Safe Surf Fishing 101

SURF ZONE. This is a column of water from six inches to three to four feet. Most surf species are opportunistic feeders, especially targeting small crustaceans. We wade only in surf up to our knees or to mid-thigh. The surf zone includes tide pools, but in most circumstances, you will not have to wade the pools in order to catch fish.

EQUIPMENT. Use from a six- to nine-weight fly rod. Most surf species are small. A rod with muscle in the butt section will handle an occasional larger fish. Casts are normally fifty to sixty feet. Beyond that distance, you are wasting energy. Most catching is done as the lure is tumbling six to twelve inches from the bottom. Lines can be floating, sink-tip, full-sink and shooting-heads with these lines. A sink-tip works well in the surf. If you will be throwing the line into a hole, where there is a deeper bottom, a sink-tip or full-sinking line may be best.

Leaders are minimal in the surf. The fish are NOT leader shy. You can use a short, heavy butt section with a two-foot tippet, total length about five feet. Otherwise, use a two- or three-foot tippet on the end of your line. Waders are a must, unless you wish to wear a wet suit while fishing. Boot-foot waders seem to work best because they keep the sand out. If you have only stocking-foot waders, protect the foot from sand abrasion with a plastic bag as you put it in the boot. Wear a raincoat over the top of the waders. If there are breathing holes and flaps, duct tape them closed to keep the water OUT. Put a towel around your neck under the raincoat to stop drips. Duct tape the arm closures closed. Bring a change of clothing.

FLIES. "Crazy Charlies", bright colors, weighted heavily, size 6 to 2; Pacific mole crab imitations, size 6 to 0/2; small, red, crappie tube jigs; "Surf Percher", red or orange, sizes 8 to 4; Hanley's "Crab Creature", size 2 to 0/2. These work well on our coasts.

WHEN. Anytime you can get to the beach. Fish are more wary during daylight. Dusk or dawn is a prime feeding time, try then. A low tide combined with low light conditions may be best. Try fishing the incoming tide from dawn for about three to four hours.

READING THE WATER. Come to the fishout for a longer explanation. We look for holes in the bottom of the beach. These funnel food and fish will be there. We also cast from shallower to deeper water.

THE FISHOUT. Saturday, March 30th. From 5:30AM to about 10AM, location to be determined. Sign up at club meetings and workshops. Contact Doug Weber at (408) 736-1949 evenings.

FISHING PROGNOSIS. Fishing in the surf in 2002 looks to be a great year! Most of the best opportunities for low tide with low light are on the weekends!! Jot down these dates and start your planning now to enjoy some good surf fishing. Consider that you will fish the rising tide for four hours at most. These early morning occassions are a simple way to fish spending no more than half a day.

    Moss Landing Santa Cruz Half Moon Bay
Date Day Dawn Sunrise Low Tide Ht Low Tide Ht Low Tide Ht
Mar 01 Friday 5:45AM 6:41AM 5:28AM 0.2 5:23AM 0.3 5:32AM 0.6
Mar 02 Saturday 5:43AM 6:40AM 6:24AM -0.1 6.19AM 0.0 6:28AM 0.3
Mar 16 Saturday 5:23AM 6:19AM 5:30AM 0.5 5:25AM 0.6 5:34AM 0.9
Mar 30 Saturday 5:01AM 5:58AM 5:13AM -1.0 5:08AM -0.9 5.17AM -0.6
Apr 13 Saturday 5:38AM 6:38AM 5:34AM -0.3 5:29AM -0.2 5:38AM 0.1
Apr 27 Saturday 5.17AM 6:19AM 5:10AM -1.7 5:05AM -1.6 5:14AM -1.3
May 11 Saturday 4:59AM 6:04AM 4:40AM -0.8 4:35AM -0.7 4:44AM -0.4
May 25 Saturday 4:45AM 5:53AM 4:12AM -1.8 4:07AM -1.7 4:16AM -1.4
Jun 10 Monday 4:37AM 5:47AM 4:51AM -1.6 4:46AM -1.5 4:55AM -1.2
Jun 24 Monday 4:38AM 5:49AM 4:46AM -2.1 4:41AM -2 4:50AM -1.7
Jun 25 Tuesday 4:39AM 5:49AM 5:29AM -2.1 5:24AM 2.0 5:33AM -1.7

Doug Weber