QUICK GUIDE TO READING THE BEACH FOR SURF FISHING BEGINNERS
The hardest part for any beginner surf fisho is learning how to read the beach. If you can’t find the locations where the fish are lurking, it doesn’t matter how good your rod it, or how enticing your lure is, you aren’t going to grab any fish. It is easy to spot features that will give away the location of the fish. You just need to train your eye to find them.
READ THE BEACH EVERY TIME YOU ARRIVE
It is worth spending a few minutes reading the beach every time you arrive. It doesn’t matter if you’ve fished this location hundreds of times before. Beach contours are always changing. The wind, tides and storms all take their toll on the natural landscape of the beach. What might have been a sandbar one day, is now a slough. For this reason, we should make sure we know the layout every time we come down to the beach to fish.
FINDING A SANDBAR
The first feature to look out for is a sandbar. This is a built-up area of sand and its location on the beach will reveal likely fish-hunting locations. If the sandbar is close to the shore, the fish will be hunting behind it and in the shallow water on top of it, taking lures off the surface on top of the sandbar. If the sandbar is further out, they are likely to be in front of it, hunting in holes between the bar and the beach.
You can always identify a sandbar by looking at the waves. The location where the waves break is the location of a sandbar. The sand on the floor causes the lower section of water to slow but the top section of the wave keeps travelling with the same momentum. The result is the top of the wave crashes over the bottom part, creating the break.
Either side of a sandbar, you will find the lower points of the underwater terrain, these are called highways. Predatory fish will sometimes sit in these highways, looking for food.
If you take a closer look at the waves breaking over the sandbar, you might be able to spot a narrow channel where the waves aren’t breaking but coming into the shore as a swell. This is the outflow. The water that comes in will funnel back out to sea through these narrow channels. The intersection of these outflows with the edge of the sandbars are a haven for predatory game fish. They lie in wait for the current to wash smaller fish down through the gutters straight into their path.
LOOKING AT THE SAND
The sand on the beach can also be an indicator of what is going on below the surface. If there is coarse sand with a lot of seashells carried in from the sea, there might be a deeper hole in this area of the beach.
These are some of the beach reading basics that will help you catch more fish. Next time you get down to the beach for some surf fishing, try and spot these locations to increase your catch rate and fish more effectively.
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