Help for a Surf Fishing Noob from Out of Town

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing' started by chattmr, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. chattmr

    chattmr Member

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    Hey Guys – I’m going to be in SD for a several days in early April on business and I am hoping to fish for Corbina and Surf Perch in the mornings and evenings.

    I am an experienced fly fisherman, but most often in freshwater. I have fished the surf in the Florida panhandle, but I know it does not compare to what you have. (I lived in Ventura as a kid, and I remember fishing for surf perch with light spinning tackle, but this will be my first time there in at least 25 years and the first time with a fly rod.)

    I plan to bring a 6-weight that travels well (my heavier rods would be cumbersome to travel with on business), which I hope will be adequate. I will also have my stripping basket.

    A google search led me to CraigSmith 's excellent post https://sdfish.com/forums/t/surf-fly-fishing-primer-and-tips.147199/ , which also enticed me to join this forum. From Craig’s primer, I think I have the basics down, but I have a few questions I’m hoping you guys can help me out with:

    (1) Right now, I have a pretty typical WF floating line on the 6-weight, which I doubt will be great in the surf. What does everyone prefer for this situation? Shooting head? How fast of a sinking line? Sink-tip with intermediate running line? I’d love some specific recommendations.

    (2) What is the best basic strategy for a guy in my situation? Fish at dawn and dusk, regardless of tide? Fish the flooding tide, regardless of time? Something else?

    (3) I am hearing a lot about finding “structure” on the beach (holes, seams, etc…) which I think I understand, but what sort of beach should I be looking for in a macro sense? Steep? Rocky? Gently sloping? Most of the pictures I see people post seem to be on relatively flat beaches with a very gentle slope into the water.

    (4) For fly selection, it seems like there are two broad categories: stuff in the column (baitfish/streamers) and stuff that is truly on the bottom (crabs/worms). Which is the best category to start with?

    (5) My trip will somewhat coincide with a full moon. Will there be Grunion? If so, does this make a big difference in strategy?

    (6) Restaurant recommendation for a good carne asada burrito after fishing.

    Thanks in advance for any advice. If anyone is willing to point me in the right direction for actual beaches to target, I would be grateful for that too. But, I am not asking anyone to share confidential or special locations (if there is such a thing in surf fishing).
     
  2. CraigSmith

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    (1). You want a line that will sink at a rate of 4" per second or faster. 24' sinking portion or longer. For a 6wt rod a couple of good choices would be Rio Outbound Short WF6 S6 or Airflo 6wt Surf line. Scientific Anglers has similar lines in their "Sonar" series and Orvis has their "Depth Charge lines". Use 200 grain lines in those series for a 6 wt rod. A line with a floating running section like the Teeny T-200 or Rio Avid Trout 200 grain 24' sink tip may be useful if the surf is low (1-2 feet) but will be more difficult to control in the surf under most condition.

    (2). Best conditions are usually low light. This can be dawn or dusk or overcast. I prefer to fish the first half on an incoming tide. I try to avoid peak high tide. Other than those recommendation I just go when I have time.

    (3). Most local beaches have a gentle slope. Some will have a bit steep slope nearer the high tide point. All of the S.D area beaches are fishable. Avoid beach areas with lots of cobble stones. They don't fish well. These areas can move as storms reposition sand. So can't just say avoid certain areas.

    (4) Clouser Minnows. Thats all you need. These weighted streamers get down and catch everything. I'd start there. If you want to add a few other patterns thats fine.

    (5). I haven't noticed much influence of grunion runs on perch and corbina fishing. Some people specifically target halibut as there may be greater numbers of larger halibut in the surf when the grunion are present. Most that do target halibut with the fly during these times use larger weighted baitfish patterns (clousers and others) that 4 to 5 inches long. But a heavier fly line may be needed to cast these larger flies well.

    (6). Maybe others will chime in. For me surf is usually early and I finish up with a Machaca burrito from Robertos on Morena Blvd. But I go there because it is a block from Stroud Tackle where I help out. If I fish Torrey Pines I head over to the Robertos at 2206 Carmel Valley Road just east of the beach.

    No secret spots and really, just about any sandy beach can be fine. I fish Mission Beach a lot because its less than 15 minutes from my house. Coronado, Silver Strand, Pacific Beach south of Diamond Street, Torrey Pines State Beach, Any of the Calsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, and Oceanside can all be ok. If I didn't list it, it doesn't mean it should be avoided, it just means I haven't been there. You do need to be aware of some areas closed to fishing in the northern PB, La Jolla, and southern blacks beach areas. You will have to look up the California Marine Life Protection Act (MPLA) information on line to seem maps and gps coordinates of the closed areas.
     
    #2 CraigSmith, Mar 18, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  3. Werfless

    Werfless The Coach
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    I am trying to get a fly fisherman lined up to start figuring out the LJ area.. If you want some more intel a bit closer, I might be able to steer you in the right direction.
     
  4. Creek

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    I started reading your initial post when I saw that the legend himself had already chimed in. You're getting gospel from one of the best. Creek... out !
    R4WZeSu.jpg
     
    #4 Creek, Mar 18, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  5. Werfless

    Werfless The Coach
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    Funny, but agree too.. Lol
     
  6. chattmr

    chattmr Member

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    You guys are awesome! Thanks.

    Couple of more questions:

    - Any thoughts on fishing multi-fly rigs? Something like this:
    cook5.jpg

    - How do you usually work streamers in the surf? Fast retrieve? Strip & pause? Swinging in the current?
     
  7. CraigSmith

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    That looks like an invitation to tangles to me, especially with three weighted flies.

    8 or 10 lb tippet is fine. 20lb is for stripers up north. If you run with two flies, maybe something like a clouser and a small bonefish pattern like a Charlie or mini-puff, run about 6 feet mono to swivel or tippet ring. Attach one fly with a short dropper and the section with longer piece of tippet.

    That heavy line in the drawing will not sink as fast as thinner lighter mono. That is the first I have seen of anyone using line that heavy in the surf. Doesn't mean it doesn't work. Guide Lee Baermann, in his book "Fly Fishing The Surf" which is about So Cal surf fly fishing recommends 6 to 10 lb test also.

    Flies worked in the surf generally work better on a moderate to fast retrieve. The key is to maintain contact with the fly as well as have a different movement that stuff that is tumbled around "dead".
     
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  8. dooolan

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    I agree with Craig. 4 to 6’ of mono in the 8 or 10lb range. Size 4 clouser cast around 50 to 70’. Wave height should be 2’ to 4’ or it can be tough to keep your line tight.
     
    #8 dooolan, Mar 18, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  9. mistercameron

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    It’s worth picking up. It’s a quick, easy read. There were a couple of head scratchers as he was trying to explain a few concepts (maybe we’re just on different wavelengths), but nothing you can’t figure out with cross referencing YouTube.
     
  10. chattmr

    chattmr Member

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    Couple more questions, guys:

    Running Line -- When using a shooting head in the surf, do you notice a meaningful difference between running lines? I have an intermediate running line (feels like the back end of a WF line, but it loops on to the head) or I could use Amnesia. Any thoughts?

    Waders -- I will be traveling light (this is a business trip, after all...) and I wasn't planning to pack waders. Is this crazy? Should I go ahead and check that extra bag so I can be warm? How bad is the surf going to chill me at the beginning of May if I wet-wade?
     
  11. CraigSmith

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    An intermediate running line is fine and easier to manage. That is what I use with my shooting heads in the surf. It will sit in a stripping basket better than amnesia due it its greater weight.

    Amnesia is fine too to but harder to grip as you know. A trick to make amnesia easier to handle (maybe you already know this): Soak it in water before use. It is nylon based so will absorb water like all nylon based monofilament lines. When soaked, the tendency to coil is greatly reduced. I only use amnesia these days for some very specific deep water applications, but when I do I soak it before use. To "soak" it, it fold up a paper towel so it will wind on the reel spool then get it good and wet. I the strip the shooting head off the reel (still attached to the shooting line. I then wrap the soaked towel around the spool and wind the shooting head over it. I do this the night before I fish. Just remove the paper towel when you strip off the shooting head for the first cast.

    I can cast Amnesia a bit farther since it is thinner and lighter but the added distance isn't a benefit in my experience.

    Regarding waders, it really comes down to your tolerance for cold. Some anglers wet wade all year. I wear waders all year since I get chilled easily. I can't tell you if you will get chilled - I can only tell you what the typical conditions will be. In May, water temps will most likely be from low to mid 60's F, maybe creeping up to high 60s. Depending on time of day air temps can be high 50s to low 70s. Breeze will be calm to 10-15 mph. Morning and evening will be overcast most days due to marine layer. Some days it will be overcast at the beach all day (2 miles inland it may be clear).
     
  12. Werfless

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