Surf Fishing techniques

by Phil Ellerton

Tasmania is blessed with some of the most beautiful, scenic beaches in the world, all containing various numbers of sought after sportfish.
Often species as rare as Tailor, enter out waters with there being a ready supply of Rays, Sharks, Flathead, Whiting, Mullet an the more elusive Blackback Salmon. The fact is, that these secluded beaches are not heavily fished and publicised, like the more popular mainland destinations. As in all fishing there are certain techniques, rigs and baits which will give you the advantage and swing the odds back into your favour.



The most popular bait for the surf, with reason is the humble Pilchard or sometimes knows as Mullies. These can be used whole, or sliced in half with the head and tail being used separately.

Fish strips or pieces are also successful with Mackerel, Mullet, Flathead and tuna, all being preferred baits. The fresher the bait and more oily the flesh of the fish the more successful it will be. Pippis, although some times hard to find in any decent size are great as bait in the surf for Whiting, Mullet and Flathead.

Sandworms are another commonly used bait which are superb for the frequent numbers of mullet and whiting that enter the more shallow, close in waters. Finally squid are another alternative which produce positive results.

Small squid are natural prey that enter the surf waters. Squid having an extremely tough flesh which comes into a league of its own when targeting large school or Gummy sharks.


The most important technique to begin with is the reading of the beach. The fish dwell in the deeper channels, where they lie in ambush of the baitfish.

The easiest way to locate these gutters is to find a high advantage point and mark it out down on the beach, where the gutters run parallel along the beach, being hopefully in casting distance. The easiest way to recognise a gutter is the dark colour of water which shows the depth of the water, the dark represents deeper water.

Another clue to deep water is a part of the beach which has less or very little surf or wave action, this normally represents deeper water. After finding the perfect spot berley is an essential factor. After all the beach you are fishing is more likely miles long and you want the fish in you few metres.

I suggest fish pieces of bread soaked in tuna oil. Also a few pilchards heads thrown into the surf can only improve your chances. Rod holders are a must when surf fishing, besides making it easier for your arms, rod holders more importantly keep your line above the waves. From my experience fishing the surf at night and very early morning seem to be the more productive times. Suring the shelter of the night fish seem to be more comfortable to venture into the not so deep gutters.


I believe that there is no set size sinker and hook when it comes to surf fishing, because it simply depends on the conditions. Although remember to fish with as small a sinker as possible and if necessary use a hook a little bit too small rather than using a hook too big, as most weekend anglers do.

An average hook size would be around a 4/0. As a guide I wouldn't go any smaller than size 2 and no larger than 8/0.
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