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My Best Tips For Choosing The Right Surf Fishing Bait

Surf Fishing Bait

Choosing the best surf fishing bait is a somewhat of an art and a science. It’s a good idea to have more than one type with you just in case you didn’t choose the right one.

The picture above shows my good friend Larry getting bait with a cast net for a fishing trip we were planning.

Match Your Bait To The Currently Available Bait In The Surf

This almost sounds like common sense but you have to look at it a little differently. The most common bait in the surf isn’t always common. That’s important to realize. Predator surf fish are opportunists they will feed on whatever is available. They’re not always feeding on their preferred source.

Available food sources will vary for lots of different reasons. It can be affected by the time of year, the weather and other factors. Knowing what these factors are is important but it’s more important to be able to learn what the currently available bait in the surf is at that particular time.

Surf Fish Are Feeding On What’s Available

In the previous paragraph I stated that food sources for predator surf fish can vary for different reasons. A successful surf angler will develop an understanding of the factors that influence the available food sources. This will come with experience and a foundation of knowledge. After awhile it becomes instinctive.

Here’s a tip you can use. Commonly available bait in the surf will also be readily available for the suppliers who provide bait to the bait shops. If you go into the bait shop to buy bait, some of the bait will be more scarce than others. Chat with the attendant for a minute and learn what bait has been coming in most readily. If they have been having a hard time getting a particular bait, you probably don’t want to be using that anyway. It may be a very good choice but not at that particular time. Select your bait from one or two of the readily available sources with good size and quality.

Get To Know The Bait Preferences For Different Surf Fish Species

By now if you have been learning about surf fishing you should have learned how to determine what species are currently being caught in the surf. You should also have learned something about the bait preferences for those fish.

The preferred bait may not always your best choice. That being said, keep in mind what I wrote in the previous paragraphs before choosing your bait. Select one or two of the readily available baits that meet the guidelines mentioned above and is popular with the species you will be fishing for. You won’t be wasting your time with a choice of bait that isn’t going to be effective that day.

Learn What Surf Fish Are Actively Feeding On In The Surf

Using the right bait at the right time will improve your catch rate significantly. It does change and vary. As I mentioned above all predator fish are opportunists. Predator fish will take what’s available depending on how hungry they are and how easy it is to obtain. As the availability of food sources change their feeding habits change with it. The more you can improve your ability to learn what the fish are actively feeding on the better your catch rate will be.

My best tip is to get friendly with the other fisherman at the beach. Most will be happy to tell you what they’re using and what’s been working. A little friendly conversation can go along way. Believe it when I say, you’ll pick up all kinds of good tips. Talking to other anglers at the beach is one of the best ways to advance your surf fishing skills.

If All Else Fails Use Shrimp

After addressing how to choose the best surf fishing bait in the above paragraphs. If you are just getting into surf fishing or you are clueless about applying my tips for choosing surf bait, as a last resort use shrimp. These are my reasons.

  • Shrimp is very effective for attracting many different kinds of surf fish.
  • Shrimp is often readily available.
  • You will almost certainly catch something when fishing with shrimp.
  • It’s the first place to start when you are learning to surf fish.

Apply the knowledge you acquired in this article to improve the pleasure you will find fishing in the surf. For me, surf fishing is the kind of fishing I enjoy the most. In my opinion there is so much more excitement involved in surf fishing than in any other kind of fishing you will ever do.

8 Responses to My Best Tips For Choosing The Right Surf Fishing Bait

  • thank you for the great articles, i do my surf fishing on the west coast of mexico, as i am 1000 miles away from the nearest coast at home in canada,perhaps you have some info on mexican surf fishing, though i am sure the basics you teach would apply, many thanks george campbell

    • Yes George, the basics still apply but I can’t stress enough how much more you can learn if you get friendly with the locals.

  • Hi Randy. I’am in New Zealand the fishing is good here I have used some of your advice while fishing and it worked, thanks for the tips.Whats your advice on long distance casting.Regards Richard.

    • Richard how far can you cast now? I will need additional info about your setup to give you some tips.


        • Richard, 150 meters (164 yards) is very respectable. You’re already using one of the most powerful casting methods. With the distance you’re casting there isn’t much I can add to what you already know. If you need to get out any further I would consider kayaking your baits out.

  • Thanks Randy for the tips on bait. I usuallly use shrimp on the ocean
    coast in Florida. After reading these tips I will check with follow
    fisherman to see what other options I have.

  • I like your tip about choosing the bait that is currently available in the surf. It makes sense that the fish would be more attracted to something they are already eating and familiar with. My husband needs surf fishing bait for his trip that’s coming up, so I will show him this article to see if it helps him out. Thanks for posting!