When choosing a place to fish, especially along the beach, the two most important concerns are weather and tide. The time of day does strongly influence the behavior of shallow water fish, but the weather also has to be suitable for humans. The standard angler fails by putting more effort into being comfortable then going where the fish are. Catching fish means following fish habits, and there are three questions to ask:
Are the fish likely to be present? Is the tide suitable for the species? Is the weather suitable for both fish and humans?
Looking at Surf, Tide, and Swell
The ocean is vast and awesome, and it is beautiful to look at it while fishing. Waves and related patterns are affected by weather that happens thousands of miles away. Waves follow patterns, and an old fishing proverb says that every seventh wave is larger.
Wave patterns are important to fishers because waves shape the environment of the beach. Fish have simple brains and are attuned to patterns. They respond to tide and also changing winds that affect the ripples of waves. Fish instinctively know when conditions favor feeding. This is not knowledge but a gut reaction to changing wave patterns. Entire species follow patterns.
Why Fish Move Around
Many fishers are angry that the fish are not biting. They could just be trying to go fishing at low tide. Calm waters might also slow down feeding behavior because the food is not churned up. Fish start feeding whenever prey becomes disoriented or dislodged from their resting places. Some species might be more active during windy weather, high tides, or at night.
High tide is an opportunity for many fish because they can travel farther up the coast and eat critters that are otherwise on dry land at other times. The tide moves in like a running river and uncovers some of the prey. They retreat with the tide because it becomes too shallow for many species.
More powerful tides are also signals for more aggressive or seasonal behavior. Spring tides are generally considered the strongest while the neap tide is the weakest. If a fisher is willing to jump at the highest tides, that person can capture some really good fishing because of the unique feeding opportunity for fish. Low tides do not change the food supply as much.
The best places to fish have the sore facing the wind. The period following a gale can offer some great fishing. Not only are the waves stronger, but the storm was also very strong and churned up a lot of prey. Since small critters are more easily hurt by churning sand and water, there is more food and more fish feeding. Since some fish are willing to eat dead prey, smelly bait works well right after a storm.
Finding the Best Spots on The Beach
The color of the water is a great indicator of a good beach for fishing. If the surf has been very active, the water will be brown or grey. There is a lot of up churned silt in the water that takes a long time to settle back into the soil. Cloudy water provides sunblock for fish with sensitive eyes and is also an indicator of available food. In spite of this, nighttime fish prefer clear water at night because it is the only time they can feed.
Fish prefer to congregate where there is food, shelter, or a good resting spot. Certain areas will be packed with fish while others will others will have nothing. It takes time and study to know where to set a line. Not every place with water has fish, so it pays to know what is a waste of time. Ask local fishers, look at a map, and understand the habits of each species.
Tailor and Salmon, for example, prefer cruising in the shallows and love the surf. Species such as Snapper do not venture into the shallows and so are never caught along the coast. The surf is irrelevant to species that prefer somewhat deeper water. Fish such as Whiting, Bream, and Flathead like browsing through upturned water for food.
Some Great Tips When Visiting a Fishing Resort
Tide tables are easiest to find on the internet. Taking a peek before a fishing trip can provide important clues about where to find game fish.
Fishing in the surf is about timing. The largest waves in a series tend to dislodge food buried in the sand and carry it out to deeper water where fish might be lurking try casting between waves soon after.
Look for patches of brown water. The surf affects certain areas more than others. If a place looks like a river channel, it is being dug by the surf. There is more erosion here and also more potential to find feeding fish. Looking for brown spots is not a guarantee of finding fish, but landing a big fish takes quite a bit of hunting.
Sea creatures tend to larger than freshwater fish, and even the babies can be surprisingly large.
Figure out which species hunt by sight and which browse by scent. Bottom dwellers prefer smelly bait, while other fish prefer lures that mimic struggling prey.