Reading the beach before you begin to fish can mean the difference between catching fish or catching a sun tan. When you first arrive on the beach, stop and look around. Watch for water movement, color changes and wave size. The best place to fish is in the slough or out-flow areas. This is were the fish will be feeding on sea fleas, small fish or other prey.
The key for success on the surf is to look for the signs. It is important to keep in mind that signs present now can change by the hour or day. So a consistent review of conditions is imperative for success.
When hitting the beach for the first time, anglers should first focus on the entire picture. Look at everything but mainly focus on the surf zone. Specifically sand formations and waves are a good spot to start.
Flat sand beaches can indicate shallow water. On the beach where the sand tapers from a flat surface into the water will indicate a gradual slope. This area will be shallow for some distance.
Some sand formations that include cusps or small hills could indicate a greater slope and deeper water. The deeper water close to shore is better at holding for fish.
Wave action will also give out specific signs. Normally waves form off shore and travel a good distance in and break on the surf. This is a sign that the bottom has a gradual slope for most of the wave set.
The best condition is when the waves break off shore on a bar, taper off and then re-form and break again on the shore. This is a good indication of a slough. Sloughs form between a sand bar and a steep sloping beach. The slough is where most of the fish will be found.
A slough is a channel of moving water that flows parallel along the beach and provides a highway for fish to find food and protection from other prey. This is the best place to find fish.
The final sign is a rip current. A rip current is a rapid outflow channel or river of water. This happens when the waves push too much water onto the beach and there needs to be a way for the excess of water to flow back out to sea. They are easy to spot, Just look for the rapid out flow current.
So when looking for the best place to fish on the surf, focus on the sloughs, deeper water and rip currents.
Remember most fish are within ten feet of the sand.