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Surf fishing 101

Why not try your hand at surf fishing this spring?

by Ken Bergmann

With spring right around the corner and over 180 miles of coastline in South Carolina, why not spend some time at the beach and learn how to surf fish? Surf fishing is a very easy way to fish and won’t break the bank.

The basic equipment you’ll need is a nine to eleven foot surf rod, a sturdy reel, some basic tackle, a sand spike to hold your rod, some bait and a chair. Walking the beach at low tide will allow you to see the terrain and the structure where fish will be hiding during high tide. Looking for things like troughs, sandbars, rock piles or small jetties as these are all places that bait fish will use for cover and predatory fish like redfish, trout, sharks, whiting, croaker and flounder will be hunting. Spending a little time finding these spots will give you a much better chance of catching fish than just arriving blind.

Most people think you need to throw your bait out as far as you can, when in reality a short cast – 20’ to 30’ from the edge of the water- may be all you need to cast. Setting up a basic fish finder rig is the easiest and most common way to surf fish. Take your main line and add a plastic sleeve with a clip for your weight. This allows you to easily change the weight of your sinker and adjust to the current. Then tie on a snap swivel and add a hook with a one to two foot leader and you’re in business. Depending on the size fish you are targeting, this can be a small circular hook like a size 1 or 2 – perfect for whiting and smaller redfish – all the way up to a heavy wire leader and a 4/0 hook for sharks and larger redfish.

Your bait choice should be what is swimming or crawling around where you are fishing. Crabs, shrimp and mullet are a good bet for Charleston beaches. Shrimp is probably your most versatile bait as everything with lips eat shrimp. A strip of squid threaded on a hook is good flounder bait, and mud minnows are always a hit.

For the more active fishermen and women, throwing a plug of a hard lure can also be a lot of fun. Using a plug like the Bomber Badonk-a-Donk is an easy lure to fish. Throw it out and as you reel it back in, give it sharp twitches and pauses to simulate a wounded bait fish. Do it right and you’ll be rewarded with an epic blow up and a fish on the line.

Ken Bergmann is a sales associate at The Charleston Angler’s location in Summerville. Charleston Angler has everything you need to surf fish and the knowledge to put you on fish. For more information, call 871-9362 or visit

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