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I sent this as a PM to someone else but decided to post it here because I think it is invaluable info for anyone spending a week at the beach that want to surf fish but dont really know how, I know I would have liked to have known when I first started fishing the surf:





OK here ya go. These are things I learned over the years of doing this. I used to guide on Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor in Florida in the back waters but surf fishing has always been my passion. Something about being able to successfully fish in that type of environment that turns my crank. Anyway here is my 2 cents



1. Rigs: I see most people using a 2 hook dropper rig in the surf. A lot do well with it but I do nto like it. I prefer a fish finder rig, I feel the fish finder rig holds better in the current and I have a very good success rate with it. It consists of a 1 or 2 oz pyramid weight on a slider on your main line above a barrel swivel. I use 10-12lb mono with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader with a #4 gold aberdeen hook. This is on a high capacity reel on a medium 8' rod. I think line capacity is superior to heavy line as most fish in the surf in the area are Pompano, whiting, flounder, trout, and flounder with an occasional spanish mackeral or bluefish. I get way more bites on lighter line and with proper drag use you will have no problem landing a fish on light line since there are no snags or anything to break off on. In the clear water as light of line as possible is key.



2. Bait: I will never buy bait at the beach. All they have are shrimp that will fall off 2 minutes after hitting the water and squid that the fish in the surf laugh at. The ticket for bait is to fish with what you catch in the surf. Sandfleas, small crabs, small fish are all there and plentiful not to mention thats what they are naturally feeding on. Even with a small net from a beach store I caught a bucket full of sand fleas, baby pompano and whiting, and several silver dollar sized crabs each day. The cast net never left the truck.



3. Where to fish: There is one HUGE misconception with regards to surf fishing. That is the idea that one has to be able to cast out super far to catch fish. This is the opposite of the truth. Most of the fish I catch are within the area where the waves are breaking. When you hear someone say to fish "in the suds" this is what they are talking about. Almost always for me low tide is the best as well as early in the morning and late in the evening when swimmers are at a minimum. The current will wach your bait either right or left. just let it bounce and when it gets too close to the beach toss it out again.



If you have the bait and are in the right spot you will catch fish there. All the guys I helped did and couldnt believe the difference.
 

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Live sandfleas are a must. If you have kids they love finding them while you fish. The way I like to fish them is on a carolina rig bouncing them in which ever direction the current will take your bait in the trough. Got to be careful though, the sandfleads will dig back into the sand. I also like to use fresh peeled shrimp usually the best from a shrimp man off the side of the road, not from the bait store.



We catch pompino and whiting which are both good to eat on the single and double rigs. I still yet havent caught a pompino on a jig usually ladyfish, which are fun but not good to eat...use for shark bait.



If there is real bad rip tide and a 3-4 oz wont even hold I like to go to an inlet or bay side and fish, Most of the time im using gulp shrim on a quarter oz red jig head fishing it like a worm or jig here at home. You'll catch a lot of flounder and red's on the gulp. Trout is also a fun fish to catch they jump like a ladyfish and taste good also. We use top dog jr's white with a red head or a popping cork with shrimp.



Just beware if your new to surf fishing be vary careful to and use pliers when handling those darn catfish. Those things hurt badly.
 

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Them sand fleas are a must I believe so much so I bought one of them "SAND FLEA" rakes. I've also had luck on shrimp. The squid I dont know about didn't catch anything off of em. We always use the pompano rigs which I believe is the same thing these guys are talking about double hook rigs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Killers in all the years of fishing I have never caught a catfish in South Carolina, but in the gulf you cannot keep them off your hook.
 

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Isnt that the truth! We used to stay at Edisto Island SC and Topsail NC never any catfish....Lots of black drum, flounder, whiting and blues. The past few years we have stayed at Okaloosa Island which catfish are abundant. I hate em!!



If you ever go towards Destin area catch you some pin fish and try for those big Bull Reds. My brother in law has caught a few in the 20-30+ range and man they will rip out some line.
 

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Killers I lived in Tarpon Springs and guided part time in the backwaters. Snook was my specialty have several over 50" to my name. Bull reds are great, funny you said Okaloosa Island one of my first big reds ever came from there before I even knoew my butt from a hole in the ground. I was young and dont have any measurements but it was easily over 40lbs. Catfish in the Gulf come in two species, the hardhead and the topsail. The hardhead has slime that is chemically equivalent to that in a stingray barb. The only time I fainted in my entire life was due to a hardhead. We were fishing the Courtney Campbell Causeway from the jettys and I had one about 8" long. When I went to pry the hook out it wiggled loose and impaled its pectoral fin all the way to its body in the webbing between my thumb and index finger. When I pulled it out the pain was so bad I literally dropped in my tracks almost giving my wife a heart attack. We went home and I put ice on it, which I shortly learned is the opposite of what it needs. Hot water! I was swollen to the point of not being able to get my watch off my wrist and after 20 minutes under hot water the swelling was all but gone as was the pain. Just FYI in case it ever happens, water over 104 degrees is the super fast remedy.
 

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Feel your pain! About 6 years ago at Cap San Blas I was stuck by one in the finger while surf fishing at night. By the time I got in the house the pain hit and it hurt bad. By bro in law didnt believe how bad it hurt until he got stuck the next day. We to also figured out that hot water was the best for the swelling and pain.
 
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