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Posted 12th October 2022

How to Go Beach Fishing

How to Go Beach Fishing
How to Go Beach Fishing

By Robert Thornton

If you ask the average Aussie where they last went fishing, a good chunk of them will say the beach. Given that the beach and sand are a part of our cultural identity, it makes sense that beach fishing is how a lot of Aussies prefer to wet a line.

There’s just something so incredibly relaxing about wetting a line in the surf, with foamy water swirling around your feet and the blazing sun balancing on the horizon. Watching that first fish of the day wash up onto the beach triggers something primal in the mind of an angler. It seems that beach fishing puts us in touch with nature in a way that other methods just don’t. Maybe it’s the minimalism, or the proximity to the elements. Maybe it’s just the sense of calm that ocean sounds have on our human brains. Whatever it is, it’s a feeling worth chasing, and if you can drum up a feed of fish while you’re at it, or even just satisfy that angling itch, all the better!

If beach fishing is something you want to get into, or you want to improve your game in the surf, Daiwa’s range of surf specific tackle and accessories are perfectly suited to Australia’s coastline. After that, learning about the surf environment and the species in it will have you well-armed to take up the challenge.

Life’s a Beach

A beach is where land meets water, we all know that. The beaches we’re specifically talking about here, though, are where sand meets the ocean, and where sea swell breaks in shallow water, creating undulations close to shore. It’s around these underwater formations that many fish species spend a lot of their time.

Depressions in the sand and white water on the surface provide cover for both predator and prey, however living in this washing machine of breaking waves and stirred-up sediment means you can’t ever let their guard down if you want to survive. It’s this constant movement that makes the surf zone such a good place to fish, but there’s more to beach fishing than just turning up to any stretch of coastline and chucking in a bait. Reading the beach and finding areas where fish will be feeding is the first step to cracking the code.

Finding Fishable Water

The main challenge of beach fishing is in finding suitable areas to do it. Saxon Lette lives in the NSW central coast region, and always spends time finding good areas to target before wetting a line.

“A beach is kind of like a desert,” Saxon says, “most open beaches don’t have reef – they might have a headland or sand formations here and there – but they’re generally quite barren.”

Because of this, it’s important to find good habitat, and when you do there can be lots of life, just like in a desert.

“You want to be looking at how close to shore the waves are breaking, if there’s deep water close to shore, and if there’s sand banks around it,” he says.

“You definitely want to be trying to find whitewash that’s sitting close to deeper holes.”

These “deeper holes” might only be a metre or so deep, but they are generally calmer and have waves breaking around them, and are where most fish will be found. They are formed when repeated waves break over a sand bank a short distance out, and the white foamy water continues to roll in, before washing back out to one or both sides. Over time the action of the water washing back to the side will form what’s known as a ‘beach gutter’, and these can be real hives of activity. The nice thing about gutters is that often, they form very close to shore!

“I’d say 99% of the fish you’re after will be at your feet,” Saxon says, “I often see people casting out way too far.”

“You really can’t go wrong if you cast into the whitewash in or near a slightly deeper hole.”

Beach Fishing Baits and Tackle

Fishing in such a unique environment demands the use of specific tackle, but don’t worry – beach fishing tackle doesn’t have to strip you of your savings, and you don’t need a lot of it.

“For general bread and butter species like bream, whiting, dart and flathead, a light 9-10ft rod would be perfect,” Saxon explains, “and a 3000-5000 sized reel with 10lb braid and 10lb leader is my go-to.”

 Saxon’s choice in the surf is Daiwa’s 21 Over There 109ML rod matched with a 21 Saltist MQ reel, usually between 3000-5000 size. This combo is an effective tool for both bait fishing and lure casting.

Long rods are a standard feature of beach fishing, and there’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, there are occasions where a longer cast is necessary to get into the action, but secondly (and more importantly), you want to be able to keep your line at a higher angle. A higher angle allows you to hold your line out of the waves, and will prevent your rig from washing into shore. Additionally, long, soft rods are fantastic for keeping small hooks in fish, as they provide good shock absorbance during the fight.

Saxon likes to keep his bait rigs simple, and a running ball sinker rig with a swivel is a great choice in the turbulence of the waves. Ball sinkers allows the bait to be rocked around gently so that it appears more natural. Hooks with a small gape and long shank are good for smaller-mouthed targets like bream, whiting and dart. For these smaller species, there’s no need to go any bigger than 1/0 with your hook size.

“Fresh bait is always going to be the best,” Saxon says, “beachworms are probably the pick in my area, followed by pieces of squid.”

“Pilchards also work fine ­– whole or in pieces,” he continues, “Pipis are another great bait, but you should check your local regulations around any baits you collect locally.”

The nice thing about all these baits is that they are available at tackle stores, so even if you’re strapped for time or you aren’t confident in collecting your own bait, there’s always options for you.

“You can use anything really,” Saxon says, “but again, fresh is always best.”

Lures in the Surf

Spinning with lures is another relaxing and highly entertaining way to fish the surf. Anyone with a short attention span (like me) will love spinning in the surf, as it’s a really active and searching style of fishing.

“These same areas are good for a bit of light spinning,” Saxon explains, “You can chase bream, whiting, flathead, dart and jew using normal estuary tackle.”

Daiwa’s Infeet EX Spin series with any 2000-3000 size reel are perfect for if you wish to work little Bait Junkie Minnows and Grubs, or even Infeet Rollin’ Cranks through the gutters. Super light braid and leaders both around 6-8lb are all that’s needed. Fishing these lures much like you would in the estuaries will catch you plenty of fish, and by moving from gutter to gutter, you’ll be able to cover lots of water and find the most productive areas.

If you wish to target the pelagic species such as salmon, tailor and trevally that often harass bait beyond the breakers, you may need to change your approach a little bit. Given that you’ll need to make longer casts consistently, the Over There and Saltist MQ combo Saxon uses for his bait fishing is the perfect tool. In fact, the Over There series was designed for this style of fishing! Upgrading to the 109MH, 110H, or even 110XH models of Over There rods might be necessary if you’re throwing larger lures.

Soft plastics, topwater lures and metals slices are excellent searching baits for spinning the surf, and you can’t go wrong with a Bait Junkie 5” Jerkshad, Shore Spartan Power Splash and Shore Spartan Break Through to cover these bases respectively.

With these heavier lures, it makes sense to upgrade your line to 10-20lb braid and leader material, because these beach-going pelagics can take a little more than gentle persuasion to bring back through the breakers!

Beach Fishing Accessories

With this being a land-based activity, there’s a few accessories that will make beach fishing much more comfortable.

“If you’re bait fishing, a bait bucket that clips around your waist is really, really handy,” Saxon says. These personal bait buckets are popular because they negate the need to keep walking back to a traditional bucket that would need to be positioned out of the wash zone. With a good supply of bait in a bucket around your waist, you won’t need to keep walking back and forth and cutting into valuable fishing time, especially when the bite is hot.

“Some sort of rod holder is great if you’re bait fishing, and this can just be a bit of PVC tube stuck into the sand,” he continues, “you’ll need to set your rod down at times – for re-rigging and unhooking fish – and you don’t want it sitting in the wet sand.”

Daiwa’s Fishing Belt is another useful piece of kit, particularly for those spinning with lures. This product allows an angler to rest their rod in the bucket at the front and will also hold pliers as well as other accessories.

“A pair of waders is a good idea for the cooler months,” Saxon says, “especially down here where it can get pretty cold!

Surf's Up

Ducking down to a beach and catching a few fish is easier than you might think, and a common misconception about beach fishing is that you need a vehicle. Of course, having a four-wheel drive will allow you to cover more ground in search of a good gutter, but it’s worth remembering that good gutters can pop up anywhere! Many beaches also don’t allow 4WD traffic.

“I reckon 90% of time I don’t drive,” Saxon says, “I just fish around local swimming areas!”

Provided you’re careful not to fish around any actual swimmers, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good session in populated areas.

“Any beach will hold fish,” he continues, “everyone can do it.”

Anglers can find suitable beaches for fishing literally all around the country, and the only way to find the fish-rich areas along them is to get out and start looking! This turbulent environment always manages to change over time, so even visiting the same stretch of beach for years will feel like you’re fishing a different spot every time.

Find your inner angling Zen and get down to your local beach. You may pleasantly surprised with what you find!





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