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Surf Fishing The Structure To Find The Fish

Surf Fishing Beach Structure
Surf fishing the structure and knowing what to look for is key to finding the fish. When you’re new to surf fishing all the water looks the same but once you can identify different kinds of structure it changes everything.

When I say look for the structure, what comes to mind? Let me explain. The structure I’m referring to is the underwater terrain that is only detectable after you study the surface of the water. Sometimes it’s very obvious but other times it’s quite subtle.

To get good at it you have to learn what to look for and it does take practice. It helps if you have an experienced angler who can show you the different kinds of structure and how to best fish them.

If you have to learn it on your own this article will get you started. Then it’s up to you to work with it to get good. In a previous article I explained how to locate a hot spot by scouting at low tide. But what if you didn’t have a chance to do some scouting at low tide? That’s where the real skill comes in.

The picture at the top of the page is an aerial view which makes it much easier to see how the water reveals the substructure. When I don’t have a chance to scout at low tide I will study the water from the high point of the walk over. I’m looking for anything like the image above that might give me a clue.

Structure Type #1 Sandbars

The easiest structure to locate is a sandbar. It almost needs no explanation. A sandbar is always revealed by the waves that rise and crest as they pass over it. If your still developing the finer details of reading the other types of structure you can at least learn to fish the deeper water between the sandbars.

The troughs between the sandbars form the underwater highways traveled by the fish. Since surf anglers will fish more than one rod, target the closest trough and the next one further out to see if you can find fish. Sometime they’re in close and sometimes not but the only way to find out is to get some bait in different locations.

Structure Type #2 Run Outs (Or Rips)

See the rip located in the photo above. This is the holy grail  of hot spots. The fish will stage themselves on the far side of the bar waiting for food sources to wash through the rip.

You can free line bait through and right into the waiting predators on the other side. Free lining bait is best done with a reel that has a baitfeeder built into it. You can learn more about free lining and baitfeeders here.

If you don’t have a bait feeder you can try to get your bait anywhere on either far side of the sandbar where you should find some action.

When locating a rip at high tide look for a steady flow of surf suds flowing out away from the beach. Pay close attention to the waves as they pass over the sandbar. The rip will be where the wave height disappears while either side of the wave passes over normally.

Structure Type #3 A Hole

You’ll usually find a hole closer to the beach. It may be part of a rip or a deeper section of water located next to a point. Look for water that is darker than the water around it. Also look for wave action that disappears over that area.

Fish will stage in and around the slope if the hole. Work your bait around the sloped areas that you can identify.

Structure Type #4 A Point

A point is merely a section along the edge of the beach that juts out. Stand at the edge of the surf and look both ways up and down the beach. Look for locations that interrupt the straight line of the beach and waters edge.

Get closer and study the color of water to determine if there are deep areas located where it juts away from the beach line. Sometimes it’s just a small change in the waters edge and probably not productive. What you want to find is a spot where the bottom has been scooped out by the wave action and the water is noticeably darker in that area.

Fish your bait around the sloped edges of the formation.

Final Tips

If your very new to finding and surf fishing the structure your in for an exciting experience. The first time you realize you caught fish because you picked a likely productive spot your whole outlook on surf fishing changes.

The good news is once you get good at identifying potential fish holding spots your success rate will change significantly. The bad news is the beach structure changes often. So you will need to find new hot spots on a regular basis.

Even if your not that good at identifying structure yet, just look for the anomalies and try your bait around those areas. Sooner or later it will start to make sense.

If you like this article leave me a comment below.

16 Responses to Surf Fishing The Structure To Find The Fish

  • I’m a newbee so it is all good information to me

  • Thanks Randy. The picture at the top of the page really
    helped me.

  • Is your information just as valuable on the Southern West Coast?

  • hi thanks again Randy for spot on infor cheers

  • Thanks for the info, it will be a great help.

  • Really good stuff- interesting. My wife Janet & myself are fairly new at surf fishing, but your information makes it more fun.

  • 19.11.15
    Hi Randy
    You are an incredibly an honest Teacher. It is high time U start an Uni on Surf Fishing. [I am not joking] Randy’s University of Surf Fishing or Randy’s U.S.F. Cheers. Have a Nice Day.

  • How long do you stay in an area thats not very productive and what tide is fishing usually best
    Thanks for your great articles and please keep them coming

    • Joe thanks for asking. I’m always looking for good article ideas. So be on the lookout for an up coming article on this,

  • What baits do you use and can you describe exactly how to use them and why you use them
    Thanks for all your great info and keep up the good work

    • This is another great idea for an article. Be on the lookout for my favorite baits and how I use them. Coming soon.

  • Randy thanks your info even helps us here in South Africa the good old Cape Town

  • Thanks Randy. Great article. Applicable to any beach fishing style, spinning or fly fishing.

  • Since I’m not an English speaker, my understanding to your explanation is just about 80%. Any way, the writing improve my fishing knowledge. Thank’s a lot Randy.

  • Randy

    Thanks for the info.  That is the answer to becoming more successful.  Hope to meet this week with someone who can show me what to look for.