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Saltwater Fly Fishing Bonefish, Tarpon, Redfish, Permit, False Albacore, Striped Bass, etc...

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Old 09-09-2013, 11:20 PM
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Default Fishing in the surf

Hey everyone,

This is a post born of countless hours of walking the beaches throwing flies in every condition at every time of day with a multitude of flies during every phase of the tide, mainly utter frustration at being skunked so thoroughly.
I dont have a boat and this is pretty much my only option. Im out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA. I mainly fish Tybee island but on a whim took a weekend to Jacksonville and broke my 2 month skunk streak by throwing a gurgler in the twilight during a rising tide and nailed some hefty trout and one pompano. With the exception of fishing under a dock light at night(pretty much cheating) thats been it.
I have two set ups; a clear 9 wt intermediate line with usually a six foot tippet and if im feeling frisky ill throw on a shock tippet of 50lb mono and a 9 wt floating line. Ive thrown clousers in every cooler, gurglers, deceivers, seaducers, surf candies, shrimp and crab patterns.
My question is what in the world is the x factor here that im missing? My only conclusion is that its my retrieve. I've tired fishing low and slow, dead drifting, moderate and fast retrievals. Im close to my wits end, if anyone with any experience fishing in the surf especially anywhere REMOTELY close to here could weigh in on this I would be beyond thankful. Appreciate the help everyone. J.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:31 AM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

First of all throwing at dock lights is not cheating it's smart fishing! Some of my best sea trout nights have come that way! Also nobody catches every time in the surf there are too many variables! But you can up your odds and improve your results by fishing at the best times and using what works in a given situation!
Tides are extremely important and although I have caught fish at dead low as well as flood the best times are 2 hours before and 2 hours after the high tide.Go to your favorite beach at low tide and look what it presents. Look for bars, channels and cuts as well as structure : rocks, shell beds ,old docks anything different. One of my best spots at night is a roped off swim area at a public beach because it is one big shell bed cross crossed with sand bars!
Look for bait , look for nervous water . Nervous water looks out of place as opposed to the rest of the waves and flat water. Bait that is breaking water or birds that are diving ( not landing ) signal feeding predators .
Jettys , inlets and drainages are your friend they get bait and water movement and so predators!
Know your seasons and your local fish. Find out what's migrating and what's prevalent at that time of year and key on that species. No sense throwing a crab fly when there are bait eaters in the water and vice a versa.
Personally if I had only one fly to toss all day it would be a Clouser in green/white or pink/white for any saltwater situation anywhere . But there are plenty of other options so study what's in the water your fishing.
The times I have fished in your area besides many dock light situations I did very well in the marshy area with lots of saw grass in the tidal zone at flood tide. Looking for little rivlets dumping bait fish into the water was also productive.
One other thing very similiar to fresh water fishing don't get stuck on one spot experiment with new places and learn them like the spots you spend time on and you will improve your productivity!
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:46 AM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

listen to him good advise.
one other thing find a buddy or meet other fly flingers from the area, lots of advise.
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Old 09-14-2013, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Don't give up. I spent quite a few sessions fly fishing the surf with little or no results before things started to click. Reading the beach and the water is critical.

The advice given by theboz is spot on. Look for troughs, rip currents, nervous water, crashing birds, etc. The fish are rarely found in spots where the beach is smooth and flat with no action on the water. Rip currents create troughs and trenches and move bait toward and away from the beach. Putting your fly in the cauldron is like drifting your fly in the foam line of a river's current. That's where the fish are waiting for their next meal.

Pay close attention to the tides before going to the beach. A moving tide is your friend. Two weeks out of each month, the tides have larger fluctuations around the full moon or the new moon. Concentrate on those weeks for the best results.

Once you're there, take some time to scan the water for likely spots. As far as patterns go, small Clousers in baitfish colors or shrimp/crab colors tend to work very well. The rougher the conditions, the more important it is to have a sinking line and maybe a stripping basket. For mild conditions, your intermediate line should be fine. It all depends on the conditions and your ability to stay in touch with your fly line.

If the surf is rough to the point that you have difficulty staying in touch with your line, then go with a heavier sinking fly line.

You're right on with experimenting with different retrieves. Sometimes they like fast, other times slow. Sometimes they grab during a pause, other times, they attack it on the move. Vary your technique until you find what works for that particular spot on a given day.

Good luck.

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Old 09-15-2013, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

I'd try dropping down to 30 lb bite tippet max and fishing early and late.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Fish first light and sunset, right before both until right after.

You need to fish STRUCTURE an open beach looks all the same to the untrained eye, I suggest Lou Tabory 's book, it is aimed at striped bass, but at least a third of the book explains understanding structure and current in the surf.

Bait. What size bait is in the area? Try to use a fly the same size as the bait.

---------- Post added at 12:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:50 PM ----------

PS the book I referenced is " inshore fly fishing"


Good Luck

---------- Post added at 12:56 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:53 PM ----------

As a last resort, and this will not be a popular snswer with some, use spinning gear or bait , to locate fish.

Then at least you know what stage of the tide/conditions to look for fish in any given area. Then break out the fly gear and target them.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Thanks for the info about Inshore Fly Fishing. You can get used copies of the first edition on Amazon for $.01 + 3.99 shipping. The 2nd edition will cost you just over $20.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Boz has it right. On first glance a beach is featureless. One spot is the same as another right? Wrong. The surf is like a trout stream. You need to learn to read the water. Structure, drop-offs, channels, and hard bottom can make all the difference. Rule of thumb is that early on the rising tide (at least for snook and reds down here) and half to almost full for sea trout. Likewise the end of the fall for snook and the beginning to half of the fall for trout. Jacks and blues (when the weather gets cold) will hit any time you give them something shiny in moving water. 0 dark thirty on a rising spring tide is best, or at night. Me, I'm a bit of an insomniac so I tend to stay up till 5 in the morning rather than getting up at that ungodly hour, but if the tide is right then, you're golden. I've never had any real success in daylight, so for me the surf is either a night time or early morning show. That said I know bait fisherman score during the day so the fish are there. Just don't waste your time on a slack tide. You'll catch nothing.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Funny, I had the opposite experience with fly fishing in the surf.
My wife's family takes a yearly trip to Cape Cod. I got bored the first trip and have spent most of my time fishing the beach on subsequent trips. First couple years I just brought a surf-casting rod (a massive spinning rod/reel) and fished bait as far out as I could fling it. Never caught a damn thing.
This year, I had my fly rod in the back of my car already, so I decided I'd take that out. Put on a big white wooly bugger and just goofed around the edges of a little rip. There is zero structure on this beach, so it was all i had to go with. Wound up catching DOZENS of juvenile bluefish. All of them smaller than the trout I usually catch, but man do they fight! However, they've got really sharp teeth, so they cut through my leader (just a normal freshwater 4x trout leader) many, many times and I eventually ran out of flies. But it was great fun! Beats standing around with the surf rod waiting hours for something to happen...
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Old 10-15-2013, 10:04 PM
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Default Re: Fishing in the surf

Quote:
Originally Posted by willapajames View Post
Funny, I had the opposite experience with fly fishing in the surf.
My wife's family takes a yearly trip to Cape Cod. I got bored the first trip and have spent most of my time fishing the beach on subsequent trips. First couple years I just brought a surf-casting rod (a massive spinning rod/reel) and fished bait as far out as I could fling it. Never caught a damn thing.
This year, I had my fly rod in the back of my car already, so I decided I'd take that out. Put on a big white wooly bugger and just goofed around the edges of a little rip. There is zero structure on this beach, so it was all i had to go with. Wound up catching DOZENS of juvenile bluefish. All of them smaller than the trout I usually catch, but man do they fight! However, they've got really sharp teeth, so they cut through my leader (just a normal freshwater 4x trout leader) many, many times and I eventually ran out of flies. But it was great fun! Beats standing around with the surf rod waiting hours for something to happen...
Click the image to open in full size.
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