When To Go Surf Fishing


During my working life, I didn’t give much consideration to the “when” aspect of fishing. When should I go surf fishing, The answer was always “whenever I can squeeze it in”. Easing into retired life hasn’t always been easy but one luxury I am enjoying is the ability to choose when I go fishing.

I am no longer constrained by the rigours of working life. I choose the best times to surf fish that will deliver success. These are my observations and thoughts.


In general, the best times to fish the surf are at sunset and sunrise. The golden rule is the two hours before the sun comes up and the two hours after the sun has set. The fish come in close to feed while the sun is down and the prey is plentiful. This is a broad rule but to get to grips with the nuances, we need to consider the tides.


The best times to fish are at around high tide. If the tide is high at eight o’clock in the morning, get to the beach before sunrise and start fishing early, at around 6am. You should have favourable conditions until around 11am.

Fish either high or low tide, depending on the species. The best days I have had are when high tide occurs around sunrise or just after. The two hours before high tide and two hours after usually provide good conditions for most species to fish.


For some unexplained reason, fish like to feed on days with low barometric pressure. This means rainy days, days before a storm and cloudy days are great fish-catching days. Salmon and Tailor seem to love overcast days. They may not be the most pleasant conditions but they should be the most successful.

Predatory fish like Mulloway prey on smaller fish that storms flush out of rivers. Fish near river entrances before a storm to find some predators already waiting.

You can still catch fish on days with a higher barometric pressure but it often depends on other factors. For example, after a storm has moved on and the pressure rises, you should find species like Bream and Whiting. They will be watching the gullies for anything the storm has displaced.


Strong winds often push the fish closer to the shore, which is handy, because good luck trying to cast in a strong wind. When there is choppy water and a lot of wind there are often a lot of surface species hunting, so shoot for Salmon, Tailor and Bream rather than Whiting.


If you like night fishing, try your luck during high tide during a full moon. This seems to send Salmon into a frenzy. I have never met anyone who can explain why. It is just one of the odd behaviour traits of fish.

If you have the luxury to choose, like me, then make the most of these fish-biting times. If not, all I can say is fish whenever you can. No matter how poor the conditions are, you can strike lucky at any time and I certainly wouldn’t let it put me off.


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John Steele
John Steele

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.