Saltwater fishing can be tricky since there are so many different types of saltwater fish and a number of saltwater fishing techniques. A lot of Saltwater fishing is specific to the fish you are looking to catch and the local area. Implementing different strategies can be a challenge for both seasoned anglers and beginner saltwater fishing students, but a few tips will get you headed in the right direction.
Learn more about saltwater fishing, where to saltwater fish, the best times to fish, the best saltwater fishing gear and a few expert tips on fishing techniques.
First Things First
Make sure to have a valid saltwater fishing license. You can buy or renew your saltwater fishing license either online or by phone.
Understanding Tidal Currents
Understanding tidal currents and how they affect the areas you fish is critical because the movement of water does not always precisely follow high and low tides. In many spots, especially inlets and channel entrances, the tidal current may lag the actual tide by an hour or more. In areas like this, fish often respond more to the direction and speed of water movement than to the actual height of the tide. But in open water, the height of the tide can be most important.
Buy What You Need, Toss the Old Stuff
Fish bite best on lures that look new and bright. Buy only lures you know you will need, and buy just enough to last a few trips. Rinse used lures and dry them before returning them to the tackle box. Most lures work better if attached to the line or leader with a loop knot. This allows a more natural action for bait as well.
Make Sure Your Line is Strong
Take Care of Your Gear
Before storing a reel for any length of time, soak it in a bucket of freshwater for several hours to get all of the saltwater out of the line and the interior corners of the reel. And make sure to lubricate a new reel to make sure no critical areas were overlooked at the factory. Lube it again at the end of the fishing season or every six months if you fish throughout the year. Always use light oil in those areas where grease is not required.
Set The Hook and Wait a Second
Many anglers set the hook before the fish has the bait or lure well inside its mouth. Better to wait an extra second or two if you cannot see the fish, or wait until you actually see the bait or lure disappear inside the fish’s mouth. A good way to time this is to wait until you feel a lot of pressure on the line from the fish.
Use Your Local Marine Charts
You’ll find fish in places where food is readily available. The mouth of a creek, channel, inlet, or an estuary during falling tide are all prime examples. Marine charts and maps are indispensable for locating such potential hotspots.
Use The Right Bait
Live bait stays in top condition longer if kept in a well with good circulation. Incoming water is always best, but if that’s not possible, use an aerator. Warm water cannot hold as much oxygen as cool, so the temperature is critical. In an aerated, non-circulating system, the water must be changed every few hours to remove waste material that replaces oxygen in the water. Chumming requires three ingredients: fresh or fresh-frozen material, a current to carry it, and judicious use. The idea is to create a line of food that draws fish from far away. Toss in too much food over a short period of time, and the fish may hang too far back and simply enjoy a free lunch. Too little may not move them at all. Start slowly and gradually increase until you get results.
Catch & Release
Hook sizes and shapes are critical with all types of bait. Circle hooks, for instance, are popular because they very rarely hook fish in the throat, and their hook rate is as good or better than the conventional J-hook. Treble hooks are a poor choice for bait fishing since they are easily swallowed and do far more damage than when attached to a lure. Any fish that escapes with a treble hook in the throat is a dead fish. When returning a fish to the water, a fish that appears tired and lethargic needs some help. If you simply toss it back in the water, it will likely sink and die. Moving it back and forth in still water or facing it upstream in current will get its respiratory system back in operation a lot faster. Wait until you can feel the fish beginning to move on its own before letting it go.
Want More Tips?
The Southern Surfcaster: Saltwater Strategies for the Carolina Beaches & Beyond
Article information gathered from FieldandStream.com