The Hook Up

Fifth in a Series – The hook up when fishing from the surf can be tricky. There are several key steps that the new angler should keep in mind when fishing from the surf.

It’s all about your sense of touch. When fishing the surf, wave movement and debris can mimic a fish bite. Water movement can pull your bait along as can grass or other debris and sometimes this debris or current can simulate a bump or even a bite.

A bite is a distinct single or repeated “bump bump bump”. It could even be a slight pull and pause then pull again. The ability to distinguish between something floating by and a bump and bite can take time but it’s a lesson well learned.

If you can’t tell if it’s a bite or not, leave the line in the water for several minutes and then check your hook and bait.

Setting the hook is the next important part of the catch. And setting the hook improperly can mean the difference of catching or losing the fish. There are many different ways to set the hook. And regardless of your experience level, you need to learn which works for the fish you’re after.

There are two common types of hooks used for surf fishing: “J” hooks and “circle” hooks.

If you are using “J” hooks, you must give a firm pull on the line to pull the hook through the fish lip. Pull too soft, they may spit the hook after they strip the bait, pull too hard, you pull the hook and bait away before they can suck it in.

The best bet for new anglers is to use “circle hooks”. These hooks do all the work for you and the fish actually hooks themselves. (see picture – I am using a circle hook)

Remember, for some fish a heavy pull up on the rod sets the hook: for others, a hard pull yanks the bait from the fish’s mouth.

Next we will discuss the retrieval of a hooked up fish.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

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