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Old 05-22-2015, 05:40 AM   #1
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Exclamation PLEASE Help This Aspiring Surfn Fisherman?

Hello Y'all,


SHORT VERSION AT BOTTOM!
Every year for as long as I've lived my extended family goes to a place just east of San Destin for a week of family reunion and beach fun. This year we go on May 28.
I have tried surf fishing the past two years, with pretty pathetic results. I have the proper rods and reels (a 'big' spinner; a spinner; a baitcaster), but it's my 'terminal tackle,' technique (surely the #1 problem) and no doubt a whole host of factors. What I've tried in the past is a top and bottom rig (unsure of name; its where there's a weight at the end and two hooks suspended off the main line a ways up from the sinker). What most often happens here is little fish gibble up the bait, which is frozen shrimp or squid. I'd like to use sand fleas, and as a kid I remember they were as common as the sand they hid in. I've not seen one for years. Anyway, how might I stop these thieving little fish? Is there a better rig I might be using? Better bait? Some lost colony of sand fleas? Or even frozen sand fleas (Bass Pro doesn't have them)?
I also use a popping cork (a transparent half-water filled easter egg with a treble hook about 18" behind it. It is 'baited' with a piece of a McDonalds straw and does catch fish - but only small, very close to shore types. Still, it's fun to do while I feed the other little fish from my two larger poles that have been cast out and set.
I've tried other lures, especially pompano jigs, but with exactly ZERO success - on the pompano jigs, spoons or any other lure I've tried. This HAS to be due to my technique. No question. So here is where I need y'all's help the most. How (where) should I cast and most important how do I retrieve/reel it in? Any lures or etc y'all recommend? I'd be very grateful for recommendations.
What I don't bring with me I get from the Bass Pro in Destin which I'm sure is nearly identical to the stuff sold for/in Pensacola. If they've something I should have, please tell me.
I'd like to catch literally anything, excepting sharks, so long as it had some size to it and gave a decent fight. Pompano is what I'd really like to catch, though. I'm strictly catch and release, so you can catch them later (I would cook them up but with approx. 40 family members to feed I'd have to be the world's best surf fisherman!).
I am going to try something new this year. I'm going to catch one of those little guys with my drinking straw, hook him to a larger hook and cast him out to swim around and hopefully catch the eye of his older & bigger cousin. I only know very basic info on how this is done. Either hook him above his midline behing his top fin, the same but UNDER the middle line or through the nose. Assuming these are the correct methods to hook him, how should I fish him? My new reel, bought just last week, is: Okuma Avenger ABF40 which is supposed to allow live bait to swim freely without opening the bail. This is about where my information on fishing a live fish stops. How far do I cast him? Is there a special way to cast with a live fish on the end? Both God and I will love you if you'll take me through it step by step!
Information on all tackle and techniques is needed. I'd be (VERY pleasantly) surprised if one or some of you all wrote out complete advice sets, but if each of you will help me with something then eventually I'll get to the point where I can actually catch a fish worthy of a picture. In my two combined weeks I have caught only ONE fish that MIGHT have rated a picture. A Schoolmaster Snapper, just over 9 inches. Hardly worth anything. And believe me, I fished every day often for hours. I tried going an hour before dawn and going at night. Nothing but those obnoxious little fish - though to be fair to them not a few were as big as my snapper. I am unsure as to their various species, knowing only two - needlefish and ladyfish; both possibly the smallest of their species ever to be caught with at least a little regularity. The ladyfish are fun but disappointing because when I hook one I think I've finally gotten a 'real' fish, until I land the pathetic little guy. The other species are, to me anyway, nameless.
On bit of advice I found was to use a special type of spoon (unnamed) and reel it some and then let it sink to disturb the sand in order to mimic a sand flea or whatever. Any idea what product he was talking about?
Another thing, is there ANY way to keep your top/bottom rig from drifting in through what I'm guessing is wave action. I've used massive pyramid weights and even tried this unusual spider looking sinker. They help, but it's always driven in.
Before I fiorget, what type and weight of line? I've been advised fluorocarbon as your water is so clear - so OK, I'll use it. But pound test? What I've used in the past was a 20# line and a 3-40# leader.
So I'd ask that you'd pitch in with some info on one or more of my questions. I'd be thrilled to death to catch a large gamefish, and since he'd be going right back there'd be no loss to your chances, right?

To sum all this up, I need help with:

-How to reel in lures.
-Which lures?
-WHERE to cast?
-What terminal tackle (top/bottom rig is all I know - there's fishfinder rigs, morticians rigs and I'm sure many more. I don't know them, can learn them on Youtube but should I? What to use?)
-Bait? Are there any sand fleas left at all?
-Line and leader?
-How to hook and present a live fish bait?
-Ending the minnow buffet from my top/bottom rigs?
-Preventing my rig from drifting in?
-Last but far from least, God's help!

Sincere Thanks from Baton Rouge!

Jeremy
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Old 05-22-2015, 09:08 AM   #2
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I'm another week at a timer, but apparently have a lot better luck than you. I use 15-30# braid and most of the time no leader at all, unless I'm shark hunting.

Dump the frozen shrimp unless you just want catfish, the squid is ok. Get some "fresh dead" at the bait shop or go to a local fish market and get fresh. You may want to look at your hooks. If you are having bait stolen that much they may either be dull or too big. For your drop rig are you using wal-mart frankinrigs? If so then you may want to learn to tie your own using 20-30# fluro. I use Mono, but most people advise against it. I still catch fish and it's cheep.

I like this guys rig.

Other baits you'll want to look into is are fishbites http://fishbites.com/ They absolutely will not come off the hook and have been as good or better than natural bait. I've also had good luck with Berkly gulp 3" swimming mullet and shrimp on a jig. http://www.basspro.com/Brand-Berkley...GlpMay2014_CFM If there are pinfish in the area they will eat them up. Good news is you can put a chunk of what's left on a bottom rig. They don't work as well as the fishbites, but they will attract fish.

I love Kastmasters for action fishing. I've caught trout, spanish makeral, ladyfish, crokers, hardtails and even a small shark on them. Change up the presintation if something isn't working. Bounce off the bottom, reel it in as fast as you can, pull it in slow or whatever else you can think of.

If your bait is drifting that much either the surf is really bad or your drag isn't tight enough and the waves are pulling it in. Get a sand spike, pull your line tight and keep as much of it out of the water as you can. A sand spike is a 3-5' piece of schedule 40 pvc cut at 45 degrees or deeper. Drive it in the sand 18" or more slightly toward the water, but not enough that a fish could pull it out. http://fishingdestinguide.com/BEACHF...SANDSPIKE.html Read the thread at the top of the surf fishing Q&A page on reading the surf and throw into the holes or gut. You may be throwing on top of the sand bar and your bait is being eaten by crabs and tiny fish.

When you cast, you want your drag pretty tight. After casting take up all the slack until you feel the weight set in the sand, then loosen your drag to the point that there is just a little bend in your rod, the line is taught, but you can easily pull it out with just two fingers.

All this being said, the fish may not have been biting that week.
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Last edited by johnf; 05-22-2015 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 05-22-2015, 09:56 AM   #3
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If you want to catch some pompano here is how you do it. Get a 7-10 ft rod with a reel no smaller than a penn 4000. Spool with 20# braided or mono line. Use a simple leader with two hooks and a 3oz pyramid weight at the bottom. Dont use the walmart leaders because they are two flashy. Just use a plain monofilament leader. Use sand fleas because frozen shrimp can target any fish as sand fleas are mainly fed on by pompano. You can buy sand fleas at a bait and tackle place. You can buy a sand flea rake and try to catch them but as you said they are finicky and hard to catch by someone who does not know how to locate them. Cast in a trough between the beach and a sandbar. Remember pompano can come right up to the beach and their is no need to try to get it way out their. Also pompano are hard to catch in the summer they mainly run the beaches in april amd may.
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Old 05-22-2015, 10:10 AM   #4
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Make sure you are fishing in a "wash out". That is where the fish are.
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Old 05-23-2015, 04:40 PM   #5
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FIRST, THATKS TO ALL Y'ALL!

JOHN F:
Dropping any kind of leader just seems like a bad idea. Why would you suggest it? The flashy barrel swivels? I've gotten advice to dump all flashy terminal rig, except the hook, so I'll do that. But I got have more reasons to get rid of all leaders! What are they?
Seems odd to dump the shrimp altogether, as it's been my only producer - however pathetic. I shall give it a go, though. As for squid, how should I hook them/present them? What I have done in the past is just using the 'head' to make a sort of mini-squid. No joy. I've also tried just using them as just cut bait in no real shape at all. Any clarification, please?
My hooks ARE going to get an overhaul. I'm going to go with: 'Mustad UltraPoint Demon' hooks both in-line and offset. I'll ask the guys at Destin's Bass Pro as to the proper size.
I HAVE been using the Wal-Mart rigs, or their equivalent. I like this guy's rigs, too and will ge giving them a go. I've also come across these: 'Matzuo Pompano Wide Gap Rig with Kahle Floats and Fluorescent Beads, Gold' and will try them as they will get my bait up off the bottom.
If I can find the Fishbites, I will be trying their 'Xtreme Scent Release Shrimp 3.5" Lures.' It's too late to order them online. The Berkley Gulp! I have tried, but will try again. Can't hurt. Kastmaster spoons and things like them I've used. It's how I'm retrieving them that's the problem.
I have used sand spikes, of course, and this year have actually made some MUCH taller ones to use. I'm hoping this will make a difference.

BEBEE:
I've got a 12' rod and the Penn Fierce 5000. I've been told by a great many people, most importantly the locals down their at Bass Pro Destin that Flourocarbon is the way to go because of the clarity of y'alls water. I will 100% bring up and press for the pros and cons of braided or mono with them this year (I go buy my line from the first thing so they can remove old line and put on new - I'll have opportunity). I'll ask about proper leaders and have already been advised against anything flashy in the way of swivels, snaps and crimpers.
Sand fleas. As a kid and younger man, sand fleas were about as hard to catch as bending over and snatching them up as the wave receded back down the beacj. No digging or rakes needed, you could easily see dozens swimming about in the wave wash. Are there still some down there? Seems unlikely as I used to see them with the naked eye but I will ask around and if necessary will buy a rake. Were they not like that in Pensacola 10 and more years ago? Just easy to see?
As for where to cast BANANATOM, you too my friend, I know the theory but never seem to find the right spots when I want them. Or I will find one that looks right, and then see one firther down the beach and relocate. I know to watch wave crsts and color changes and the rest - I just wish there was a surf fisherman in my family to pass this info along.
I have a good feeling about this year, my third in Destin. I will apply all of your advice as well as the advice I've gotten from Youtube and elsewhere. Please say a prayer from May 29 on for a week.

PLEASE KEEP THE ADVICE COMING!!!

Thanks,
Jeremy Pan
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Old 05-23-2015, 05:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Panoply View Post
FIRST, THATKS TO ALL Y'ALL!

JOHN F:
Dropping any kind of leader just seems like a bad idea. Why would you suggest it? The flashy barrel swivels? I've gotten advice to dump all flashy terminal rig, except the hook, so I'll do that. But I got have more reasons to get rid of all leaders! What are they?
Seems odd to dump the shrimp altogether, as it's been my only producer - however pathetic. I shall give it a go, though. As for squid, how should I hook them/present them? What I have done in the past is just using the 'head' to make a sort of mini-squid. No joy. I've also tried just using them as just cut bait in no real shape at all. Any clarification, please?
My hooks ARE going to get an overhaul. I'm going to go with: 'Mustad UltraPoint Demon' hooks both in-line and offset. I'll ask the guys at Destin's Bass Pro as to the proper size.
I HAVE been using the Wal-Mart rigs, or their equivalent. I like this guy's rigs, too and will ge giving them a go. I've also come across these: 'Matzuo Pompano Wide Gap Rig with Kahle Floats and Fluorescent Beads, Gold' and will try them as they will get my bait up off the bottom.
If I can find the Fishbites, I will be trying their 'Xtreme Scent Release Shrimp 3.5" Lures.' It's too late to order them online. The Berkley Gulp! I have tried, but will try again. Can't hurt. Kastmaster spoons and things like them I've used. It's how I'm retrieving them that's the problem.
I have used sand spikes, of course, and this year have actually made some MUCH taller ones to use. I'm hoping this will make a difference.

BEBEE:
I've got a 12' rod and the Penn Fierce 5000. I've been told by a great many people, most importantly the locals down their at Bass Pro Destin that Flourocarbon is the way to go because of the clarity of y'alls water. I will 100% bring up and press for the pros and cons of braided or mono with them this year (I go buy my line from the first thing so they can remove old line and put on new - I'll have opportunity). I'll ask about proper leaders and have already been advised against anything flashy in the way of swivels, snaps and crimpers.
Sand fleas. As a kid and younger man, sand fleas were about as hard to catch as bending over and snatching them up as the wave receded back down the beacj. No digging or rakes needed, you could easily see dozens swimming about in the wave wash. Are there still some down there? Seems unlikely as I used to see them with the naked eye but I will ask around and if necessary will buy a rake. Were they not like that in Pensacola 10 and more years ago? Just easy to see?
As for where to cast BANANATOM, you too my friend, I know the theory but never seem to find the right spots when I want them. Or I will find one that looks right, and then see one firther down the beach and relocate. I know to watch wave crsts and color changes and the rest - I just wish there was a surf fisherman in my family to pass this info along.
I have a good feeling about this year, my third in Destin. I will apply all of your advice as well as the advice I've gotten from Youtube and elsewhere. Please say a prayer from May 29 on for a week.

PLEASE KEEP THE ADVICE COMING!!!

Thanks,
Jeremy Pan

Sounds like you have the right equitment. As for line type flourocarbon is probaly better but i really dont notice much difference between them. As for sand fleas, I wasnt in the surf fishing game 15 years ago so i wouldnt know how abundant they were. I know they are quite hard to find but if you invest in a rake and some reaserch and time you can find them. You have to be able to learn how to locate groups of them and properly catch them. You can watch videos online about that. If you do not want to do that then you can buy them frozen at a bait and tackle shop. Although, fresh is always better and they are very expensive for what they are. So in all just follow the guidelines move around if you have no luck, and just have patience.
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:55 PM   #7
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Bebee:

The only place I know to go to buy bait in the area I'll be in is that Bass pro shop; new spots welcome!. Where we are - just immediately east of the resort 'town' of San Destin. It is a place called 'Four Mile Village' in Coffeen Nature preserve. Link here: http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals...r-mile-village
and
http://www.mapquest.com/maps?city=Fo...llage&state=FL
The second link is better. Zoom in to Four Mile Village itself. You'll see Village Road is the only (gated) entrance. We get houses on Village Beach Road West (two this year) and as they are on the beach serve as our, well, beach houses. I'll use one as my 'base camp' to walk down and fish from. I'll actually be staying on one off of Missile Hilld Road called 'The Mockingbird House.' They're all named, the houses. Why Missile Hill? This whole place, Coffeen Nature Preserve, was a freaking shore battery. My father was in missile artillery in the Vietnam era Army (he was in W. Germany in charge of 3 Pershing tactical nukes (!!!) aimed at E. Germany.) and is very sure that this was NOT a missile battery but housed emplacements for shore battery naval guns. The ramps they used to move the monstrously sized guns are still there, as are various bunkers etc. Why there was such a battery in THAT location is a mystery - perhaps a practice faci8lity? I doubt we were worried about an invasion of the Destin area! A little trivia for you. But it lets you know where I'll be fishing very exactly.
Sand flea rakes are not cheap, but I will be looking for their tell-tales now that I know what they are from Youtube. I wasn't a fisherman 10+ years ago, either. Not a salt water one I should say.
My parents, aunts, uncles and g-parents WERE when we were very little (remember we've been going to the same spot for 39 years) and tell frustrating stories of just throwing out a line with 3 hooks, waiting about 5 minuts, and pulling in 3 eating sized fish. I remember we'd even eat them fro9m time to time. This was when there was NOTHING out there. When you had to drive to Fort Walton to get groceries and gasoline. To say that my skin turns green at these stories in an understatement. And NONE of them were really very dedicated fishermen. Just doing it for fun sometimes. Grrr.
Now, of course, the area is cluttered with huge hotels and shops. While our little Village has a empty beach with only the occasional stroller or jogger crossing in front of the houses, the fish are mostly gone. Along with: sand fleas, shells, sand dollars, sand crabs etc etc. All of these I remember being so common as to not even being worth remarking upon. If you found an intact sand dollar the size of a small dinner plate, you'd remark on that. That's all. The game fish were VISIBLE regularly as we swam - as were the sharks, which scared us but never acted aggressively. Manta rays over 6 feet wide were seen, and sea trutles too (the sea turtles are still regulars). As we went at different times during the summer, April-September, sometimes we'd be there for some spawning events. I remember a sea skate year where they were EVERYWHERE and a crab one, too - we ate great that year! We kids would go out at night and catch them with nets and flashlights. It took less than an hour to get enough to feed 40 or so people in that time. I remember them telling us they were getting the pot ready so get out there. Alas, I was born too late. My kids will be lucky to see a single fish at this rate.
Enough reminiscing. Thanks for the help and kep it coming!

Last edited by Panoply; 05-24-2015 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 05-24-2015, 04:35 PM   #8
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I didn't intend for you to drop the leaders and shrimp altogether, just frozen shrimp and big walmart leaders. Frozen shrimp tends to fall off your hook really easy and seems to attract catfish. The walmart leaders are just bog and thick and the desirable fish are easily spooked. Sometimes less is more. I seem to remember walmart having fishbites. As fore the squid, I've always used them as cut bait. Once you catch something on the squid cut a chunk or strip of it on and and sling the fresh stuff out.

Fresh is better than dead, dead is better than frozen.
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Old 05-25-2015, 11:48 AM   #9
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I second the "drop the walmart and frozen shrimp" comments.
Tie your own leaders from 15-30lb flourocarbon or mono (flouro better) use the smallest swivels that meet your weight needs. I lightly spray paint mine light tan (VERY lightly). Just enough to knock the shine off. You this days or weeks in advance so that they do not smell like paint.

Use fresh shrimp to catch small (and large fish) use the small ones as cut bait for larger ones. Dont discount the sharks either. They are alot of fun to catch off the beach, but they draw huge crowds. haha. Funny how few of them get back into the water after you catch a shark. I also agree with the fishbites. I started using it last year. At times if will outfish real bait. It is really difficult to get off the hook too. I use a piece about the size of the end of your finger. One piece can last all day. You can also use a tiny piece to tip your casting jigs. Yesterday, I tried tipping my pompano jigs with a gulp minnow. It was good for Ladyfish. Others have great success with gulp, but that was the first time that it has ever worked for me.

As for hooks, use a 1/0 circles. They will be good for pretty much anything that you will want to catch off of the beach with a bottom rig.

Also try buying some tiny chartreuse or orange (chartreuse works better for me) bream floats. Cut them in half and put them on your rig just above the hook so that they slide down and cover your hook knot. It adds color and a tad of buoyancy to your bait. Skip ALL of the shiny crap that is made into those walmart (Eagle Claw) rigs. EVERYTHING is scared of those except hardheads. haha
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Old 05-25-2015, 03:18 PM   #10
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I don't have a dog I the hunt or ever surf fish but in y mind I would not necessarily call the folks at bass pro , experts. Like anything sometimes you have to wade through the information to get the truth? Personally I would use advice from here before bass pro. Just my two cents, it's worth what I charged you for it.
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