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How Far Do You Need To Cast For Big Surf Fish

Surf Casting

Surf casting distance is important but is it necessary to catch big fish from the surf? It’s quite common to think “bigger fish”… deeper water. Even myself as a youngster growing up, I was under the impression that the best fish would be in the deepest water. So it was my goal at the time to cast as far as I could.

Even now, in my 60’s, I still try to cast as far as possible. I’m not really sure why because I know better. I guess old habits just die hard.

Big Fish Aren’t Always In Deep Water

Not everyone who loves the sport of surf fishing has the ability to cast 60, 70 or 100 yards. Maybe they have an injury or just lack the skill. Whatever the reason is, I’m here to say it doesn’t necessarily matter.

Your casting distance should never be the reason you are not catching big fish. It should also never be the reason you are not catching a lot of fish.

If you’re not catching fish it’s easy to blame it on casting distance. There might be situations where there aren’t any fish within casting distance but it’s highly unlikely.

Yes there are plenty of littler fish close to shore. It’s also the reason that you’ll find the bigger fish there. The bigger fish are there to feed on the little fish.

A True Story

Not long ago there was a guy fishing a little further down the beach from me. I thought he was a little strange because he showed up wearing long pants and sneakers with socks. Now who does that to go surf fishing?

The surf was quite high and the waves washed up on the sand at least 10 yards. I noticed that he was fishing from a spot where he wouldn’t get his feet wet. Not only that but he was fishing with a short light rod that was more suitable for pan fish. Go figure!

As I watched him cast, I could see that he was just barely reaching beyond the edge of the surf line. Now my friend and I are fishing with 12 foot surf rods, out about 80 yards or so. All of a sudden here he comes walking toward us while fighting a fish with his rod bent way over.

Whatever he’s got, he can’t get it in and it’s running down the shoreline. We watched as he went under our rods past us and down the beach at least 300 yards before getting some control. He ended up using the surf to push it up on the beach to get it in.

Knowing that he didn’t want to get wet, I ran down there to give him a hand. As I approached I could see something flopping in the wash. To my surprise it was a manta ray with about a 4 foot wing span. I got it released for him and returned it to the water.

Beached Manta Ray

Now here’s a guy that anyone would have thought doesn’t have a clue about surf fishing and can barely cast far enough to reach the water. He catches a four foot manta ray while my friend and I hadn’t caught anything yet.

This is just one story. I’ve seen plenty of guys catch one fish after another and only casting a short distance to do it.

I’m not suggesting that you should concentrate on fishing closer to shore. It’s perfectly acceptable though, if that’s as far as you can cast.

What I Would Recommend

If you have the equipment and are able to cast a respectable distance my recommendation is to fish with two rods. Cast one out for distance and fish with the other in closer. You never know where you’ll have the best luck.

If you can bring two different kinds of bait with you. Since the basic surf rig usually has two hooks put a different bait on each hook.

This will increase your chance to locate where the fish are feeding. You’ll be testing two kinds of bait in two different locations to learn what works best for that day. Once you figure it out change everything over to what works the best.

5 Responses to How Far Do You Need To Cast For Big Surf Fish

  • Simple theory.  Love it. I too cast as far as I can.  And limit myself on what I catch. 

    • Thanks Randy! I like your common sense when it comes
      to fishing depth on the surf. Two poles at different depths
      and two kinds of bait on each pole —WOW why didn’t I
      come up with that.

      • Hi Rand A few years ago my friend and I came upon a fishing contest where some very experienced fishermen spread for a mile along the beach. We had only basic gear and just a little mackerel and squid for bait. I squeezed in between two people with fantastic tackle and proudly wearing the logo of their sponsors. Knowing my inability to cast far or straight I dropped my line between theirs quite near the shore. In a short time I hooked a rather large conger eel to the amazement of everyone and myself. The contest ended and my fish came second place just under the first prize by ounces. My prize was £147 I then won the raffle and later discovered that the man who issued my ticket had not taken my entrance fee for the competition. What a day and so I agree that you don’t need to be a expert or cast miles out to sea to catch a big fish.

  • Learning to read the water is more important than casting far.