A Guide to Saltwater Fishing

saltwater fishing guide

Fishing is an activity that has lived through time and generations, both small scale and large scale.

People fish for different reasons, including for sport, as a job, for study. Wherever there is a water body, you are likely to find people rowing around for fish. As much as freshwaters have several fish species, saltwater provides an enormous and unique fish species that anglers and researchers enjoy catching.

Saltwater fishing is an enjoyable and exciting activity that involves catching fish from ocean bodies, whether as a simple pier activity or using large vessels. The oceans present a vast species’ choice in a more challenging environment that experienced and beginner anglers get hooked. Because of the different saltwater fishing presents from freshwater fishing, the skills and equipment required are also different.

You need to know several things about saltwater fishing before you head out to make it a hobby or a source of livelihood. In this guide, we will discuss the following know-how of saltwater fishing.

Regulation and Licenses

Before you embark on a fishing excursion, you must obtain licenses from the local regulatory agency.

In the United States, to fish, you require a license from the state agencies. These licenses vary depending on age, fish types, the number of people, among other factors. Some fish are endangered; thus, licenses for such species are restricted.

Heading out to the regulatory agencies will enable you to get all the answers you need before heading out to the waters. Although some public fishing piers require a fee and not a license., it is always better to be prepared and carry a permit if you have one.

The officials will tell you which areas are open, which fish are in season, and which gear is appropriate. Local wildlife and fish agencies readily provide you with the information and permits you need.

Types of Saltwater Fishing

There are several types of fishing and destinations you can choose from when it comes to saltwater fishing.

Whether you want to cast off your rod or venture into the deep blue waters in a canoe to move with the waves, you will still experience the exhilarating joy of pulling in big or small fish. The type of saltwater fishing depends on the kind of fish you want to catch. Here are some common types to guide you.

Deep-Sea Fishing

Deep-Sea Fishing involves any form of fishing that takes you into the open ocean away from the shoreline.

deep sea fishing

This type of fishing relies on weather predictions and nautical charts for safe expeditions. Deep-sea fishing is perfect for you when you want to experience a challenge and adrenaline rush that comes with tackling big game fish against massive waves.

Styles of Deep Sea Fishing

  • Trolling: This involves the slow movement of fishing boats to keep the bait in visible motion to attract fish. Hopefully, the fish take the bait and hook. Most saltwater fishing techniques employ trolling components for boats in the water.
  • Chumming: This fishing style involves throwing bloody fish components in the water to lure big carnivorous fish like sharks near the boat to hook them.
  • Pot fishing: This style is typical in catching shellfish by placing these traps in certain areas for hours or days. These will be hauled into the boat to remove the catch.
  • Kite Fishing: This style that dates to China involves using kites to maintain the bait moving closer o the surface. It is meant to catch surface-feeding fish like Tuna.
  • Spear Fishing: It is one of the fishing styles that do not involve the use of boats. It is popular with diver and snorkelers who aim for big, slow-moving fish. The spear has a razor-sharp end that pierces into fish that most probably end up in dinner plates. Spearfishing is popular in Florida, United States.
  • Fly fishing: This is the most popular fishing style involving a rod and reel while standing on a surf. It works well in coastline waters, and the target is fish species like the flounder.

Tidal currents are essential when you go deep-sea fishing. Paying attention to tides will make the difference in the quality and quantity of your catch. An excellent recommendation is to arrive an hour early before high tide and begin your session, and you will have better chances of catching more fish until you are some hours into high tide

As you study the current, know the right spots for deep-sea fishing. You will want to aim for areas that have a water depth of 100+ feet. This depth means you will need to be about 50-100 miles away from the shore to meet big game fish like tuna and sharks.

The vessels you use should also be big enough to sustain the load you carry and stable among the waves. Most anglers prefer boats with two engines, especially when they go further into the ocean. If you are a new saltwater fishing enthusiast, you will probably go on a chartered boat with a group of experienced fishing experts and a boat captain.

Since the open ocean waters are vast, getting a GPS or fishfinder within your vessel helps lead you to some fertile grounds.

Some ripe deep-sea fishing hot spots include:

  • Reefs, Rocks, and Wrecks.
  • Towers and Navigational Aids.
  • Hills and Sea Mounts.
  • Kelp forests and beds.
  • Canyons and the continental shelf.
  • The open ocean
  • Rocky seafloor
  • Coastal waters

As much as the above resources are rich with different types of fish, you will need to be patient before seeing some progress. It could take a while before you get movement on your line, but once a fish is hooked, landing it is an exhilarating experience.

Deep-sea fishing, unlike inshore, has common seasickness cases. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, it’s crucial to avoid any sea sickness triggers while out in the waters. Pressure point bands, over the counter medications, and ginger drinks, are some simple remedies to prevent seasickness. Also, avoid going out in heavy rain or under the hot sun and instead aim for cloudy days or early morning or evening.

Surf Fishing

Surf Fishing is a simple saltwater fishing practice that involves standing on the shoreline or wading into the surf with your hook.

beach surf saltwater fishing

It is a great starting point for a beginner, and there is a variety of fish you can catch using this method. Surf fishing can give a catch of most saltwater fish without the challenge of getting into deep waters.

It would help if you had your rod to be about 12-15 feet long and a 20-25-pound test line for surf fishing. You can combine the rod with a large saltwater spinning reel for the best results.

For surf fishing baits, you can use shrimps, squid, or mullet. Be careful with shrimp, though, as they can easily be pulled off the hook. Mullet and squid last longer but do not attract as many fish as shrimps do.

Backwater and Flats Fishing

Backwater and Flats fishing is a type of inshore fishing that lets you enjoy the challenge of game fish like Tarpon while riding a kayak and flatboats.

The best result occurs in water that in 2feet or less, particularly where crabs habituate. These inshore locations are comfortable for someone who is just getting into saltwater fishing or an intermediate level angler.

You can find a variety of fish species during backwater and flat fishing, including Spotted Sea Trout. For this inshore fishing, go with a 6-7 feet medium-duty saltwater fishing rod combined with a spinning reel. Also, use a 15-pound test line for good results.

Bay Fishing

Bays are large coastal bodies of water that connect to a main body of water. For anglers looking to find sport fish, crustacea, and baitfish, bay fishing is ideal.

Pier Fishing

Pier Fishing offers a hassle-free and straightforward activity when you do not want to ride on boats or wade through water. Pier fishing does not require a lot of gear compared to backwater fishing. It is also not dependent on weather conditions, but you do need to study tidal movements. Research on tides around the target pier to understand which times fish tend to move closer to the pier and your likelihood to have a good harvest.

For Pier fishing, a 6-9 feet heavy action spinning rod is perfect for the job. Accompany this with a 20-pound test line and a pier graff to help you pull in your catch. For bait, live ones like shrimps, blood worms, and squid are preferable. For certain fish species with a specific preference, you can always ask around to know which bait to use.

Saltwater Fishing Gear

Your fishing gear can make or break your fishing expedition.

Therefore, it is vital to have the correct gear to make things easier for you. You can always speak with an expert in the field for advice to buy appropriate equipment.

Here are some of the equipment you will need:

Rod and Reels

Fishing rods and Reels are the necessary equipment that even first-time fishers will require. In saltwater fishing, the rods and reels are not like those used in freshwater fishing. Choosing the best saltwater rods and reels depends on where you want to fish, the type of fish you are looking to catch, and the equipment you will use to reel in the fish.

How then do you pick the best rods for saltwater fishing?

There are three commonly used rod materials:

  • Fiberglass
  • Graphite
  • Composite

Fiberglass is tried and tested and has proven itself a strong and durable material for saltwater fishing rods. It can withstand the rough hit on boats and high seas. The only disadvantage is the weight, which makes it hard for anglers to notice subtle strikes.

Graphite is best for lighter blanks and smaller diameters, which quickly detect subtle pickups and strikes. Graphite rods will let you experience the rush of fighting antics with different game fish. However, graphite is brittle and wakens under the continuous banging on boats.

New-Generation Composite is a formulation of both fiberglass and graphite, providing the experience of strength and lightweight designs for subtle picks. These new formulations give top quality rods rated for up to 200 pounds within the size of a 15-20-pound spinning rod.

  • The Action: The action of a rod is determined by how far the blank’s bend extends. Rods with fast to extra-fast action are best for bigger baits in solid hooksets for catching large fish. Medium action rods are great for smaller live baits and lures for extended casting distance. The actions of a rod determine how it excels in different situations.
  • Power factor: Rod power simply the powerfulness of the blank based on line-strengths. For anglers targeting big fish like marlin, tuna, and swordfish, rods of 80-130-pound test line strengths work well. On the other hand, rods with a power of about 8 pounds are great for targeting small game like mackerels and seatrouts.
  • Length: Longer rods generally increase casting distance. But the action and power factors combine with the strength of the line to give you an excellent casting experience. The length of your rod will depend on your power needs and casting distance. Shorter rods give you more leverage and faster action for 50-100-pound lines.

Best Saltwater Fishing Rods

In general, the best fishing rods that can handle the load of the fishing task you are on give you maximum control and extended durability.

If you are looking to tango with some large game fish, then you will need a stronger rod with a powerful line. High-speed fishing reels work so well with fast baits. However, if you encounter powerful fish that put on a fight, then low-speed reels are a great option.

The combination of factors to get the perfect rod for your expedition can be somewhat challenging.

It would be best to match the reel to your rods line weight with the length and action factors in mind. Also, the best rods are the ones that use new generation composite materials because they give your strength and lightweight.

Best Saltwater Fishing Bait

Saltwater fishing bait largely depends on how your target fish feeds.

Fish will be attracted to scent, sound, and movement. The fishing method will also guide you on which bait to use, whether live or artificial.

You can always ask locals what works best and experiment until you find your pitch.

Some examples of commonly used bait are:

What Gear Do You Need for Saltwater Fishing?

Once you have chosen your fishing destination, gathering the fishing gear is equally important. Some of the essential tools apart from the rods and reels are as below.

  • Gaff and nets to help you land the fish. If you are fishing for catch and release, these tools make it safer.
  • Pliers and scissors to cut the wire and remove hooks.
  • Fishing knives for cutting bait and cleaning fish (if you are not catching and releasing).
  • Boots and rain jackets to stay dry and protected.
  • Sunscreen and sun protection clothing.
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays.
  • Life jackets and a first aid kit.

Advice for Saltwater Fishing

When you are starting ocean fishing, there are things that you need to keep in mind to have the best experience. Following these tips could make the difference in your subsequent fishing trips.

  • Please speak with the locals as they have tons of knowledge about the fish species in the area, which baits work, the best times to fish, and any other valuable knowledge to help you on your expedition.
  • Prepare proper storage for the fish species you are going to catch. You do not want to get back to land with a spoiled catch.
  • Learn the tides and moon phase, especially when you are ocean fishing.
  • Try fishing early in the morning or late evening; most saltwater fish are plenty in these times.
  • Keep your gear clean. Saltwater tends to erode fishing gear; therefore, it is best to wash your tools with fresh water immediately after you finish your expedition.
  • Follow the lead of your charter leader if you are fishing in a group.

Saltwater fishing is enjoyable and full of learning experiences if you do it right. Take time to understand your destination and ask as many questions as possible to locals before you set with your rod and reels.

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