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Surf Fishing

Updated on October 11, 2014

Surf Fishing - Beaches, Jetties, Rocks and Other Spots

This page covers the basics of surf fishing as well as information about regional surf fishing in the USA.

Surf fishing (sometimes called surfcasting) is popular along the Atlantic Coast from Canada to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico and along much of the Pacific Coast.

USA Mid Atlantic Surf Fish

Atlantic Croaker

Atlantic Croaker or "hardhead" are popular saltwater fish common along the Atlantic coast. The fish get their names because of the "croaking" noise the make when removed from the water. Croakers are hard fighters and prolific feeders. They are caught in the surf on a variety of baits and sometimes school in large numbers.

Bluefish

Bluefish are an exciting game fish caught from the surf. They are found all along the USA east coast, sometimes in large schools. The fish are voracious feeders and are known for their sharp teeth and ability to demolish even the strongest tackle. In some areas cut baits are used, including squid, fish, bloodworms or other baits. Anglers also cast artificial lures and fly fish for bluefish. The fish have dark, oily meat but are excellent smoked.

Spot

Spot occur along the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of Maine to Florida, although they are most abundant from Chesapeake Bay south to South Carolina. Spot are fun to catch and a great fish for anglers of all ages. Spot are commonly caught in the surf and from fishing piers. Anglers use standard 2 hook rigs, using small hooks and small pieces of bait. Popular baits include bloodworms, shrimp, clam and synthetic bloodworm type baits.

Kingfish

Kingfish are members of the croaker family. Their small size is made up by their numbers, fighting ability and delicate flavor. Kingfish vary widely in color but are easy to identify due to their long bodies, distinctively shaped heads and rough scales.

Summer Flounder

Summer flounder are among the most sought after fish caught in the surf. Anglers use standard surf rigs and fish with baits such as squid, minnows or strip baits.

Red Drum

Red drum or redfish can be caught in a myriad of ways. Probably the most widely utilized technique for catching red drum along the Atlantic coast is to fish sloughs and bars along the surf using a fishfinder rig and baits such as whole spot, spot fillets or heads, mullet, bluefish fillets, crabs, shrimp or other baits. Further South, anglers fish flats and grass beds with live baits such as shrimp or cast artificial lures or saltwater flies to red drum.

Striped Bass

Striped bass have several regional names. Known as striped bass, stripers, linesides, rockfish and other names, this fish is highly sought after as a recreational fish, as a commercial species and is even grown in aquaculture operations. Striped bass are very hardy fish, and even take to life in freshwater where they are often stocked throughout the USA. Rigs and baits for striped bass vary with their location and what the fish are feeding on. In some areas cut baits are used, including clams, fish, crabs, shrimp, squid, bloodworms or other baits. Anglers also troll, jig, cast artificial lures and fly fish for striped bass.

Weakfish

Weakfish are beautiful fish. The name "weakfish" comes from the fish's fragile mouth, which tears easily when hooked. Typically, weakfish have a dark olive back, iridescent blue and copper sides and a silvery white belly. Other identifying features are yellow fins, large canine teeth in the upper jaw and dark spots on the upper part of the body, sometimes forming diagonal lines. Most adult weakfish range from 12 to 18 inches but can grow up to to 3 feet long and weigh 4-18 pounds. Weakfish are members of the drum family, which includes spot, red drum, back drum and Atlantic croaker. This family of fish make a drumming or croaking sound by vibrating its swim bladder using special muscles.

Surf fishing tips, techniques, rods, reels, rigs, tackle, baits, lures, and more.

Off Road Vehicle (ORV) Management

Off-road vehicle (ORV) management has become an issue of concern in many National Park Service (NPS) seashore parks in recent years. American beaches are used for commercial and recreational fishing, sightseeing, travel to and from swimming and surfing areas, and pleasure driving.

The NPS recognizes ORVs must be regulated in a manner that is not only consistent with applicable law, but also appropriately addresses resource protection (including threatened, endangered, and other sensitive species) and potential conflicts among the various users.

Executive Order #11644 of 1972 requires that all federal land management agencies designate areas for ORV use and that the use of ORVs on public lands "will be controlled and directed so as to protect the resources of those lands, to promote the safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize conflicts among the various users of those lands."

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