John’s Note: Most beach goers never see the true beauty of the beach because they’re asleep. But at first light the beach becomes a spectacle of God’s paintbrush as He demonstrates the beauty of a new day in the sky on the beach and in the water. And, that’s when the fish bite best.
“There’s a very good reason that I like to be on the beach and set-up at first light,” explains Dustin Hayes of Orange Beach, Alabama. “Those first 2 hours of daylight are when the fish will be most active and easiest to catch.” Hayes works at Top Gun Tackle (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Top-Gun-Tackle/) in Orange Beach, and on a day-to-day basis, he knows what’s biting in the surf at the Gulf State Park Pier and in the back bays. “I take people fishing from the beach as a surf guide,” Hayes says. “I’ve always loved to surf fish, and I’m very confident that I can find the fish and guide people to catch them. Also, I enjoy watching people catch fish from the beach. Once I teach people how to surf fish, then they can come to the beach, bring their rods and reels from home and catch fish, while they’re down here on their own and without a boat.”
One of the secrets to Hayes’ success is that he catches fish in the surf before the fish reach to the cuts, the ditches and the deep holes behind the sandbars. Hayes says, “Fish swimming down the beach have to enter one of these troughs to feed. So, I teach anglers to cast ahead of the troughs to catch the fish coming to feed before the fish reach the trough. Surf fish usually prefer to come into the troughs early in the morning on an incoming tide. I believe that by fishing in front of the holes, ditches and cuts we catch the fish before they move into the troughs for most of the day.”
* a 9’ surf rod and a 4000 size spinning reel;
* 15- 20 pound-test braided line for the main line;
* 15-20 pound-test fluorocarbon line for a leader or 12-15 pound-test fluorocarbon for the leader, if the water’s extremely clear;
* a barrel swivel that prevents line twist to connect the braided main line to the fluorocarbon leader with a barrel swivel;
* an 18-20 inch-long fluorocarbon leader coming off the barrel swivel with a pre-rigged surf-testing rig at the end of the fluorocarbon leader;
* two drop hooks on fluorocarbon line off the main line fluorocarbon leader about 6-8 inches apart and a pyramid sinker at the bottom of the line;
* a size 4 or a size 2 tail hook (Eagle Claw Razor Sharp hooks or Owner Insure/Slam hooks) that will set itself; and
* a small piece of dead shrimp and a Small Fish Bite for baits. “Fish Bites (http://fishbites.com/) are commercially-prepared baits that have Kevlar in them and come in a wide variety of scents,” Hayes reports. “I prefer the shrimp scent. You can use the Fish Bites by themselves or in combo with dead shrimp. I prefer to peel and put a small piece of dead shrimp on the hook and then place a little piece of shrimp bite behind the shrimp. The Fish Bite not only helps the fish find the bait by seeing it, because it’s a bright red color, but also the fish can smell it. I also use sand fleas quite a bit when I’m fishing in the surf.”
* Unfair Lures (http://www.unfairlures.com/) Rip-N-Slash that comes in two sizes: 70 and 90. You can purchase the floating lure, the slow-sinking lure or a fast-sinking lure. According to Hayes, “This lure is a subsurface twitch bait that darts from side to side as you twitch it. I like to fish it primarily during that first hour of daylight for redfish and speckled trout. I’ve also caught flounder, ladyfish and bluefish on the Rip & Slash. Black pearl is one of my favorite colors, and the one in the picture is a shad-colored Rip & Slash. These lures will catch just about everything that swims in the Gulf of Mexico, and they have extremely-sharp hooks and come in a wide variety of colors. One of the advantages of the Rip-N-Slash is that the barbs are on the outside of the hook rather than on the inside, which makes hooking much easier. Too, all you have to do is push down on the hook, and the hook comes out of the fish very easily.”
To learn more about saltwater fishing, check out “Alabama’s Inshore Saltwater Fishing: A Year-Round Guide for Catching More Than 15 Species,” “Alabama’s Offshore Saltwater Fishing: A Year-Round Guide for Catching Over 15 Species of Fish,” “Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide,” “How to Fish Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in June” and “13 Saltwater Fish Recipes You Can’t Live Without,” available in Kindle eBooks and some print books. To learn more about hunting and fishing from John E. Phillips’ print and eBooks, go to www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips and www.barnesandnoble.com.
Tomorrow: What You Need for Successful Surf Fishing