But how long should the shock leader be? How heavy should the line be?

There are a few rules of thumb that most surf fishing anglers go by to make sure they’re getting the right amount of durability and stretch in their shock leaders.

The first thing you need to calculate is just how much your rig weighs. This includes the sinker, hook, and bait. If you have a solid understanding of the weight, or even just a rough estimate, you can usually count on the fact that you’ll need at least 10 pounds of line strength for every ounce that your rig weighs.

In other words, every ounce you have on your rig translates to an increase in your line test of at least 10 pounds.

If you’re fishing with a 4-ounce rig, you’ll definitely need a shock leader that’s at least 40 pound test monofilament fishing line.

This is virtually true for nearly any rig, no matter how heavy it might be. Always go with a monofilament line as a surf fishing shock leader so that you get the most ability to stretch as you cast.

The length of the shock leader is another common question that anglers have. You certainly don’t want to have a shock leader that’s too short and doesn’t adequately serve its purpose.

Most anglers will use different lengths depending on the type of fish they’re going after or how heavy the line might be, but it’s better to be too long than too short when it comes to shock leaders.

Your shock leader should typically be at least 2 or 3 rod lengths long, or roughly 25 to 30 feet in length. Some anglers will actually measure this length, but most surf fishing enthusiasts rely on a rough estimate to make sure they have the right amount of shock leader for their particular rig.

It’s also very important that you secure your main line to the shock leader very firmly and tie them in a formidable knot to ensure that it won’t break or come loose.

Conclusion

Using a shock leader with your surf fishing rig is not only something that will prevent you from losing your bait, hooks and sinkers. It will also help to make your fishing experience safer for you and everyone around your position.

A line that happens to break when you make a very hard cast out to sea can be extremely dangerous and pose serious risk to anyone that might be in the way.

Shock leaders can save you a huge amount of frustration when you’re fishing around rocky areas with lots of cover as the line will be more capable of withstanding the rough underwater terrain.

By knowing just when you need to have a shock leader, as well as tying on the right kind of shock leader and using the proper amount of line, you’ll greatly increase your angling success along the shoreline and have much more confidence in your equipment and tackle.

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Surf Fishing for Redfish

Surf Fishing for Redfish

Redfish are one of the most popular game fish species along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coast. Many anglers consider them to be among the most exciting fish to catch due to their massive size and aggressive feeding habits at certain times of the year.

Avid anglers will agree that there’s nothing quite like catching bull reds on a topwater plug or other lure during the warmer months when they venture into shallow waters.

Redfish are known by a variety of different nicknames such as red drum, reds, channel bass, spot tails, and many other names depending on the region you’re fishing in.

For much of the coastline along the southeastern United States, redfish can be caught year round in the surf at almost any beach.

Fishing for reds from a boat is a huge advantage as you’ll be able to maneuver back into the inlets and flats where they will congregate in large schools.

However, if you don’t have the luxury of fishing from a boat, you can still have success surf fishing for redfish by using the right approach and the proper rigs.

In this article, we’ll cover the most important tips you’ll need to know when it comes to catching reds in the surf at your favorite beach.

Best Time to Catch Redfish in the Surf

If you’re already familiar with surf fishing, you probably know that it can be quite different from catching fish in the calm, shallow inlets. Redfish will usually venture closer to shore as the weather warms during the early spring.

Having success catching big redfish in the surf comes down to using the right approach and being at the right location at the right time.

Redfish are a migratory species that will move to a new location throughout the year depending on the water temperature. Most of the time, redfish will gravitate toward areas where the water is at least 65 degrees and typically no warmer than about 90 degrees in the midsummer months.

When the water temperature begins to drop, you can expect the redfish to move out of a certain area in search of more comfortable habitat.

In the spring, redfish will begin moving out of the deep water where they’ve been throughout much of the winter months.

As they slowly make their way toward the shoreline of most beaches around the southeast, they will usually stick very close to some type of underwater structure such as reefs, shipwrecks, rocks or other objects.

Grass will begin to spring up in some areas when the water temperature heats up, which creates the ideal spot for redfish to move into. These fish love hiding in tall grass as it allows them to easily blend in and ambush any potential prey at the same time.

Redfish will feed more aggressively during the spring, but the bite will typically slow down when the heat reaches 90 degrees around the month of July.

Once the heat sets in during the summer, redfish will become a bit less active. They will spend most of the day taking cover in or around structures where they can find shade.

They will become much more active in the early morning or just before dark since they will be able to avoid the blazing sun and extreme temperatures.

The fall is when redfish will begin their annual spawning routine. This is widely considered to be the best time of year to target redfish as they will usually feed voraciously on anything they can attack. Reds will venture deeper into inlets and other inshore areas where they will prepare to lay their eggs.

The best time to catch redfish in the surf is anytime from late spring to early fall when they will be roaming the coastline looking for their next meal.

In late fall, when the spawn finally cranks up, you probably won’t have much luck catching redfish from the surf unless it’s a lone bull red making its way back out to the deeper water offshore.

Best Locations for Redfish in the Surf

Like any other stretch of water, you’ll need to be able to properly read the surf in order to determine the best spots where redfish might congregate or pass through.

Since there is rarely any cover for redfish in the surf, you’re more likely to have success in the early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t beaming down on the water.

Avid redfish anglers also know that an overcast day will usually bring cooler temperatures, which can be an outstanding time to catch redfish in the surf.

Redfish will generally prefer waters that are more rough and have harder tow than usual because it’s easier for them to chase down baitfish that can get disoriented by the strong waves and current.

This means that you shouldn’t always assume that the fishing might not be that great when the surf is very high. In fact, the opposite is usually true on most beaches around the southern United States around the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Pompano

You’ll want to look for areas where the waves break unevenly along the surf, or where there’s a dark spot in the water. This typically indicates some sort of depth change, which usually draws redfish in where they will set up to ambush small, unsuspecting bait fish as they swim by.

You’ll usually have better luck at times when the tides are shifting since redfish will use this time to take advantage of an easy meal.

If you can find any sort of structure along the beach, you can usually bet that there are redfish holding close to it throughout the day and this will be the best possible area to fish.

Surf Fishing Techniques for Redfish

Redfish won’t venture very far away from ledges and structure along the beach, so you’ll want to cast your rig as close as possible to any type of structure that you deem to be a good spot for reds to congregate. If there is no structure, you can expect redfish to be actively feeding in the surf just off the shoreline.

You don’t have to cast the rig out to a considerable distance to have the best chance at catching redfish. In fact, most avid redfish anglers who commonly fish in the surf say that reds will sometimes be about 20 feet off the shoreline at any given time as they hunt in the surf.

Also Read: Best Surf Reels

For surf fishing, you’ll want to use a pyramid sinker since these will usually do a better job of holding your line in place, no matter how strong the surf gets. Simply attach the pyramid sinker to a snap swivel that you then attach to your main line and you’re ready to hook your bait on the line.

You’ll want to have a heavy barrel swivel tied to the main line that is connected to a heavy leader line using a crimp.

Finally, you’ll want to use a circle hook that’s either 8/0 or 12/0 in size. Anything smaller won’t be able to hook the redfish’s mouth and larger hooks will usually be too big for most redfish to fit in their mouth. The best possible bait you can use is typically cut bait.

According to most avid surf anglers who regularly target redfish, your best bet is to go with porgies, mullet, pinfish, or some other type of small bait fish that redfish will be looking for in the surf. Using these types of bait will appeal to the fish’s sense of smell and they will often work to track down the bait in the surf.

Other Tips

Once you pick your spot for surf fishing for reds, you’ll want to spread your surf fishing rods out about every 20 feet or so, depending on how well you’re able to keep them monitored. Be sure to have the rod holders firmly in the sand as a monster bull red can easily pull the rod holder free and take off with your rod and reel.

Most small to medium-sized reds will run their prey up into the beach to eat them, which means you might see your line moving toward the beach if you have a bite. If this happens, simply wind the slack line up onto the reel and put pressure on the hook to make sure you don’t lose the fish.

Conclusion

Redfish can be one of the most exciting species to catch in the surf. If you stick to these tips and have a good amount of patience, you should be able to land a decent amount of redfish in the early morning, or late evening hours.

Be ready for any size redfish as the big trophy-sized reds will usually be prowling the surf during the early morning hours shortly after sunrise.

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Surf Fishing at Night

Surf Fishing at Night

Surf fishing is something that most anglers consider to be a daytime activity since the tides are shifting at night as it can be difficult to see your rig and line. However, more and more anglers are venturing out under the cover of darkness to catch the many different types of fish that feed after the sun goes down.

There are a number of benefits to fishing at night such as the fact that you can avoid the blazing sunlight and the winds are usually not as bad either. Plus, there aren’t any beach-goers trying to swim in the water, which means that you’re pretty much free to fish anywhere you want along the beach.

If you’re looking to get started surf fishing at night, we’ve compiled this article to give you some of the most basic tips and techniques you’ll need to know in order to be successful.

Best Locations for Surf Fishing at Night

Since you’re fishing at night, you won’t have to contend with beach-goers who are swimming in the water and obstructing some of the best fishing spots in the same way they do during the daytime.

You’re also not having to contend with other anglers who might already have the best locations to fish locked down early in the morning. This is one of the most freeing aspects of surf fishing at night and can serve as a huge advantage to anglers who truly utilize their freedom to fish virtually anywhere on the beach.

Saltwater fish will usually prowl around coastal areas throughout the night in search of various prey that might be swimming among the waves near the beach.

Sharks are also more active at night and surf anglers typically will hook into a few sharks while fishing at night. The best locations for surf fishing at night tend to be relatively the same as the top spots for daytime fishing.

Also Read: Where to Cast When Beach Fishing

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you’re going to be dealing with the changing tide at night, which means water will surge into the shore, covering areas that are usually exposed during the daytime.

This can be a major advantage for anglers who take the time to go out and scout during the daylight hours for a suitable fishing spot that offers significant depth changes or pockets.

As the tide continues to move in, you may have to relocate or simply move your gear and fishing position back a number of feet in order to avoid being soaked.

Be sure to look for areas of the beach that form deep holes or spots where large fish will lurk in wait for unsuspecting bait fish to swim by where they can easily be ambushed.

It’s also very important that you check the weather and be prepared for any potential rain or storms that might move into the area. Storms are known to move very quickly near coastal areas and can come up without much warning, leaving you scrambling to get your gear back to your vehicle or where you’re staying.

Also, keep an eye out for strong winds that could develop as this will certainly make fishing at night much more difficult.

Best Baits to Use for Surf Fishing at Night

When it comes to selecting the best type of bait to use, there are a number of factors that come into play that will determine whether or not you have a successful outing on the beach at night.

As always, it’s very important to do your research prior to arriving at your fishing spot and gaining a more thorough understanding of the different type of fish in the area you’re at, as well as what type of prey those game fish species like to go after at night.

Remember that fish will use their sense of smell to a much greater degree at night as they aren’t able to see as well in the water. Certain surf fishing baits that work during the daytime won’t always prove to be successful under the cover of darkness.

It’s usually a good idea to use baits that are naturally occurring in the area during the specific time of year you’re fishing from the surf. Things like sand fleas, crabs, squid, shrimp, herring, and other cut bait are typically considered to be ideal choices that anglers can’t really go wrong with.

As with any other type of fishing, you’ll want to ‘match the hatch’ and use baits or lures that closely resemble the same thing your target fish are going after. If you’re hoping to catch larger fish like sharks, be sure to rig a larger size bait and hook on your line.

Using the Right Tackle

When it comes to what kind of tackle you’ll need for surf fishing at night, your overall rod selection, as well as line, hooks and sinkers will remain relatively the same as what you’d use during the daytime.

If you’re specifically trying to catch large sized fish like sharks, be sure that you have a rod that’s big and heavy enough to handle fighting a fully-grown shark in the surf.

Since you’ll have much more room and won’t be impeded by beach goers and other anglers for the most part, it’s a good idea to use multiple rods to help maximize your chances of catching fish. Most surf anglers who venture out at night typically use at least two or three rods and some will even have as many as 5 or more per angler.

If you use multiple surf fishing rods, be sure that you’re keeping a very close eye on each rod in order to reel in any fish that happen to bite.

Failing to do so can usually result in the fish running parallel to the shoreline and getting tangled in the other lines you have set in the water, which can be a massive headache and will take loads of time to either untangle or cut the lines and tie all your surf rigs back on.

Other tips for Night Surf Fishing

Fish behavior will be slightly different at night than during the daytime in most areas. Instead of staying well away from the shoreline beyond the breaking waves, fish are much more apt to bite close to the shore.

This means that the usual strategy of casting your rig out as far as possible doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. If you’re using multiple rods, you’ll be best served if you utilize them in such a way as to fish multiple distances from the shoreline with one rod as far out as you can cast and the others set at incrementally shorter distances.

Also Read: Surf Fishing Gear List

Most anglers who have much experience surf fishing at night recommend that it’s best to stay out of areas that have larger waves when possible.

This is a tip that rings true during the daytime, as well as the night, but fish will almost certainly be hunting for potential prey in areas where the waves are a bit more calm. This usually allows them to more easily chase after fleeing bait fish without losing them in the waves.

Be sure to bring along plenty of lights that will properly illuminate your surroundings and help you see your rods and fishing line as well as possible. Having a bright headlamp is a must when it comes to surf fishing at night.

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Surf Fishing for Flounder

Surf Fishing for Flounder

Flounder are one of the most sought after fish along the coastlines of North America. They are known as one of the most unique saltwater game fish in the world as they have a reputation for burrowing down into the sand and waiting on their next meal to swim within reach.

Flounder are specially adapted to hunt in this manner thanks to their eyes being situated on one side of their head.

Despite their freakish appearance, flounder are excellent table fare and many anglers consider them to be among the tastiest of any coastal fish species.

Flounder fishing involves utilizing certain techniques that would often not work for other species. Most anglers who target flounder will cruise around the shoreline in search of the distinctive tracks the fish leave behind when they burrow down into the sand.

These tracks are often hard to see from the shoreline, making it a bit more difficult when it comes to surf fishing for flounder, even in areas where boaters normally have great success.

To offset this disadvantage, anglers can use a variety of techniques that help them cover more of the shoreline’s bottom in search of these elusive fish.

If you plan to have a successful outing along the shoreline when it comes to flounder fishing, we’ve compiled a few of the most important tips you’ll need to know in order to be successful.

When to Fish for Flounder Along the Surf

Surf fishing is vastly different from targeting certain species of saltwater fish from a boat. While these fish typically roam around along the shore, catching them from one central location on the beach can be difficult.

Fishing from a boat will allow you to target flounder at virtually any time of the year, but surf fishing for flounder is mostly done in the warm weather months of spring into the early fall in most areas.

Flounder typically retreat to deeper water once the water begins to cool. They often swim out near large reefs where they will usually congregate in large numbers.

Their annual spawning ritual takes place in these deep waters and flounder won’t return to their summer time habitat along the coastline until the waters once again begin to warm.

If you plan to fish along the shoreline for flounder, it’s best that you do so throughout the spring and summer in order to have the best chance to catch anything.

Sometimes anglers can still catch flounder along the coastline in the early fall months, but they will begin to move out to deeper water when the water temperature drops below 60 degrees in most areas.

Being able to fish from a boat will allow you to utilize a number of deep water techniques and tactics to catch flounder in great numbers.

Most anglers often report catching bigger flounder in deep water as the more mature fish of the species are likely to be less pressured when they are in the sanctity of deep water reefs that are hundreds of feet or miles from the coast.

However, if you’re stuck fishing from the surf, there are certain ways you can maximize your efforts to bring in sizable flounder from the shore.

Where to Catch Flounder in the Surf

Surf fishing can be very confusing to those who are largely unfamiliar with fish behavior in the waves along their favorite beach. Some species of fish will avoid these areas while others seem to thrive in the surf and are regularly caught along the waves of most beaches. Flounder are one of the most common species of fish that you’ll find along the shoreline of any coastal area.

They often prefer the calmer waters near inlets and other areas, but you can also use certain techniques to probe the bottom for any flounder that might be lurking below the waves.

In many cases, flounder prefer burrowing down into the sand in areas where the tide is changing because this will usually be their best chance to ambush unsuspecting bait fish or other creatures.

It’s often nearly impossible to spot flounder in the surf since the crashing waves usually distort the water so much that anything on the bottom is mostly indistinguishable from the sand itself.

In most cases, people will only realize a flounder is nearby when they almost step on them and the fish quickly darts away, leaving a cloud of debris in its wake.

If you’re planning to fish along your favorite beach for flounder that might be burrowed into the sand among the waves, there are a few very useful strategies that will typically bring you success in your efforts.

Surf Fishing Techniques for Flounder

Beach fishing typically involves using a long, heavier surf rod and large surf reel to cast a variety of different kinds of bait well past the breaking waves and into the calm waters beyond.

Unlike the average method for surf fishing, you won’t have any success by casting your line out and placing your rod in a holder only to sit and wait for a flounder to bite. Instead, you’ll need to be proactive in your search for flounder and scour the beach with your rod and reel.

Anglers who are willing to make plenty of casts along their chosen beach will usually find a few flounder hidden among the waves if they use the right tactics. Since you won’t be able to get a sense of exactly where the flounder will be in the surf, you can use your bait to probe the area.

There are a few types of bait you can use to fish in a ‘fan’ pattern that allows you to thoroughly cover every square foot of the ocean floor along the coast.

While it’s typical for most surf anglers to cast their lures and bait out as far as they can, you’ll only be wasting your time doing this for flounder fishing.

Your best strategy when it comes to fishing along the surf for flounder involves casting the lure or bait out about 20 feet and slowly working it back in towards the beach. In many cases, flounder prefer to stay closer to the shore in an effort to avoid predators like sharks or other fish.

Surf Fishing Rigs for Flounder

Shrimp is the most popular menu item for flounder and you can choose between various soft plastic lures that are designed to look like shrimp, or the real thing.

Using real shrimp will appeal to the flounder’s sense of smell, as well as their eyesight, but you should be aware that other species of fish might easily tear the bait off your hook before you have a chance to catch your target.

You’ll likely find that using the imitation shrimp lures is less frustrating than having to stop and put more bait on your hook every few casts. Most anglers who have success fishing for flounder in the surf prefer to use a combination of a bucktail jig along with a shrimp lure.

You’ll want to tie the shrimp lure on a few feet behind the bucktail jig on the same line. The jig will act more as a sinker than an actual lure in this instance and the flounder that you’re after will most likely focus on the shrimp as it makes its way over their position. Be sure to fish slowly and thoroughly work the rig over every inch of coastline.

You’re more likely to have success fishing this style rig along areas that feature depth changes. Flounder like to burrow down on the low side of a ledge or dip in the bottom and use it as a spot where they will ambush their prey. If you’re aware of a ledge like this, work it very thoroughly and you’ll likely get a bite from a flounder at some point.

You can also swap out the shrimp lure for any kind of natural bait you want to use. There are instances where flounders might be more apt to bite cut bait or even small crabs instead of shrimp.

Conclusion

The key to flounder fishing is to remember that they are stationary fish and will not move from their location unless forced to by humans or large predators.

With this in mind, you should exercise patience when fishing an area of the surf for flounder. Eventually, you will get a bite.

When you do finally have a flounder bite your lure, you might realize that they will not aggressively strike at it like other saltwater fish species. Instead, flounders will sometimes be more subtle and bite the lure without trying to run away.

If you’re working the rig along and feel weight on the line, don’t try to set the hook immediately. Wait a few seconds and lift the line again to feel for any movement.

If you use this method, you’ll have plenty of success and will be able to find the right spots in the surf along your favorite beach for flounder fishing.

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Surf Fishing for Spanish Mackerel

Surf Fishing for Spanish Mackerel

Spanish mackerel are among the most popular fish species that saltwater anglers target for a few simple reasons. They make excellent table fare, are highly prevalent along the coastal United States, and they are loads of fun to catch.

They are commonly caught by anglers fishing out in the open ocean, but can also be caught with the right tackle and techniques from the shoreline.

If you’re like most anglers who fish along coastal areas, you probably don’t own a sportfishing boat, so you’re left to try your luck from the shore in the surf.

Contrary to popular belief, surf fishing for spanish mackerel can be just as productive as fishing over deep water reefs and shipwrecks miles offshore.

In fact, surf fishing for spanish mackerel is an excellent way to catch these tasty species and any angler can have a successful outing if they stick to a few time-tested methods that have proven effective when it comes to catching spanish mackerel.

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish mackerel are one of the most prevalent fish in the waters surrounding the United States and South American coastlines. They are migratory fish that will move along the coastline and inhabit certain areas depending on the temperature of the water in an area.

As the weather cools during the late fall and early winter months, spanish mackerel will make their way down the American coastline down to the Florida Keys and the Carribean where they will remain until the climate heats back up again.

These fish will generally move in large schools where they are known to hunt down other creatures like squid and shrimp. They will often follow these types of prey far into the shallow waters near the coast and they will cruise along the surf looking for potential meals.

When they venture into these shallow waters just off the shore, spanish mackerel will begin to target various types of bait fish that they can easily out-swim and chase down for an easy meal.

The spanish mackerel is nearly identical to the larger king mackerel, but has a few distinguishing features like the bright yellow spots dotting the sides of their bodies. These fish are virtually built for speed and power, which makes them one of the most fun fish in the ocean to catch.

When to Catch Spanish Mackerel

If you’re looking to target spanish mackerel, the best time of the year to do so is generally once the weather heats up during the spring months along most coastal shorelines.

Anglers can expect to start catching a few spanish mackerel once the water temperature in their area reaches approximately 70 degrees. If you’re relatively familiar with the water temperature in a given area, you can usually anticipate when spanish mackerel will start to arrive.

For most anglers who fish along the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, spanish mackerel will start to make their presence known around early April as the water temperature moves closer to the optimal 70 degree mark.

From that time through the hot summer months is one of the most ideal times to target spanish mackerel. In most areas along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coastline, these fish will stick around until mid-to-late November when they will make their way back south toward the equator.

Best Locations for Spanish Mackerel

If you’re relatively new to saltwater fishing, or fishing for spanish mackerel in general, there are a few solid tips you’ll want to keep in mind. One of the best indicators that fish are nearby are seagulls and other birds that fly overhead and keep a close eye on the water for unsuspecting prey.

These birds will be the first to spot fish like spanish mackerel chasing after small schools of bait fish and picking off any stragglers or simply swimming straight into the school and attacking them head-on.

If you’re walking along the coastline and see a cluster of birds overhead that are periodically diving down into the water, you can rest assured that it’s a prime spot for catching fish like spanish mackerel.

In most cases, you can watch these birds for a few minutes and gain a better understanding of just how far out these fish are depending on the general location where the birds are diving down into the water.

As soon as you spot an area like this, it’s a good idea to set up your gear and claim the spot as other anglers will likely move in quickly as well.

In general, spanish mackerel will hunt for their prey in water that’s anywhere from 20 feet to 5 feet deep. As you might expect, spanish mackerel will go wherever they are most likely to find bait fish congregating in large numbers.

This means that you’ll have a good chance at catching these fish from a pier, jetty, bridges, or other structures that are known locations where bait fish will take refuge in or around the structures and hide from predators.

How to Catch Spanish Mackerel in the Surf

Unlike most other fish species that anglers target along the coast, spanish mackerel generally prefer to strike at a moving target instead of a stationary bait that doesn’t move.

Anglers must tap into the predatory instincts of spanish mackerel and entice them to bite by making their lure of choice look like a frantic, fleeing bait fish that’s desperately trying to get away from the predator.

For this reason, anglers who target spanish mackerel will often use lures like spoons, plugs, tube lures, and a variety of other methods. There’s no need to use the same long, heavy surf rod and surf reel setup that you might utilize for typical surf fishing as you’ll need something that’s capable of throwing a smaller, lighter lure out as far as possible.

In most cases, a 7 or 8-foot rod with a smaller saltwater spinning reel attached will be more productive than the heavy surf fishing rigs that are equipped with 50 pound test line.

When surf fishing for spanish mackerel, be ready to use a totally different approach than you might go with for any other type of fish.

Spanish mackerel are aggressive feeders and are much more likely to strike at a lure that’s rapidly moving across the water’s surface, or just below the top of the waves.

A good rule of thumb for beginner anglers who are unaccustomed to fishing for spanish mackerel is to retrieve your lure at a speed that you might expect to be much too fast for most fish to bite.

In reality, anglers who do this will get more strikes as a fast-moving lure somehow activates the spanish mackerel’s instinctive need to chase down fleeing bait fish and take advantage of an opportunity to grab an easy meal.

One of the best strategies for ripping a lure through the water in the right spot to catch spanish mackerel is to cast the bait out well past a sandbar and work it back toward the rising bar very quickly.

If you’re doing this for several minutes without a bite, it’s advisable to slow down your retrieve just a bit and experiment with various speeds. Sometimes a spanish mackerel will strike at a lure that’s moving at just the right pace.

Conclusion

Spanish mackerel often travel in packs or schools, so if you catch one, there’s a high likelihood of there being others in the near vicinity looking to feed on any potential bait fish they can.

Most avid surf anglers will have their usual long, heavy rods cast far out past the breaking waves and securely fashioned in rod-holders.

It’s a good idea to have lighter surf fishing tackle that’s specially rigged to fish for Spanish Mackerel as you can quickly grab this rod and make a few casts when you see several birds congregating overhead.

In doing so, you can take advantage of the moment and land a few decent-sized Spanish Mackerel while you’re fishing for other species in the surf.

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Night Fishing for Striped Bass

Night Fishing for Striped Bass

When the weather heats up and the days become filled with the sweltering heat of the sun, most anglers prefer to do their fishing under the cover of darkness.

This benefits their chances of success for a number of reasons, most importantly because the fish will likely be employing the same strategy to hunt down their prey at night.

Striped bass are much like most other predatory fish when it comes to feeding and hunting habits.

Stripers know that their chances of ambushing bait fish and other types of prey are much better under the cover of darkness than it would be in the daytime when their prey might be able to spot them.

Night Fishing for Striped Bass

Night fishing has exploded in popularity over the past few decades as anglers become more familiar with strategies and tactics that work when it comes to night fishing for striped bass.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the main points you should consider if you want to maximize your chances of successfully fishing for striped bass at night.

Night-time Behavior of Striped Bass

Stripers are like most other bass species in that they will almost always use their surrounding environment to their advantage when it comes to hunting for food.

Striped bass will begin to be more active as the weather starts to warm up in the early spring. They will usually engage in heavy feeding habits in the few weeks leading up to their annual spawning ritual.

After the spawn, they will usually rest for a few days and then go back to feeding again to build back any strength they lost during their spawning activities.

This is a time when stripers can be caught during the early morning hours and late evening, but as the weather continues to heat up throughout much of North America, striped bass will increasingly begin to feed more at night.

Like most other large fish species, striped bass prefer to stay away from overly warm water as it is simply not comfortable for them to stay in it for very long.

They almost always prefer to be in the cooler, deeper portions of most lakes and rivers, as well as coastal areas. As the summer heat takes hold across much of the continent, various creatures will become more active at night, including those in lakes and rivers.

Striped bass always take notice of this increased activity and will take every chance they can to feed and hunt for prey during the night hours when the water is cool.

Stripers also have a significant advantage when hunting at night as their prey typically can’t see them as easily as they can during daylight hours.

Where to Find Striped Bass at Night

One of the most prominent questions among anglers who are learning the tips and tricks of night fishing for striped bass is where to find stripers during the night hours.

Remember that striped bass are opportunistic feeders that will use every type of structure or depth change to their advantage when it comes to hunting prey.

With this in mind, it’s important to consider where stripers are likely to stage at night and where they will have the best chance of ambushing their prey.

Also Read: Freshwater Fishing for Striped Bass

In most instances stripers will stage along points and the mouths of creeks or rivers where they will prowl around in search of unsuspecting bait fish. They can also be found along any type of sharp drop-off or ledge where they are able to ambush anything swimming over the edge.

Many anglers have successfully caught striped bass around deep creek channels and virtually anywhere else stripers can gain an advantage over their prey—much like they do during daylight hours.

What Lures or Bait to Use

Catching striped bass at night involves using many of the same types of bait you normally would during the daytime, but with slightly different approaches to certain areas.

Many anglers successfully use live baits like shiners and herring or other choices, but anglers have also reported having great success using artificial lures as well.

If you plan on using artificial lures, be sure to stick with those that are capable of drawing the most attention from striped bass as these giants will often be using their other senses besides sight.

In most cases, lures that create a distinct vibration or rattling noise are excellent choices and will draw strikes from hungry stripers who are willing to chase them down or ambush them as they pass by.

Stick baits and jigs work very well, but crankbaits are usually one of the most popular choices of lure among experienced striper anglers. In addition to shallow to deep-diving plugs, topwater baits are also another solid choice of lure in many cases.

Remember that you’ll need to use dark-colored lures when fishing at night instead of bright colors as fish can see these colors better.

The best live bait for striper fishing at night is undoubtedly live lining shiners or shad. If you can purchase these bait fish from a nearby bait shop, be sure to keep them inside an aerated tank in order to ensure that they are lively on the end of the hook and won’t quickly go belly-up.

Also Read: Best Bait for Striped Bass

Hooking bait fish on their back just behind the dorsal fin is the best way to keep them alive and allow them to swim around while hooked.

Using the Right Gear

One of the main differences between fishing for stripers in the daytime and night fishing is the fact that you can manipulate light conditions on the water to create a greater advantage for catching these monster fish.

Thanks to recent innovations in fishing and lighting equipment, anglers can utilize high-quality products that are capable of illuminating wide sections of the water.

These lights are aimed at bringing in baitfish and other prey that striped bass hunt for at night and they are known for being highly effective.

When using these lights, anglers have found that striped bass will come close and investigate what other types of bait fish are swimming in the area.

Stipers will typically lurk just beyond the light’s reach, in the shadows, waiting for a baitfish to unknowingly focus its attention toward the light, or for it to stray too far away from the light and into the dark waters only to be devoured by the striper.

Seasoned striper fishing enthusiasts who have experience fishing at night all agree that using shiners and other types of live bait fish around these lights are a highly effective strategy for catching monster striped bass during the summer months.

In order to have the best chance of getting a strike using this method, try to keep your bait out towards the edge of the light’s reach in the water.

This will put it closer to the striped bass that are lurking and circling the light and will usually draw a strike if the bait stays in place long enough.

Some anglers will put small glow ticks on the tip of their striper fishing rods so that they can detect the bite and strike quickly but they are not really a necessity.

In addition to using lights to illuminate the water, you’ll also want to come prepared to light up your boat and anything else you need to see clearly.

It’s often a good idea to just wear a good quality headlamp instead of trying to use a handheld flashlight when it comes to night fishing since this will free your hands up to allow you to perform various tasks and reel in your catch.

Also Read: Are Striped Bass Good to Eat

It’s also crucial that your boat is well-lit and other boaters passing by can easily see it and avoid any potential collision on the water.

Conclusion

If you follow the basic tips we’ve covered in this article, you should be off to a solid head-start when it comes to night fishing for striped bass.

Be sure to always be aware of your surroundings as boating accidents and other mishaps usually happen more at night as anglers aren’t able to see as well.

Lastly, it’s important to pay close attention to the laws in the specific area you plan to fish at night. Some lakes and waterways have certain restrictions or regulations that anglers must abide by in order to legally fish at night for any species.

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Best Bait for Striped Bass

Best Bait for Striped Bass

Striper are known throughout the world of fishing as some of the most voracious feeders in the oceans, rivers and lakes.

They engulf huge numbers of almost any kind of bait fish or other creatures that come within striking distance and will usually eat significant amounts of food each day to grow to the enormous size that they are known to reach.

When it comes to narrowing down their selections to the top choices, it can be tough for most anglers to pick just one single bait that’s better than others.

There are plenty of striper fishing enthusiasts who have their own personal preference, but if you asked each angler to compile a list of their top 5 best bait for striped bass, the odds are good that you’d get the same basic answers from each one.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best baits for striped bass and discuss when, where and how each one should be used in order to maximize your chances of catching one of these giants.

Best Striped Bass Baits

1. Shad

Perhaps the most popular choice of bait among anglers who target striped bass is the shad. These small bait fish will gather in small or even very large schools and travel together in order to find safety in numbers.

The fact that they run together in these schools might not be the most protective strategy when it comes to striped bass as they are known to follow these schools and pick off stragglers or go directly into the school to devour mouthfuls of shad in one single bite.

Schools of shad are the main reason why so many striped bass travel many miles up rivers and into large lakes during the spring of each year.

As they prepare for their annual spawn, they will seek to devour as much prey as possible in the few short weeks leading up to their spawning ritual as they might go days or longer without eating while spawning.

Shad can be purchased at most bait shops near lakes and rivers that are known for having large numbers of striped bass.

Rigging a shad so that it can swim around a few feet below the water’s surface is often an excellent strategy for targeting hungry stripers during the spring and early summer months.

Most skilled striper anglers advocate for keeping shad as lively as possible right up until you’re placing the hook in them as striped bass are said to prefer these types of bait live instead of dead.

2. Bloodworms

In some areas throughout North America, bloodworms are widely considered to be the best bait for striped bass during the winter months when stripers are very deep and can be found near the bottom of most waterways.

Bloodworms are an exceptionally popular choice of bait in the northern portion of the United States, as well as along the coastal regions on the East Coast. They are highly effective in attracting strikes from stripers when no other baits seem to work.

Many anglers are shocked to find that bloodworms are very expensive compared to other types of bait and even other worms. In some areas, a large bloodworm might sell for as much as one dollar per worm.

For anglers who are truly dedicated to catching monster stripers, investing in a large amount of these bloodworms is a strategy that will eventually pay off.

In most cases, using bloodworms presents a few challenges that you don’t normally deal with when it comes to striper baits. They are small, which means bloodworms are likely to be picked off by fish that you’re not intending to catch.

This is something that is simply part of the process of striper fishing and most anglers will attest to having to unhook dozens of smaller fish to catch one decent-sized striped bass.

3. Crabs

When it comes to fishing in saltwater areas for striped bass, there are certain types of baits that are considered better than others.

Crabs are among the most popular choices of bait for saltwater stripers as they are very effective in weeding out other types of smaller fish that anglers don’t want to deal with.

In fact, you might catch any assortment of the most popular kinds of sportfish that live along coastal areas when using crabs, but it’s unlikely that you’ll have smaller fish steal your bait in the same way they are capable of picking off worms.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Stripers

Stripers are known to go after hard shell crabs when they are hungry enough, but their favorite choice of crab are those which have a softer shell or even a soft underbelly beneath their hard top shell portion.

Striped bass are known to cruise many miles along coastal areas in search of crabs lingering in the sand.

There are certain advantages to using hard shell crabs like the fact that it’s harder for small fish to rip them off a hook.

Also Read: Can You Eat Striped Bass

However, using a soft shell crab is typically going to maximize your chances of catching stripers, but you’ll also be running the risk of other types of predatory fish stealing them off the hook or even biting and putting you through an intense fight before you’re able to land them and make another cast with a fresh crab on the hook.

Crabs are known to be more popular in the southern regions of North America and are generally used in the warmer months of the year when they are more prevalent along coastal beaches.

4. Bunker and Herring

Among the best baits for striped bass that many anglers consider to be their top choice, it’s hard to beat bunker and herring.

Bunker are commonly known as menhaden and are easily the most common bait used to catch stripers.

Herring might be a very close second as both of these types of bait are generally sold at bait shops with a distinct purpose of catching massive predatory fish like striped bass.

It’s not exceptionally hard to find bait shops that sell frozen or salted batches of cut bunker and herring, but the best strategy for using these bait fish to catch stripers involves finding live bunker and herring.

Also Read: Striped Bass Freshwater Fishing

This usually presents a great problem for most anglers as many bait shops aren’t equipped to keep a steady supply of live bunker and herring and generally prefer to sell them as ‘cut bait.’

In order to find a sizable batch of live bunker and herring, anglers will typically have to go get them right out of the water themselves.

This often requires the use of a cast net and can take a number of hours to net a decent amount of bunker and herring that will be sufficient enough for a day’s journey on the water fishing for striped bass.

Both bunker and herring are quite effective, either in live form or as chunk or cut bait that have been frozen.

In either case, these types of bait are generally considered to be the best bait for striped bass as they will effectively catch striped bass throughout all seasons of the year in southern coastal areas.

Conclusion

When it comes to selecting the best bait for striped bass, the most important bit of information is the age-old advice of ‘match the hatch.’

This basically means that anglers should seek to use baits that are naturally-occurring in the general area they are fishing for striper.

It’s also important to understand that you must use these baits at your own discretion as some of them will work more effectively at different times of the year.

In any case, striped bass are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of an easy meal when they see one.

You’ll also need to match your gear to the type of bait rig you intend on using, given that stripers can grow to very large sizes you need to match your striper rods, reel and line setup to the size of fish and the style of casting that you will be doing.

In order to narrow down the best type of striper fishing bait choice for the specific area you plan to fish, it’s a good idea to do plenty of research before your trip and determine the main type of prey striped bass will likely be targeting at the time of year you’re going to be fishing.

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Striped Bass Freshwater Fishing

Striped Bass Freshwater Fishing

Striped bass are one of the most sought-after sport fish species in the world due to their ability to survive in both saltwater and freshwater conditions.

This means anglers can target them around coastal areas, as well as deep inland as they swim up various river systems and lakes in search of their favorite bait fish species throughout the year.

Another reason striped bass are so popular is their ability to truly bend a rod to unreal degrees in some cases.

These fish are capable of growing to more than 70 pounds in some cases and it is not uncommon to catch stripers that weigh in excess of 50 pounds in areas where they are usually targeted.

In fact, the world record striped bass was caught in Connecticut in 2011 and weighed a whopping 81 pounds.

For anglers who plan to target these massive fish in freshwater environments, there are a number of tips and tactics you’ll want to pay attention to in order to have the greatest possible advantage.

Here are some of the most important facts and information related to freshwater striper fishing.

Freshwater Striper Fishing

For most striper enthusiasts, it’s no secret that you can just as easily catch a massive 50-pound behemoth as you can hook into a modest 10 pounder in the same relative area.

Stripers behave quite similarly, whether they are well over the 30 pound mark, or just a few pounds and a couple years old.

It’s commonly accepted that the larger striped bass will usually be caught in saltwater areas as they like to roam the ocean in search of large schools of bait fish.

However, it is quite possible to target massive striped bass in freshwater areas if you know what to look for and have the right tackle.

It’s important to always be prepared to hook into a monster striped bass if you’re exclusively fishing for stripers.

This might save you the headache of losing an expensive lure or rig—or even your favorite striped bass fishing rod—should you hook a monster striped bass with gear and equipment that is too small for the task.

These giant fish are known to quickly and easily break the line of bass anglers and even those who might be crappie fishing in the cold winter months on their favorite lake.

Be sure to use a heavy rod that is capable of standing up to a fight with a 30 pound striped bass as you very well might catch one of this size during your outing.

As most striped bass anglers will agree, it’s much better to be prepared in the event that you run into a large striped bass than to be caught off-guard.

Best Times to Fish Freshwater for Stripers

When it comes to fishing freshwater for stripers, the key will be to pay attention to where the shad are found. This is highly important as striped bass will chase schools of shad for miles up into a river system or large reservoir, gorging themselves on these small prey along their journey.

Shad will school up throughout the late winter and early spring months as the temperatures begin to rise.

According to the most experienced striped bass anglers, the best time of the year to catch these giant fish species is during the spring months of March or April, especially throughout the southern portion of the United States.

As the southern states begin to experience warming trends during March, most of the northern areas of the country are still locked up with frigid temperatures and likely will be until well into late April.

Also Read: Trolling for Stripers

Wherever you plan to fish for striped bass, it’s best to pay close attention to the water temperature and plan your attack for when the water reaches a temperature between 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is when striped bass will become most active as the water has not become too hot for them yet and they are still lumbering out of their winter state of sluggishness.

During this time, it’s easy to find striped bass that will chase any lure that resembles a bait fish with intense vigor.

In many cases, stripers will attack lures that are fished just below the surface, making this particular time of year especially exciting for anyone who happens to be fishing for them.

Best Baits and Lures for Freshwater Stripers

When it comes to deciding what types of bait or lures to use to catch striped bass in freshwater, the choice is obvious—stick with any type of bait that will closely resemble a shad or other species of bait fish that the stipers are chasing after.

In any event, you can’t go wrong by using a type of lure that is meant to resemble a shad as these are the striped bass’ most coveted species of prey.

In freshwater lakes and rivers, striped bass will strike at any type of lure that remotely looks like a shad or small bait fish. These lures include everything from a spoon or a topwater prop bait that churns the water and entices a violent surface strike.

Many anglers prefer to stick with tried-and-true options like crankbaits or jerkbaits as these can be tossed in or around schools of shad and worked in various styles of retrieval to produce strikes from small or large stripers.

Also Read: Surf Fishing for Striped Bass

In most cases, certain lakes and rivers might have specific types of lures that tend to work better than others for certain reasons. Be sure to study and research the lures that are recommended to be used in the particular body of fresh water that you plan to fish.

This research should always include making a trip to the local bait shop and asking some of the old timers or regular anglers who frequent the waterway.

Natural baits can also be used to catch striped bass of all shapes and sizes. Purchasing large minnows or shad from a local bait shop is always a solid plan if you’re hoping to catch monster striped bass.

These can be rigged on a bobber or even thrown in with a small weight and reeled in along the outside of a school of shad to attract a bite.

Where to Find Freshwater Stripers

Striped bass are no different than other bass species when it comes to the particular type of habitat they prefer in a freshwater lake or river.

More often than not, stripers will be found in or around underwater cover like rocks, trees, and any other kind of structure where they can hide and ambush potential prey.

However, when striped bass are more active and are expected to be chasing after shad and other bait fish, they will usually stick to the open water as they are known to steadily cruise throughout the waterway in search of these schools of fish.

Also Read: What Do Striped Bass Taste Like

Stripers will search high and low during the spring months until they find a school of shad for bait fish, which they will then harass and feed on until they have eaten their fill.

Trolling with various kinds of lures is an excellent strategy for finding striped bass in any lake or river as they are usually known to prowl the open water a few feet under the surface as they look for schools of shad.

Anglers can have quite a successful outing by trolling the open water with a few A-rigs that will appear to be a small school of shad running through the lake or river.

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Surf Fishing for Striped Bass

Surf Fishing for Striped Bass

Striped bass are one of the most popular game fish species found along coastal saltwater areas throughout the United States.

They’re capable of living in both saltwater and freshwater environments and can be caught everywhere from rivers and large reservoirs to coastal waters.

Anglers consider striped bass to be among the most prized and sought-after types of game fish as they are capable of growing to massive sizes of more than 60 pounds in many cases.

Striped bass are typically caught by anglers who have specially outfitted boats with heavy tackle and the latest sonar equipment to track down these giants.

However, it’s not absolutely necessary to have a fishing vessel to have a shot at catching a trophy striped bass. In fact, many anglers have done quite well fishing for striped bass in the surf at their local beach.

There are certain areas of advice that surf fishing anglers should follow in order to have a good chance at hooking a striped bass and we will cover some of the most important points in this article.

Striped Bass Species Overview

Striped bass are among the biggest species of fish that are capable of surviving in both freshwater lakes and rivers, as well as saltwater waters.

For this reason, striped bass have become highly popular with anglers all over the world as they can be targeted at various times of the year when they are chasing different types of bait fish species.

Many anglers commonly refer to striped bass as ‘stripers’ and one of the main identification factors these fish have are the long black stripes that typically run the length of their bodies.

It’s not uncommon for striped bass to grow to more than 60 pounds and some anglers have even landed behemoth stripers that weigh in excess of 100 pounds.

Striped bass are found prominently along the east and west coast states in freshwater rivers and lakes, but can also be caught along coastal areas around the United States and Canada.

Some of the most prominent times of the year for striper fishing are during the spring when these giant fish are known to begin their annual spawning routine, as well as some of the different shad and herring ‘runs’ that take place in North American freshwater rivers and reservoirs.

The Basics of Surf Fishing for Striped Bass

Fishing in the surf is an excellent way to catch a wide variety of different types of game fish species that range from small pompano to full-grown sharks and everything in between.

Different areas of the beach are usually more productive for a variety of factors, but anglers who regularly fish in the surf at a particular beach can often pinpoint some of the best locations.

Contrary to popular belief, surf fishing doesn’t actually involve fishing in the crashing waves and strong tidal pulls of the surf itself. Rather, surf anglers commonly throw their lures out well past the surf and into the calmer waters beyond the breaking waves.

This concept applies for anyone who plans to utilize surf fishing as a means to target striped bass as this species will almost certainly avoid the chaos of the breaking waves and stick to the shallows just beyond the surf in coastal areas.

Surf fishing involves using a long, heavy rod that will allow anglers to throw their bait and lures out as far as possible.

When it comes to surf fishing for striped bass, as well as any other species. The farther you can throw the bait out past the waves, the better your chances of catching fish will be.

Also Read: Best Striper fishing Rods

It’s also very important to use the right type of tackle and equipment, as well as the right kind of rod holder since a bite from a large striped bass can easily pull the rod into the water if it is not properly secured.

Best Times for Surf Fishing for Stripers

There really isn’t a certain time of year that is considered to be poor timing when it comes to surf fishing for stripers. Anglers who have closely studied and researched the striped bass species will know that these fish begin their annual spawning ritual during the spring months like so many other fish in North America.

During the spring of each year, anglers can expect to have a slight advantage when it comes to catching some of the biggest striped bass that typically won’t bite throughout the other months of the year.

During the spawn, stripers will swim very close to the shoreline where they will sometimes form schools. As these schools of striper grow in number, they can be caught with relative ease using just about any type of lure, especially those that resemble a small bait fish.

This is likely the best time to go surf fishing for stripers and anglers can catch monster striped bass in rapid succession simply by being at the right place and time.

Also Read: Trolling for Striped Bass

Another very productive time of year for surf fishing for striped bass is during the fall season when stripers will chase after various species of bait fish during the many different ‘runs’ up and down the rivers and lakes of North America.

One of the most popular targets of striped bass are any variation of shad species as these bait fish make up the bulk of the striped bass’ diet throughout the year.

For anglers who are curious about the specific time of day when striped bass can be caught more easily than other times, the same logic that’s used with other species of fish applies to striped bass.

Typically, the early morning and late evening hours are going to be the most productive times of day for surf fishing for striped bass. During these times, stripers will take advantage of low light conditions and ambush their prey.

Best Surf Fishing Locations for Stripers

Striped bass are opportunistic feeders and will typically utilize any type of drop off or ledge to their advantage when it comes to hunting for small bait fish.

They are known to hang out on the lower side of these ledges and wait on unsuspecting bait fish to pass by before striking at them with impressive quickness.

When the weather heats up during the summer months, striped bass will shy away from the warmer shallow waters and can usually be found in deeper areas of any coastal area.

Also Read: Catching Striped Bass from Shore

This usually means that your chances of catching a striped bass during the middle of summer will be the lowest when fishing in the surf.

Look for sandbars and troughs around the beach area where you plan to fish in order to identify prime locations where striped bass might be lurking in search of their next meal.

Bait and Lures

Surf fishing for stripers involves using the same type of baits that you might utilize for other species. These often include cut herring, shad, bunker, shrimp, eel, and many other naturally-occurring prey.

Also Read: Are Striped Bass Good to Eat

Be sure to hook these baits with a large, strong hook that won’t easily bend as striped bass have been known to straighten many hooks that are simply too weak to stand up to their incredible strength.

Utilizing a heavy type of fishing line, as well as a large sinker are also key points to remember when it comes to surf fishing for stripers as you never want to risk being outmatched against a large trophy striped bass that might break your line and your heart.

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Best Surf Fishing Rods

Best Surf Fishing Rods 2021 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Choosing the best surf fishing rod does not always mean picking the longest most expensive rod that you can afford.

While some anglers are obsessed with casting distance and using as large as rod as they can handle, that does not mean that you need to…..

A longer rod does not always mean better.

If you are just starting out then I would suggest that you match your rod to the breaking strain of line and the weight of you sinkers or surf rigs that you will be using at your local beach.

Not sure of what type of rigs to use?

Ask the regular anglers that you see on the beach or at your local tackle and bait shop, as local knowledge is crucial to fishing that stretch in the best possible manner.

What Size Rod for Surf Fishing?

The best size rod for surf fishing will be in the range of 8ft to 10ft, longer 12ft plus rods are usually used for very long distance casting setups.

  • 12 ft  –  Long distance surf rods
  • 10 ft – Great all rounder
  • 8 ft – Close in work for smaller species

You’ll need to pair your rod will a suitably sized reel, the most popular size would be a 5000 or 6000 spinning reel.

Best Surf Fishing Rods

1. Penn Prevail Surf Spinning

Penn have a long history in the surf fishing world for producing not only high quality reels but also some very good rods at a really attractive price point.

The Prevail surf spinning line of rods offer a great mix of power and sensitivity in a very attractive looking package.

Built on a two-piece graphite composite blank you get all of the sensitivity of modern graphite rods combined with the durability and pulling power of more traditional fiberglass rod.

Penn’s Carbon Shield technology protects the blanks with a braided shield of carbon fiber. This additional protection strengthens the blanks and guide wraps.

The finish on these rods is what you would normally expect to find on a rod three times the price.

Moving to the guides Penn use stainless steel frames with aluminum oxide inserts, aluminum oxide is a very hard and smooth material which is great for both monofilament and braided lines.

For to the handles they use rubber shrink tube grips, this material is very durable very strong and it gets wet it doesn’t want to slip out of your hands it’s all-around great material for being around the water.

A DPS reel seat with stainless steel hoods keeps your reel locked in tight.

When it comes to techniques and species these rods are great for throwing doing artificial lures, plugging, soaking dead bait in the surf for striped bass, blues, big redfish, drums you name it these rods cover at all.

A 10 ft medium/heavy is a great surf rod for a beginner which also doubles as a decent pier or jetty rod.

The best surf fishing rod for the money hands down!


2. Daiwa Emcast Surf Rod

If you are looking for a lighter surf rod that you can comfortably make a lot casts with all day without tiring your arm then the Emcast series from Daiwa are a great choice.

The rod blanks are made from a super light weight graphite design that gives a super sensitive tip yet still retains enough backbone to handle larger species.  

If you are throwing bait rigs for smaller species and need a tip that gives a lot of feedback some heavier surf rods may well miss the more subtle bites.

The lighter blank and tip on the Emcast is sensitive enough to allow a lot of feedback back through your line and into the rod blank.

They also work great as a surf rod for throwing plugs, larger pencils and big poppers although the 11ft model may be better suited to all day lure fishing.

If you need a budget, lightweight surf rod that can handle several different surf setups the Emcast make a for a very versatile rod choice.


3. PENN Battalion II Surf Conventional

If you are looking to throw larger bait rigs a good distance then a conventional rod is better suited than a spinning setup.

The Penn Battalion II conventional surf rod is a real work horse at a very attractive price point.

These rods are a little stiffer than some of the lighter spinning rods featured above and are a perfect match for fishing in larger surf and crashing waves.  

The Battalion II graphite composite blanks are built using a novel SLC2 structure that includes inner spiral carbon wraps and outside layers of longitudinal carbon fibers to create a robust, well-balanced rod.

With graphite composite blank construction, Fuji Alconite guides, Fuji reel seats, and durable, easy-to-grip rubber shrink tube-wrapped grips, PENN’s Battalion II surf rods offer outstanding strength, performance, and style.

Paired with a PENN Squall or Fathom casting reel and you have your self a very high quality surf casting setup, and they have the actions and durability that big surf casters need.

A step up in performance and quality from the Penn Prevail line as seen above.


4. St. Croix Rods Mojo Surf Spinning Rod

The St Croix Mojo range has a massive offering of technique specific rods that that feel very light and crisp in the hand.

With the Mojo Surf St Croix have gone for a two piece rod with a 70/30 split, which they refer to as an offset ferrule.

This split helps give a two piece rod an almost one piece feel and performance but still allows it to be transported inside you car or truck. 

Specialized, weight-saving surf guides with zirconium rings and black frames are accompanied with a Fuji reel seat. A custom “X-Wrap” handle provides comfort, durability and style, all of which are covered by a 5-year manufacturer guarantee.

Because of the light weight SCII graphite, this rod feels surprisingly light for its size and power. When throwing smaller lures or rigs from the beach, it is well-balanced and has a very smooth casting feel. It can readily handle fish weighing 20 to 30 pounds; anything more and it may feel a bit light.


5. Tica Dolphin Surf UGSA

While Tica might not be one of the big brands in the fishing tackle world have have built a well deserved following with anglers in the know.

By word of mouth they have grown from an obscure brand to one of the go to choices for high quality, affordable rods.

They have a solid range targeting striped bass, steelhead, inshore and surf fishing technique specific rods.

The Tica Dolphin UGSA series make a perfect surf fishing rod for beginners especially those that are reluctant to spend big money from some of the more established brands.

These rods, made of high modulus TC3 graphite, can throw hard baits such as topwaters and spoons across great distances. Super low weight and smaller diameter blanks make this a great rod for traversing long lengths of beach without tiring especially when casting all day long.

There is a decent range to choose from and they are available in both one and two piece configurations.


Surf Fishing Rods

Surf fishing rods are designed to cast bait rigs and lures out beyond the breaking surf to where the fish are most likely to be found.

Casting distance is always the number one attribute that gets mentioned when discussing surf rods.

But it is not the most important thing to look at when buying a new rod.

Matching your pole to the types of rigs and the species that you will be targeting is far more important than which rod can cast the longest distance. 

  • Rod Length – Longer rods will generally cast longer distances, shorter rods will have more control and feedback.
  • Rod Action – Fast action rods have a more sensitive tip, moderate action rods have more power through the full length of the rod.
  • Rod Power – Rod power describes the lure/line rating and how big a species you can target with it.

What is the Best Length for a Surf Fishing Rod?

The best surf fishing rod length will be between 8 and 10 feet or more importantly one that matches your setup and the distance that you will be casting, 12 foot for longer distances and 8 foot for closer in work for smaller species.

You don’t need a massive rod if you are casting just beyond a break that is close in to the shore line.

How or where the surf breaks and where the fish are found at the beach that you are fishing at should determine your casting distance.

It’s no use casting out beyond where the fish are holding, this is why local knowledge is so important.

14 ft Surf Rods

Some surf rods are as long as 14 feet, these rods have the potential to cast the furthest distances but only if you know how to cast them and if you match the rest of your surf tackle and terminal rig correctly to them.

In the wrong hands they will be too cumbersome and may well perform worse than a shorter rod.

They will almost always be conventional rods rather than spinning rods as larger conventional reels will perform better with heavier lines when casting greater distances.

12 ft Surf Rods

12ft is considered more than adequate for long distance surf casting and paired with the right reel and line should throw out past 100 yards easily.

The higher the rod the more easily it will be to keep your line up and out of the crashing surf once it is put into its rod rest or sand spike.

8 to 10 ft Surf Rods

If your are buying your first surf rod then something in the 8 to 10 foot range is ideal. Paired with a high quality surf fishing reel such as a 5000 spinning reel and either 30 lbs braid or 20 lb monofilament line you should have a great rod to get acquainted with surf fishing.

Most big brands have several saltwater spinning reels on offer and these reels are purpose built for the harsh salt water environment. Regardless of how well sealed a reel is always rinse it in fresh water after use.

Surf Rod Action

Rod action describes how high up the natural bend in the rod will start to form when pressure is applied to it.

A fast action rod will have the bend start to form in the top one third of the rod blank. This generally means a more sensitive tip and better feedback down through the rod.

A slow or a moderate action will start to bend in the lower or middle part of the rod blank.

Moderate actions rods will be less sensitive. They are often used for casting long distances as you can load up the full length of the rod as you cast giving a much higher speed to you weight as it is thrown forward.

For most anglers a fast action rod will be best as it will give you the more sensitive tip action.

You can still cast well out beyond the break with all but the heaviest of surf rigs.

A faster action will also perform better on shorter cast when the surf is breaking quite close to the shore line.

Surf Rod Power

Rod power describes the weight or lure rating that a rod blank has been designed for, it also details what breaking stain line that will work best on that rod, usually this rating will be in a range from a lower weight to a upper limit.

It is generally a good idea to stay within this range as per the manufacturers recommendations.

A medium to medium/heavy is most likely what will be required.

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