Has anyone ever surf fished?

I'm heading to the Outer Banks for the first time this weekend and I read where it has really good surf fishing. As of now I'm going to bring a 7ft catfish pole and just wing it.

Does anyone have any advice/tips?

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In Soviet Russia, surf fishes you

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

That was just after a 6OT win, right?

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!


In America, you make joke...

In Russia, joke makes YOU!

Edit: for to those of you who don't understand or would like to know, listen to the Gilbert Gottfried interview in the beginning of this TMOS episode. https://mikeomearashow.com/2017/12/1914-gilbert-gottfried/

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All of that dudes ribs are powder now.

Boy, what a question. Let me preface this by saying I currently live 4 hours from the coast, and have only surf fished a handful of times. However: I do fish every week (lakes/ponds) and have researched this topic extensively, so as to be prepared when I do get to go. I'll keep it short and sweet.

Setup: Use your pole + 3oz or greater no roll weight + an 18" steel leader on a swivel + a circle hook (size 3). Sometimes I've used a steel leader with two hooks positioned about 6-8" apart. You can buy them this way at any tackle shop or Walmart.

Bait: shrimp, dead or alive

Cast: Where the waves break is a natural sandbar. There are usually two. The area in between is called the trough. Fish of varying sizes patrol this zone, that is your first target. Second choice would be beyond the second sandbar, which will equate to the start of deeper water.

1. Not having enough line on your spool
2. Not having shrimp
3. Not having a heavy enough weight

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

The regulars will also tell you the best times to surf fish are the two hours before and after high tide. That 4 hr chunk of time, they say, produces the highest catch ratio.

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

If you are casting any amount of weight at all, you need a much longer leader than 18". The leader is called a shock leader and is literally to absorb the initial shock of the cast. With a 7' rod, you aren't going to generate a ton of force but it's still a good idea to have the leader be the length of rod + a few wraps on the spool so your leader knot doesn't destroy your guides on the way out.

Also, ditch the wire bottom rigs and buy some (or just tie your own) made of flourocarbon.

*edit - If casting metal or other lures, 18" flourocarbon leader is correct. Make sure you use a decent barrel swivel between main line and leader or you are going to have terrible line twist problems from the repeated retrieves.

Where on OBX? I was just down in Avon a couple weeks ago and watch out for road washouts at S Turns at high tide. They're building a new bridge but it ain't nowhere near done.

I have also not surf fished except maybe once, was unsuccessful. But I was surfing at the point and there were a ton of fishermen there. There were some at Avon too.

Hatteras. I've never been to the OBX before and found a good deal on Air Bnb. I'm mostly just going to hang out with the wife and dogs at the beach most of the time. Figured fishing was something else to do.

To me, surf fishing at Hatteras as just something else to do is kinda like watching some football while attending the superbowl as just something else to do. I love hatteras and it's one of my top three vacation and surf fishing destinations. I have an idea you're really going to enjoy it. Good luck and have fun!

You staying in Hatteras Village?

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

The Hatteras Cabanas.

Go to Frisco Rod and Gun on your way to the place then. They are good guys and will help you out.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Hit up Harbor Deli for lunch one day, good sandwiches

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Thanks. Any good sports bars in the area I can hit up for the game Saturday?

It opened since the last time I was there. Lighthouse Sports Bar.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Thanks man!

That was more than just a high tide that washed the road out, we had a full moon and a nor'easter (that became subtropical storm Melissa) bearing down.

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

The road isn't washed out anymore. I was down there this weekend.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

If you plan to surf fish again, pick up a 10 ft combo at a sporting good store before you go. Stop into the local bait shop when you get there and talk to the person behind the counter. They'll show you what type of rigs to use and sell you some bait. Easiest way to start is to just fish on the bottom with cut bait. 3 or 4 ounce weights...depending on the current/wind. Use just enough weight to hold bottom. Get yourself a sand spike...you put your rod in that while you sit and drink beer.


Yep, basically this is what you should start off doing. Depending on where you are staying will depend on the bait shop. You want a double hook bottom rig with a pyramid sinker

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Right?....and if you have fun, 15 years later you'll have a garage full of surf rods, reels and tackle. Surf fishing is great because you get to hang with your family on the beach and fish at the same time. This is a good time of the year to go too!


Yep its a slower pace and more laid back than most fishing. Definitely fall is the best time to go

Can't spell DBU without Bud

I've surf fished in Lynnhaven/VA Beach area on the bay side. Don't have much advice nor do I know anything about fishing other than to cast and reel it in, but we used frozen squid and caught croakers, dogfish and skates non stop, so I assume cut up squid is a good bait.

You've never done it before? What could go wrong? If you don't plan to buy specialized gear for a one off, just plan to keep it simple. With a 7' rod, you probably won't be able to toss much more than three oz weights. The pyramid style is best unless the surf is really high and current strong, and if so, you'd be better off walking the dogs. If you are loaded with monofilament, don't bother with shock leaders and such. Just buy the ready made bottom rigs at a shop down there, a couple of packs of hooks, a couple weights and some bait. TALK TO THE PEOPLE AT THE TACKLE SHOP AND ANYONE YOU SEE FISHING ON THE BEACH. Can't stress that enough. Find out what's biting. If bluefish, get a couple of fireball rigs (ask for them, they gottem) and some fresh mullet if you can get it. Filet and scale and cut into strips. If sea mullet (roundhead, whiting) are biting, get some fishbites (bloodworm). Almost as good as real bloodworms without the mess, or death, of live worms, and they work. If the bag is mixed out there, shrimp is a great bait. Puppy drum (redfish, channel bass) and speckled trout will hit shrimp as will the sea mullet, but be sure to have plenty as shrimp is soft and will not last too long in the surf.
Don't try too hard to reach the deepest water. Get into the first trough and live with it. A 7' rod isn't ideal for lengthy casts and if you try too hard, you'll be breaking off rigs. If the action seems to be on lures and you want to try that, again, determine what you want to catch and head to the tackle shop. Blues and Spanish mackerel have sharp teeth and will bite you off, so a leader may be necessary, but for a first timer, you'd maybe be better off sticking with the bottom rig/fireball rig approach and branching out down the line if the experience calls to you.

The world of surf fishing is wide and wonderful, and cannot be fully appreciated in one go, but there's no reason you cannot be successful if conditions allow. My first surf fish came at Hatteras and it was spot on a Zebco, so take heart.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

This is good advice....it's not always about how far you cast. Just get it out past the shore break. Sometimes they're in closer than you think. Whiting and pompano feed right in the breakers....the blues are usually a little past the breakers, but sometimes not by much.


Pompano also like fishbites, by the way, and can also be caught, as can the whiting, on the sand fleas in the surf. Catch a bunch of them and sort through looking for soft shelled ones for the best bait, but both fish love to eat even the hard shelled ones, so there's cheap bait just waiting for you.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

*Cracks knuckles* okay.

1) At a minimum, you should carry three rods with you.
a. a heavy rod capable of throwing at least three ounces of weight and bait. This rod should have a shock leader of 30-40 pound line at least twice the length of the rod to prevent breaking off when casting. This can be tied to your main line with a double uni knot (mono to mono) or an alberto knot (braid to mono.)
b. A medium/medium light spinning rod similar to something you would use for smallmouth bass. Tie a 14 inch section of 20 pound flurocarbon leader to the end with a 3/4 oz jig head, and bring white gulp curly tails.
c. A medium spinning rod (largemouth bass size). Tie the same length leader of 20lb fluro and tie on a 1 oz stingsilver

2. Tie up your own bottom rig. If you are fishing for predators (large drum, sharks) use a fishfinder rig. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA1YjZS3l5o If you use this, tie the bite leader (the section from the hook to the barrel swivel as short as possible to prevent helicoptering when you cast. And, only use one bead (above your weight slider) to prevent your sinker from going above your shock knot.

If you are fishing for panfish (which would be better for the gear you are bringing) tie up a dropper loop rig. https://youtu.be/2UUoVIBp1_M

3. You need to look for two things in a spot. If you want large predators, find an outflow/rip current. Otherwise, most of the fish will be close to the lip of the beach in the first trough.

4. Use 8/0 octopus circles on your fishfinder rig and 2 x 2 inch chunks or heads of fresh cob sized mullet. Throw those in the outflow if you can find one.

5. Otherwise, use the dropper loop rig with smaller hooks, perhaps size 1 baitholders. Fish small (pinky nail size is my standard) chunks of mullet (will catch bluefish and sea mullet along with the occasional shark or skate) or bloodworm fishbites (sea mullet, spot.) You can also catch sand fleas in the wash and use them for bigger sea mullet. A puppy drum could also surprise you.

6. Rig the jig rod with a 3 or 4 inch white gulp, and fish it in the trough in close. Slowly twitch and retrieve. Experiment with speeds, but usually when you think you are going too slow, you need to slow down. There are a lot of big trout (up to 24 inches, with lots of 13 inchers) around. You could also get a puppy drum or a flounder. You have to throw back all flounder. The season is closed.

7. Keep the stingsilver rod in the rod holder. If you see birds popping, use that rod to make long casts into the area the birds are diving in. Unlike the trout rod, you can't fish too fast with the stingsilver. Play motorboat.

8. Note, you need a license to fish off the beach in NC. You also need an ORV permit if you drive on the beach.

9. Best wind depends on your location. A light south is ideal for Frisco and Hatteras Beaches, but that completely changes if you are north of the Point or on Hatteras Inlet. 3rdGen would know better than me.

10. DO NOT FISH AT THE POINT based on this tutorial. If you plan on fishing at the Point, we can have a different discussion but it is a very different animal.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

And if you are primarily just going to sandspike the rod and have a beer, then get some FRESH cob or finger mullet, keep them well iced in a cooler, and chunk it out. But, make sure you set your drag loose. A big carhood ray or garbo (sand tiger shark) has taken many a first timer's rod for a swim at Hatteras.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Oh, and always use a shock leader when throwing anything over 2 ounces. And snell your hooks when you use a circle hook!

Easy snell knot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzM4UxvMXLw

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

This link made my day! Way easier than what I've been doing.

My only advice to the OP...this coming from someone who has fished nearly 6 decades but is a newbie to the surf...unless you are used to circle hooks or are leaving the rod in a spike to let the fish hook itself, use the Octopus hook https://www.amazon.com/Mustad-UltraPoint-92553NP-Octopus-Chartreuse/dp/B... but not the circle variety. IMO, if you are going to be holding the rod and are used to setting the hook when you feel the fish pick up the bait, you will miss most of those strikes on a circle hook.

It looks like a crap knot. But, it is the only knot I have ever tied that hasn't failed on me at least once.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

ever super glue it?

No. Never had to.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN


This can't be emphasized enough.

As far as the winds, I'm no expert of that. Still trying to figure it out. I go with the general theory that you have impressed on me. You want the wind in your face. I had decent success on light winds trying to trout fish last fall.
I will have some more theories after spending a week down there mid November. At the point, it's mainly when there is current and washing an 8 ounce sinker

Can't spell DBU without Bud

First: This is a great thread with a ton of useful information - THANKS EVERYONE WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED!

Second: This has me very curious - why is fishing at the point so different/should it be avoided? Don't need a super detailed explanation, but it piqued my curiosity for sure.

You're welcome! My favorite thing to talk about is fishing.

Okay will try to make it short. When I'm talking about the Point I mean the literal tip of the island not just driving out on 44 and parking somewhere on the north beach or even down the south beach. Fishing the point is different because of the amount of people and the amount of current that occurs there. When there are good conditions to dictate a hot drum bite or someone has caught a drum, there will be at least 50+ people shoulder to shoulder casting out and walking down the beach because their 8 ounce sinker is washing with the current. These are serious guys that will be pissed if you throw out your 4 ounce sinker a lot shorter than other people and get tangled in peoples lines while they have a drum on. Tangles already occur enough with how many people are fishing there especially in low light (sunrise/sunset) condition where the bite can be better. You need to know how things work and be able to cast well.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Current is so heavy that you have to have the right gear, and you have to be willing to stand and move with your line. Braid is incredibly popular now, but braid tangles easily and the combination of moving currents, inexperience, and mono getting cut on braid makes inexperienced anglers and braid very unpopular at the point. It is similar to fishing the end of a pier with a bunch of regulars- there is a pulse and pace that takes some time to get used to. It is totally different from the surf fishing advice we provided above.

I am about 10 years removed from fishing the Point, so I will defer to others who have fished there more recently. But, it is a very challenging environment for a beginner because I was a beginner when I fished there.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Everything you said still holds true. More people this year because Ocracoke is closed. You have to walk with it. No sand spikes when drum fishing at the point! I will be out there after Thanksgiving so I hope there will be less people. Might be a little late on peak drum fishing but hoping to get on a good trout bite.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

1) Hard SW blow may create some drum bites. Pups and trout should be around.
2) The only time I fished the Point this late was back when the Wheels Reels Striper Tournament last happened. The Point was off limits for tournament guys, so we went there expecting it to be empty. It was a Garbo-fest, but I beached a couple that were in the 6-7 foot class.

Stay warm! And hopefully the trout cooperate. I heard this cold snap turned the rockfish on in the Bay.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I caught mine last year on the SW blow. I went after Thanksgiving last year too but Thanksgiving is a lot later than usual. Yeah back when there were still big stripers to catch in the surf this far south. I'm hoping that there is light wind so I can get on a good trout/pup bite. A little more in tune with what I need to look for.

Striper are starting to get into the open water just gotta find those birds.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

I would also suggest that you ask any of your fishing friends if they have a cheap surf rod and reel you could borrow. That will help with length of casts and the longer rod keeps the line out of the crashing waves. You do need a sand spike to keep the reel out of the sand, and even if you don't fish, if you have your rig on the beach, remember to spray it down carefully, but thoroughly, after each exposure to salt air or water.
French is right about the license. It costs $10 and you can get it online before you go.
Don't fret the perfectionist/enthusiasts call for specialized rigs and gear. I've been surf fishing for 55 years, and while I don't do the big drum at the point thing and am far from an expert, I still use the store bought bottom and fireball rigs and don't get outfished when the fish are hitting bait, so don't sweat that for a first time attempt.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

No, but I have skeet surfed. (Surf skeeted?)

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Only advice I can give is, pay attention to their flags and tide advisories. I don't think there's anything currently going on, but they had several deaths in August/September when the hurricanes were out in the Atlantic causing major riptides and dangerous surf conditions.

All good advice. If the surf doesn't seem amenable, though, head for the nearest pier. For a casual angler, that can be a ton of fun, and while you should leave the end of the pier to the obsessed (lookin' at YOU, French), there's plenty of room, company and advice to be gleaned from a pier trip and your rod and reel will work just fine.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Pier is always a good idea, especially with a strong onshore wind. Be prepared to drive. Avon is open, but the end is closed. Rodanthe is the closest open pier, and that is a haul from Hatteras Village.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Damnit. I should've have started this thread. I see a trip to Cabela's or Academy Sports tonight before I make the trip haha. Thanks for the advise. Spiking my rod and drinking beer is exactly what I'm looking for.

As you can see, it's a popular topic for many of us. Best of luck, and please, for the sake of closure, do get back to us with a report. Have a great vacation.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Always feel free to swing into the monthly fishing threads for year round discussion, also a good place to search old threads to see what all has been posted there lots of helpful stuff in those threads.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Read the title, assumed you were talking about this:

Well, you should be back by now. We fisherpersons would love to know how your vacation went, whether you tried the surf out, how you did, etc.
As much as we love to give advice, we love to hear the report of whether any of it actually worked for you. Thanks in advance!

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Sorry for being so late writing an update. Haven't been on the Off Topic Boards since then.

The Vacation was awesome. The dogs had a love/hate relationship with the beach (loved the beach, hated the ocean.)
We ate at some really good restaurants. The best food was the Lighthouse Bar and Grill during the game. Awesome wings and they had some flatbread pizza thing that was really good as well.

There isn't much fishing to report. I tried to surf fish on Friday morning and it was a lost cause with the equipment i had. Way too much wind and the waves were too big to get a decent cast out. I found some inter coastal near where we were staying and tried it out the next day using shrimp and sea mullet as bait. Tiny fish at my bait constantly. Couldn't keep my bait out long enough to catch anything.

I guess that's why it's called fishin' and not catchin'. Keep trying!


Thanks for getting back with us on your attempt. Glad you enjoyed the vacation, and my dogs have generally fallen into your dogs' category, not having been a devotee of duck dogs like so many beachy folks I know. The dog we had that loved to swim wherever, ocean included, was a little 15 lb peke/beagle mix that was absolutely fearless in the water of any kind, current tide temperature be damned. Loved that little dog, but I digress.

You were unlucky enough to catch a bad time to try to surf fish, especially given the limitations of your gear. While it is a fishy time of year, it is also the time of year that the wind, waves and weather can make it more challenging than fun. Again, thanks for the report. Folks often make fun of fishermen for tall fish tales, but it is the honest reports that teach the most, regardless of result. Our fishing community here on TKP seems to be as honest and as helpful a bunch of fisherfolk as you're likely to find.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

No. No one has ever surf fished.

"How you doin', Randy?"

i have thought this or some similar response (e.g. "i'm sure SOMEONE has") each time i've seen this thread in active discussions panel

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Spin fishing is for sissies. Pick up a fly rod.


You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

Let me know when you cast 800 feet with your fly rod...

Can't spell DBU without Bud

14 foot rod? My push pole is 22 feet. Why doesn't he crank it up a bit

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

I'm sure they tried it. Something something diminishing returns and not a manly man like you

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Interestingly enough accuracy is far more important than distance in about 90% of fishing situations. That guy might be able to chuck it 800 feet, but he's going to miss a 20 pound redfish at 40 feet. Rarely does a hero cast work out. In surf fishing, perhaps, if you want to hit that second bar.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

You know how much water I could cover blind casting 800ft. Not that that's a good strategy to fish but you could cover a lot of water....and get snagged a lot 799ft away.

(add if applicable) /s

Agreed. Logic states that 1. can't catch anything without your lure in the water and 2. the longer (time and distance) it is in the water, the more likely you are to catch a fish.

In surf fishing, it may help to throw it a mile. Whenever I've surf fished, I catch fish in the close slot, often with a fly rod or the 2-3 times out of the year I'm chucking mullet or squid, it is still in the breakers.

It's cool the guy can do it. I just find accuracy to be way more important and that's what I teach my clients. Of course, most of the fishing we are doing is sight fishing or casting to structure within 50 feet. I tell every single one of my clients if they can cast 50 feet accurately with a fly rod, they can fly fish anywhere in the world. I would say the same goes for a spin rod.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

It is important sometimes when the fish are out farther. There is a reason that the best guys usually catch drum even if the bite isn't hot. Also nobody is actually chucking it 800 ft on a fishing cast only in those casting competitions. Maybe 300-400 feet I guess. Yes I agree accuracy usually wins.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Yep. In surf fishing, there are fish in close, for sure, but sometimes the big fish are past that sandbar out there and you aren't getting there with spinning gear, even with 12' rods and braid. Those dudes who can toss those heavers are, as you say, the ones who score most consistently with drum in particular. Obviously, you aren't trying to cover water or work a slough, but to get big bait way the hell out there.
Flyguy's right about accuracy, though. More fishing occurs where that's the key than distance, and sometimes close isn't good enough. Dock fishing around here keeps me from totally rusting accuracy-wise, but isn't as demanding as smallmouth fishing on the New. It's like golf. Long and accurate is great, but short and accurate will get you around the course.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Crazy thing- somehow I have never run into Tommy Farmer fishing anywhere. I think the longest caster I have run into is probably Chris Storrs. He can bomb.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I've seen insane fly rod casters as well. Some of the Bahamian guides blew my mind at a show one time, but for sheer distance on a fly rod, Lefty Kreh takes the cake. All the line and well into the backing, man, a prodigious display of power casting from an expert. I've told the story before, and we gave him shit because his cast was so far he couldn't hook the redeye that hit his fly, but I'll never forget it.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Spey Casters can throw 150 feet plus. I've heard of a few guides being able to throw a fly line 100 feet without a rod, just by hand.

Lefty was amazing...

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

At a show in Charlotte maybe 15 years ago I saw a Bahamian bonfish guide do just that with the fly line. No rod, just by hand. Cast the whole magilla. Pretty damn impressive.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I haven't seen him on the point that I know of. Definitely some guys can bomb it out there. Travis is definitely up there.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

Travis, Arch, Tom Harris, Ricky Wilson, Joel, Lee, Patterson... they could all bomb.

Lee has a 100 fish fall a couple of years ago. Hard to believe that will be topped in this day and age.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I've seen Lee out there all the time on the point. If I'm thinking of the same guy. He caught 3 when the drum were on top casting a big metal. He was in full sprint for hundreds of yard down the beach.

Can't spell DBU without Bud

"sissies" you say? Something, something, something, flyguy and a gold spoon? But yep, if you're fly fishing, you do need to be good at ducking, I'll give you that.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

There are gold spoons made for fly fishing....

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

Unnnh hunnnh.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Didn't doubt you for a moment, and I've seen some nice spoon flies. CK's spoon minnow is a great fly. Just givin' you an elbow.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I know. I tie my own spoon flies but they don't spin right.

Haven't seen the CK version!

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

I had modest success with them, but they look great. Epoxy body with his signature fabric tail. I'll try to remember to bring you one when next we meet.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays