Hi everyone long time lurker here figured may as well contribute in some way since we're in a lull at the moment. Just wanted to talk a little about last year specifically the fall since it was the first fall i really fished from surf on open beach. Just for background I have been fishing my whole life from boat and from the surf on and off from around 2010. I am 32 years old now. Most of my efforts were more of the back bay variety with light tackle for whatever, trash fish would keep my interest but this fall I got the itch again after sitting out most of the season because of a newborn and went out basically every sunday morning (my only free time!) from October through December focusing solely on open beach. I wanted to share a few observations and things I learned that can hopefully help newer fisherman. First off i finally caught my first bass from surf this year, took a while but I am hooked (although all fish were under slot limit it didn't matter to me as catch and release only) along with some shad. Every single fish i caught was either on a bucktail (3/4 or 1oz) or a 007 diamond jig, caught 1 fish on an SP minnow. One trip i went out the conditions were calm and I wanted to catch a fish on a minnow type lure for the first time so I used the smaller SP minnow in blurple for a bit and connected on a 26" bass in the daytime, was exhilarating and went according to plan. All in all i caught maybe 20 stripers total of the course of maybe 10 trips or so, the most I had was on my final trip December 12th I landed 8 bass. As on FYI I only fished early light through morning, didn't have the night pass this year. Needless to say I am now hooked, spring 2021 cannot arrive soon enough. Also want to clarify I am in no way a novice fisherman, although I have a ton to learn from the beach, the learning experience is so rewarding.
These are the main pointers I took away from the fall:
- casting distance is way overrated most of the time, almost all hookups were semi-close to shore
- learn a specific spot by routinely going there, especially if it is close to home, I basically hit the same area all fall and learned a ton, all within 20 mins from my house. The convenience will motivate me to go more often next season even if may not be the most productive spot on the island
- just getting out there and experiencing different conditions/tides makes it so much easier to make decisions for future trips, everything is a reference point
- keep it basic with lures, bucktails and tins work most of the time, so many lures that are talked about only work in unique circumstances. If you are new to surf fishing just fish bucktails and diamond jigs religiously, that is just my opinion of course
- the Tsunami airwave elite 9'6 is the coolest rod I've ever fished, just a blast to use
- keep a pair of pliers! regretfully I gut hooked and killed trying to de-hook an "18 bass that inhaled a diamond jig on my final trip and felt like crap, felt a little better when I saw the carcass wash up an hour later at my feet because a seal in front of me took care of it. Circle of life or whatever. 2021 season I will never be without a pair of pliers, lesson learned. I respect the fishery too much
- the bucktail is a lethal lure, almost all land caught fish I've caught over the last decade were on bucktails (mostly blues/fluke/robins until this year)
- most of the fish I caught were on outgoing water a few hours after the high tide time
- white water was a game changer, sometimes would be fishing for hours and whatever the conditions happened to be if some fishy looking white water developed close to shore you better believe I caught a bass throwing a small bucktail right into it
- fishing away from the crowds is extremely satisfying, majority of fisherman stuck to around the entrances to beach out of I suppose laziness, I would walk completely away to start and often caught fish while nobody else was hooking up (just schoolies so not bragging but felt good to be hundreds of yards away from people catching fish)
- I enjoyed packing light, went from a small surf bag to just a TA pouch. Only brought bucktails 3/4 - 1.5 oz, some diamond jigs with tubes or bucktail hooks and 1 SP minnow. Feel that covers mostly any situation on the days I picked. Just a tactical anglers pouch, a leader wallet and I was fine (although pliers will be added now!)
- I learned a ton just using the search feature on this site, so much knowledge on here that prepared me. Would be out on water and specifically recall certain topics and discussions that I read about
If anything else crossed my mind I will add later, everybody take care and interested to hear your thoughts!
P.S. almost forgot funny story literally the first Striper I ever caught from beach was this fall in early October, maybe a 26" or so schoolie, never been so happy in my life. Releasing it cut the hell out of my thumb, not even sure if it was the braid or a fin but i was gushing blood the rest of trip, thank god i had band aids. Took weeks to heal and I didn't even care, something to remember forever! Pic below is that first fish! Also my only non bucktail/tin fish! (inline hook believer)