Surf fishing is fantastic.
With its easy access, fishermen all over the world have turned to surf fishing. It offers a great alternative to regular fishing in terms of cost as well.
Next to that, standing on a sandy beach on the shoreline and casting your lure into the water can be quite the beautiful fishing experience. When you take all these aspects into account, it is no wonder why surf fishing is an ever-growing sport.
But like any other type of fishing or sport, there are several things and specifics you need to keep in mind when it comes to surf fishing. One of the most important aspects of the process is selecting and finding the bait. Along with this, you need to find the best time to go surf fishing for the species you want to catch.
This may seem simple, but it is important and can ultimately dictate your fishing experience. People frequently ask if they need to use live baits or dead baits.
Experts stress the importance of matching the local fish diet to what you are using as bait. Others choose to find their bait and local tackle shops because of the guaranteed knowledge of the employees that work there. Some surf fishing bait works fine throughout the season while others become unavailable.
Below, we have decided to look into the best baits for surf fishing. You will find a list of baits that you can use along with how to rig them and get them ready for your fishing experience.
Shrimp – Very Easy & Abundant Surf Fishing Bait
Where else to start when it comes to surf fishing than with shrimp?
Anyone can tell you that shrimp is one of a surf fisherman’s favorite bait to use. They are very popular in surf fishing because mostly all species of fish eat shrimp. So you do not have to worry about not attracting the certain type of fish you want by using this specific bait. You can use either dead shrimp or live shrimp.
Just keep in mind that they both have to be rigged differently.
If you choose dead shrimp in the end, you can choose the ones from the supermarket. Your local bait shop will usually have live shrimp.
Rigging the shrimp is a delicate issue. You need to hook the shrimp in the proper place to allow the shrimp to stay alive as long as possible.
There are usually two places to hook a shrimp to keep it alive for a longer period. You can choose either the front of the tail, depending on what is easier for you.
If you choose to rig the shrimp in the front, you will have to avoid the brain or the shrimp will die instantly. The shrimp’s brain is located behind the eyes on the meaty dark spot. Carefully put the hook between the brain and the eyes. You can do this by putting the hook through the side of the shrimp near the top of the body, underneath the horn. Firmly but slowly push your hook through to the opposite side so the barb does not make extra damage. When pushing the hook through the tail, make sure it goes through the last section. Push the hook firmly in one side from the opposite side through the center of the last tail section. When swimming away from predators, shrimp swim away tail first. This will make rigging the shrimp in this manner extra effective.
Many people choose prawns instead of shrimp for surf fishing bait.
Rigging prawns gives you three different options. The first two have to do with rigging the prawn the same way you could have rigged the shrimp. So, you can choose to either rig the prawn between its eyes and brain or you can choose to rig it at the tail. Some people choose to remove the head and brain from the prawn and run the hook through the meat. This is also a way of rigging the prawn if you do not mind it dying instantly.
Clams – Great Surf Fishing Bait to Attract Fish
Clams are another type of bait that is very popular among surf fishermen.
Rigging clams are generally an easy task. The first step of using clams for bait is removing them from their shells. To open up your clam for bait, you will need to carefully cut two muscles. Do this by sliding a sharp knife on either each side of the clam. Take care not to cut the body of the clam.
After cutting these muscles, you should have no problem opening it up. Ideally, you will use the whole insides as bait. This includes two membranes, the body of the clam and the stomach. Make sure that you include the stomach of the clam as part of your bait. This is because the stomach has a strong smell that attracts the fish you want to catch.
To cut the bait as clean as possible, slide your knife between the top membrane and the shell before scraping the membrane away. You will need to repeat this for the bottom membrane as well. At the center, you should find a small muscle still attached to the shell. Cut this away and you should have the whole clam ready for rigging.
You should rig the clam by sliding the muscle over the hook, twisting it and sliding it over the hook again. Repeat this process until the whole clam along with its entrails is wrapped tightly around the hook. People tend to use a clam line or thin stretchy cotton to wrap around the clam. This will keep the clam secure on the hook. Make sure not to use too much clam line as you do not want the fish to taste or feel it.
Crabs – A Common and Inexpensive Surf Fishing Bait
Crabs are another bait choice many shore fishermen will go for. This is because they are fairly common and inexpensive.
When it comes to type, mole crabs, sand crabs, pass crabs, and blue crabs should all work just fine.
Opting for crabs as surf fishing baits gives you the choice of either finding them if you don’t want to waste any money, or buying them from a local bait shop. A good number of surf fishermen look for mole crabs on the shoreline. They usually turn up around the tide where the sea meets the sand.
Use a rake and a bucket to catch and collect your crabs. You can do this by placing your bucket in the sand and watch as the backwash fills it up. With some luck, you should be able to catch a significant number of crabs in this way.
After gathering crabs, the next step is rigging them up.
The best place to rig a crab is at the location of its eggs. Most fish will go for the crab’s egg section before anything else. This is why it is important to put your hook there. You can usually find the eggs at the back of the crab on its underside. Usually, they are orange in color. Put your hook through the underside of this area on to the opposite side of the eggs. Once you have gotten through the shell, you should twist it bringing it back through the crab. Make sure you do not puncture the egg sack. Your hook should ideally wind up right next to it. This will make it ultimately more attractive for a fish bite.
Bait Fish – My Favorite Surf Fishing Bait
Bait Fish tend to be the easiest type of bait to find and rig.
This bait choice offers you much variety. The possibilities here are almost endless. You can choose to use them as whole, dead bait, cut bait or even live bait. Whatever suits your needs and your specific style of fishing is just fine.
However, you should usually go for smaller species of fish. Species such as Mullet, sardines, Menhaden, bluefish or mackerel are great examples. Also, keep in mind that using already dead frozen fish is much less effective than using fresh dead fish or any live bait.
Like using any other live bait, it is necessary to rig the fish properly to keep it alive as long as possible. Begin by hooking the fish in the back between the tail and dorsal fin at the top of the fish. Take care not push the hook too deep inside the fish as it will end up dying faster and you will not be able to get a good hook.
Rigging a dead fish is another story. Do this by hooking the bottom of the lips and moving it up into the top. Make sure the hook is shallow as well. If you place it in too deep, the hook will get suck in the bait instead of in the fish that you are trying to catch.
There is also the option of chunk bait.
If this is your goal, you first need to slice up your bait. You should cut your first chunk right behind the gills and remove the head. You have some room when it comes to the size of the next few chunks. An inch or two is a great rule of thumb for the next chunks you choose.
If you are looking to catch a big fish, the head is the best bait. However, this will not attract smaller fish. If you ultimately choose to rig the head, push the hook through the lips from the bottom to the top. As mentioned earlier, you want your hook to be shallow. This will guarantee a better hook set when catching your fish. After choosing the size of chunks, slide the hook through the top part from side to side, twist the hook and then come back through it.
Squid – One Smelly Attraction
Everyone knows that squid gets smelly, FAST.
However, this is exactly what makes it great bait for surf fishing. It is a great bait you are sure to attract fish with. Surf fishers all over the world use squid. Like other baits on this list, it is easy to buy from any shop or supermarket.
You can use them either fresh or frozen, however fresh usually works better as in the case with any bait. Remember to clean out your bait box after fishing with squid. The smell can get pretty strong. While a strong smell is great for catching fish, it does not help keep your tackle box clean.
You should thread the line through the whole squid from the head down to the bottom. You can do this by piercing the top with the hook, twisting it and coming back through the squid. After this, slowly pull the line through. Repeat this process until your hook is close to the eyes of the squid. Finish this off by putting the hook through the eyes from one side to the other. This will ultimately help you as the eyes are full of ink and the smell will help you attract fish. Also, take some elasticated cotton and bind the squid from the shank of the hook back up to the top of the squid. This will help the bait not fall off during the casting.
Using chunks instead is an easier way. You simply cut the squid into inch wide chunks keeping the head. Be sure to remove the cartilage from the inside. The cartilage of the squid looks like plastic and it is hard to get a hook through. This is why you should discard it. Use your hook to go from one side of the other, twist the hook and go back into the side you began at.
A Few Last Words…
All the baits we have mentioned are fairly common so you should have no problem finding them. Ultimately, they are the baits that work best for surf fishing and you are sure to have a memorable experience when using them. When having the right bait, and rigging it properly, you should have no problem fishing and catching the type of fish you set out to get. We wish you luck with catching the fish of your choice with the proper selection of bait.