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Casting Bait off the Beach

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Only fished the surf with bait a handful of times so really lack knowledge in this area.   Always thought as long as you got out past the waves so your rig isn't washing back in and you’re holding bottom you should be good to go.   However even with calm surf, favorable tide/wave/sweep conditions and with fish being caught in close by guys casting artificials, I typically see the bait guys throwing for the horizon with most every cast; what am I missing here?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

With good bait distance may be less important. But don’t we all cast for the heavens :)

Edited by cheech

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I wonder about the OP's question, too. I only fish bait in rough surf a few times per year. Last 3 yrs, I had access or was staying in a cottage on the beach. I waited until hi tide, when the waves broke close, I knew there was a trough along the lip of beach, and I could get just behind the waves, with only 1, 2 or 3 oz to hold a worm down.

 

The worms would get attacked almost immediately. If I was behind the waves, I could feel it, and tighten up my circle hook....small fish after small fish. If I was in the white water, I couldn't feel the fish, couldn't tell if the waves were moving the bait (or a fish was moving it) and felt like my sinker never gripped bottom. I also couldn't keep most of my line above the waves.

 

I tried more weight, different bait (mackerel and squid). Although I caught some fish in the wash, the whole endeavor seemed easier/more productive when I cast beyond the breakers. The biggest fish I ever caught with bait in rough surf was 38", I waded in with a wet suit and just flung worms parallel to where I waded, in the breakers. But sometimes, like when I've got my kid with me on the beach, I don't wanna wet suit or wade..I just wanna hold a 11' rod and wait for a fish to tell me it's hooked.

 

Is the whitewater much more productive than beyond the breakers?

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I like to get it out there as far as I can. Allows me to soak for a few then creep my bait in. Soak for a few then creep it in. Repeat till it's in and check bait. Can stay put or move. Getting out there can either hit them out deep or drag it in front of there faces if there hugging the shallows. Luckily I'm not fighting crowds where I fish

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You're better off throwing too deep and reeling in if conditions dictate than throwing too shallow, because you can't reel out.  

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There are fish in the drop off and some are good size.   Some in the waves also.   If you want some good info about the surf, check out the thread on this site 

Reading the Water part1 and 2  by Poppy. Aka Rumble Fish. 

you will get a very good idea of where the fish are. 

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When bait fishing for stripers I usually fish 2 spiked rods, 1 lobbed just over the breakers and 1 out farther.  A few years ago I had a bad overrun and clam bait landed in breakers. When I pulled out the birds nest and connected with my rig the rod was almost pulled out hands.  Nice 20 pounder.  After that I started fishing closer.  Also during black drum run they are often in very close.   For that reason I often fish clam in close and chuck a bunker chunk farther.  Bunker chunk also stays on hook better than clam if casting for distance.  

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More time the fish will be close at night big ones will move in depending on conditions. But sometimes conditions dictate getting it past the bar. These are things you need to figure out. No spikes hold your rod and don’t be afraid to move. Most guys that bait fish give true bait fishermen a bad name. Bait and wait is terrible and luck most of the time. I bait fish. 

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Interesting responses all around guys, much apprecited.   CCB  I remember reading Rumble Fish's posts many years ago and agree there was some real good info there.   Really just wonder when and if conditions are favorable and fish are being caught close to shore unless you're specifically shootng for a trough or something why bother throwing your bait out as far as you can.  Next time I see someone doing that, will make a point to chat with the guy and see what they have to say.  

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Posted (edited) · Report post

When I am with family.  I put in one bait and have another rod handy for lures.  When not throwing lures, I switch to a 12" leader on a circle hook connected to a 2 3 way swivel with a weight on it.  With those tactical angler clips, I go from lure to bait in a second.

 

A few tips.

 

- I use that elastic string to keep loose bait on, like clams.

-Use fresh as much as you can.  Bring something to catch baitfish, like a sabiki rig and use a striped bass spoon as a casting weight.  The lure attracts other baitfish, and you might catch a bigger fish too.  I use frozen, but only IF the bait shop is closed.  I travel from Albany NY area to fish the surf, so every minute counts for me down there.

-If legal to do so, get a cast net.  You get fresh bait, and the right bait too.  Be mindful of what washes on shore.

 

A few new ones I am going to try.

 

-Instead of chunks, I am going to use strips.  Like fillets with the skin on.  Some folks have even used this for trailers on bucktails.

-Buy some heavy jigs like 3 or 4oz.  Throw your frist rod out far, but your second close one, get some intel.  Cast out that jigs and bring it in slowly.  Find those low spots in the surf.  You can use a AVA jig, maybe a striper will think it's a sandeel and you get lucky.

 

  Heck sometimes the surf has a long soapy wash area with little activity infront of a breaker.  Sometimes those spots real close produces on high tide.  

 

Bait fishermen on the surf just pick a spot and hope to get lucky.

 

Read this thread.   

 

 

Reading books can help tons too.   I've been reading about lure fishing more, so I can't help a ton.   There are regional book, like fishing NJ for example that can help tune in a bit better for you.

 

I have found more info online about surfcasting with bait for redfish.  What they have learned can apply to stripers.

 

In my opinion, If there's schools of baitfish around, use lures.  When the surf looks like chocolate milk, or there's no bait around go for bait.   However, if using clams make sure you near a clam bed.

 

I tihnk early season has great promise for bait fishing in backbay spots on a rising tide on a sunny day.  IT's the warmest water around and the rising tide makes the bass look for fresh things in the muck.  Make sure your more in mud than sand.   Sand does not have the capacity to provide and keep small aquatic life like mud or rocky areas do.  Basically, when the hunters are acting like scavengers, fish them like scavengers.  Bull redfish are scavengers.

Edited by salt deficient

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I fish mostly flat beaches,,,,,,,the farther you can throw the better your chances of being in productive water.

plus i just like catching fish way out as opposed to at your feet

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With the 50 year ACoE beach replenishment Boon Doggle here in Post-Sandy Ocean County, the only possibility for fish of size is to fish the drop off that is now 200 some odd feet out.  Even in IBSP, where there will be no replenishment, the currents are sweeping the dredged sand south to the point where the North Barnegat Jetty pocket is now basically non-existent.  Sure, there are small bass in the wash, but you must get out past the first breaker for any hope of a fish over 28 inches.  For those of us no longer physically able to take the outer bar environment, the only answer is long-cast equipment and learning/practicing on-the beach distance casting utilizing non-strength based techniques for locking out the rod.  This also means either long-cast bait rigging or delivering large teasers (such as Flatwings) using heavy, aerodynamic metals rigged on a long leader (for me, 4.5 feet below the teaser).  

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On 2/8/2019 at 6:55 PM, ccb said:

There are fish in the drop off and some are good size.   Some in the waves also.   If you want some good info about the surf, check out the thread on this site 

Reading the Water part1 and 2  by Poppy. Aka Rumble Fish. 

you will get a very good idea of where the fish are. 

Any idea where i can find this? I tried the search option but it didn't come up

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5 hours ago, fishing addict said:

Any idea where i can find this? I tried the search option but it didn't come up

 

Fishing Addict, here are links to the articles by Rumble Fish mentioned above, they are really good reads.

 

http://www.stripersonline.com/forum/thread/417339/reading-the-water

 

http://www.stripersonline.com/forum/thread/537410/reading-the-water-again

 

 

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When bait fishing, it helps to know the contour of the bottom. Sometimes breakers indicate a depth change, and that attracts fish. In Maine there is a huge difference in tides. At low tides I would walk the beach and make mental notes of pockets, channels, points...When high tide came I would aim for those spots with better success. Try different weights to hold the sand.

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