Best Surf Fishing Gear

Berkley Fishing Cart
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Coleman Oversized Quad Chair with Cooler
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Ugly Stik Saltwater Spinning Combo
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Shakespeare Catch More Fish Surf/Pier
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Berkley BTPGP8-8IN Precision GripPlier 8-Inch
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Berkley Gulp! Alive! 3 Shrimp Assortment
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How to Surf Fish for Beginners

Fishing from the beach is one of the best family fishing adventures in Southern California. When I am surf fishing, people will always walk up to me and ask, “Do you catch anything here ?” I always point to the over-sized bucket surrounded by kids. Swimming inside are fish ranging from perch to leopard sharks. The adults always gasp as my 6-year-old granddaughter picks up a sand shark out of the bucket to show them. With hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, shore fishing in Southern California is a great way to catch fish. The problem is that most people don’t know how. In this post we will show you the best way to surf fish in So Cal, the gear you will need, and the best baits to use.


Where to Go

Any sandy beach from the Silver Strand near the Mexico border to San Francisco Bay will work. The key is access and not too many swimmers/surfers (they don’t appreciate getting hooked). I like to fish Long Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach. Down south Carlsbad, Torrey Pines, Mission Beach are all great. To the north, Manhattan and Torrance beaches kick out big fish all year and it doesn’t get much better than Malibu. Pismo Beach, Oceano Dunes, and Morro Bay in the Central Coast produce well and northern beaches like those near Pacifica can deliver giant Striped Bass. Basically, any state beach in California can be a good spot to cast a line.

What you will Catch

The amazing variety of fish that you can catch in one surf fishing trip is crazy. We have had evenings at Bolsa Chica where we caught over 30 fish of 10 different species in under 3 hours of fishing. The most commonly caught are sharks and rays. Don’t be worried, the sand sharks are very safe, having only sandpaper-like teeth. Extreme caution is required though when dealing with stingrays, they will sting you if they get the chance. On a trip you can expect to catch a mixture of smooth-hound sharks, shovel-nosed sharks, leopard sharks, round stingrays, bat rays, surf perch, smelt, croaker, corbina, sand bass and halibut.  These fish will come in all sizes too. The surf perch and smelt will be half a pound at best while the bat rays can top 100 lbs. Most sharks are between 18 inches and 3 feet. Halibut must be 22 inches long to keep and are delicious table fare.  About 99% of the fish we throw back. Surf perch make great fish tacos but you will need to catch a bunch. Sand bass must be 15 inches long and that is rare from the surf. My best advice is unless it is a large halibut get the fish safely back in the water as soon as possible.


Best Baits

The number one easiest bait for beginners is frozen anchovies. You can get them at any bait and tackle shop and most liquor stores near the beach will have a freezer with frozen bait. Frozen squid, mussels, clams and shrimp work well too. Fresh large shrimp from the market are a good idea, just ask butcher for 3 dollars worth. Live baits like ghost shrimp and bloodworms can be purchased at some bait shops. The ghost shrimp tend to fly off the hook though. Gather your own bait by digging for sand crabs or sand worms. If you have kids fishing with you, they can be kept busy for hours looking for sand crabs. Purchase a sand rake to make the job easier. Berkley Gulp Alive has some amazing surf baits. The sand worms and crabs fish almost as well as live bait and stay on the hook 100 times better. If you want to cast lures while letting the bait soak, try throwing spoons like Krocodiles and Kastmasters. A 3/4 ounce is a good size. Plastic tails on leadheads can also produce well. Try Gulp Alive Jerkbaits or Kalin Mogambos. Just cast out as far as you can and vary the retrieve speed back. This is a great way to catch large halibut.


Surf Gear

First off, surf fishing is not done while riding the waves. Although fishing from stand-up paddle boards is very popular. You will be casting into the waves from the shore. Unlike the East Coast where they cast out 100 yards, out west we only need to get our baits out about 20 yards. There are small troughs or underwater ditches where the waves break that hold all the fish. So if you already have a 12 foot rod use that but I recommend a medium-heavy 7-8 foot rod rated for 20 lb test with medium action. That is a fancy way of saying a strong yet flexible fishing pole. Do not spend too much on a surf fishing reel as the saltwater and sand will shorten the life span of any reel. I love Big Game Fishing Line in 10 lb test. I have landed many big fish between 20 and 50 lbs on it and feel there is none better. If you are into the braided lines , great, but I don’t see the need to spend more and prefer the stretchability off monofilament.      

As far as tackle, 3 ounce pyramids sinkers and number 1 snelled (pre-tied) hooks are all you really need along with frozen anchovies. Some #4 hook packs are good for sand crabs and bloodworms. A cheap bait knife, cheap needle-nosed pliers, and a 5 gallon bucket to carry it all in. Sea Striker makes some great sand spikes, rod holders, or make your own with PVC pipes. Something tall to help keep your line above the crashing waves. A comfortable beach chair and maybe a battery lantern for night fishing will round out your gear. If you want the ultimate in fishing convenience, check out the Sea Striker Fishing Cart, I love mine as I can get all my gear from the parking lot to the shore in one organized trip.


So there you have it. Everything you need to get started surf fishing at any beach in California. Check our gear list HERE . Please subscribe so you don’t miss out on our informative articles.  “Cast away your troubles, just go fishing.” 



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Where to Camp in Southern California: Lake Skinner

Lake Skinner may be the best place to camp with your family in Southern California. Large, clean campsites, fishing, hiking, hot air ballooning and wine tasting all within a 90 minute drive from anywhere in So Cal. Located near the Temecula Wine Country, Lake Skinner promises fun and relaxation for the whole family in a park-like setting. Spend the day catfish fishing and the evening making s’mores and playing Bocce Ball. Enjoy all the camping world has to offer near Temecula. There are rental boats, pontoons and kayaks, a soon to be completed splash pad, miles of biking trails and a fully stocked camp store. Dogs are allowed. This is a great camping destination that is close to home. Continue reading “Where to Camp in Southern California: Lake Skinner”

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Where to Fish in Southern California: Alamitos Bay

Want to catch plenty of fish in a beautiful setting? Well try Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, CA . Halibut, corbina, bass, perch sharks and rays are all waiting to be caught off the sandy beaches and rocky jetties of the bay. No need for heavy tackle as 6-10 lb test line is all you need. Sit in a beach chair waiting for a big one to take your bait or drift near the docks from a float tube , kayak or even paddle board.  This is a great way to introduce kids to the sport of fishing or just enjoy an early morning casting by yourself.  Calm waters mean no sea sickness or getting soaked by crashing waves. So come on down to Long Beach and enjoy some Alamitos Bay fishing. Continue reading “Where to Fish in Southern California: Alamitos Bay”

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Where to Fish in Southern California: Dixon Lake

Where is the best place to fish near San Diego? Well it is hard to beat Dixon Lake in Escondido. A beautiful park-like setting that includes camping and miles of hiking trails, not to mention some seriously huge fish.  Bass up to 20 lbs and trout over 16 lbs swim along with catfish over 20 lbs. RV and tent campers can stay on the spacious sites surrounding the lake. Just a little over 90 minutes from L.A. and close to almost anywhere in San Diego, Dixon Lake is a great place to take the kids fishing in Southern California. Continue reading “Where to Fish in Southern California: Dixon Lake”

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Where to Go Camping in Southern California: Cachuma Lake

Where is the best family camping place in Southern California? Well for my money it is Cachuma Lake, located off Highway 154 near Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Wine Country.

 Plenty of fish are waiting to be caught in an amazing setting in any season. Enjoy fun outdoor activities with the kids, go wine tasting, hiking or shopping in nearby Solvang.  Nearly 500 campsites for Tents and RVs are available along with glamping options like cabins and yurts. During the summer a pool is ready for swimmers. Boat and pontoon rentals as well as lake and bald eagle tours are available. The Cachuma Lake Store carries camping supplies like  firewood, ice, drinks and fishing tackle. 

Click here to make reservations Continue reading “Where to Go Camping in Southern California: Cachuma Lake”

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Best Hikes in Yosemite Valley

The great thing about  visiting the Yosemite Valley is the close proximity to the many amazing hikes. From your campsite, cabin or room you are only a short shuttle ride to the trail head of your choice.  The best 8 hikes range from an easy 2 hour hike like Mirror Lake to strenuous all day hikes like Half Dome. A few can be done as one entire hike. Make sure you are in good physical condition and do not have an extreme fear of heights and you should be able to complete most of these. The views from these trails will take your breath away and keep you wanting to come back for more.  Be prepared for all of these hikes. Wear the proper boots, layered clothes, have a backpack and plenty of water and snacks. Continue reading “Best Hikes in Yosemite Valley”

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Where to go Sledding in Big Bear

The massive storms we have had this winter have made it hard to get out to fish so I decided if you can’t beat them, join them, and I headed up to my cousin’s cabin in Big Bear. Driving through the snow, we arrived to find over a foot of the white stuff. Not long after unloading the car and greeting everyone, my brother-in-law and I wrangled up the kids and headed over to the sled hill. What a blast! After an hour or so of high speed antics we started to head back to the cabin wet, exhausted, and sporting a few new bruises. Continue reading “Where to go Sledding in Big Bear”

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How to Catch Trout (Lakes)













The secrets to catching trout are pretty simple and easy to learn. Once learned they can basically be repeated at each different lake. Small adjustments can be made in regards to fishing from a boat or shore fishing. Just follow these tips and greatly increase your odds of landing a limit. After you master these skills you can confidently expect to catch fish in any lake they inhabit.  Continue reading “How to Catch Trout (Lakes)”

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Winter Trout Fishing Near Los Angeles











There are plenty of fish waiting to be caught less than 90 minutes from Los Angeles in the High Desert.  Jess Ranch Lakes, Mojave Narrows Regional Park, and Hesperia Lake Park, which are located just over the Cajon Pass, are heavily stocked lakes that provide year-round fishing and family adventure. Hesperia Lake Park and Mojave Narrows also feature lakefront camping that the whole family will enjoy.  Head on up and enjoy the day or the whole weekend. 

Continue reading “Winter Trout Fishing Near Los Angeles”

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