Before I get started with this article, I want to let it be known that I am not at all an expert when it comes to saltwater fishing. My family and I go down around Gulf Shores, AL every year at the beginning of summer for a week. However, we have been going down there since I can remember, and I have had a pretty decent amount of success fishing in both the ocean and the bay, so I have decided to share some of my information. Also, I want to thank my good friend Justin Sanders for giving me the idea of this topic because everything is frozen here in Illinois, and I was having trouble figuring out what to write about after school got out for the semester.
Now, down to business. Let’s start with surf fishing in the ocean. When I fish in the ocean, I have not had much success throwing lures. Obviously some people do, but I prefer to use live bait. When I’m fishing in the ocean, I’m pretty much targeting any fish that will bite, so I like to use a good all-around bait. I like to test and use different baits, but my all-time favorite is live sand fleas (pictured below). On the first day, I’ll buy frozen sand fleas and use those while I catch my own live sand fleas. The frozen ones are decent, but nothing beats the real thing!
The way I rig these suckers is I buy a pre-made Pompano-rig (pictured below) from the store. These pre-made rigs come with two or three hooks separated by a few inches of line with a heavy weight (3-8 oz.) on the end of the line to hold the bait in place once on the bottom. I usually like to use a 4 oz. weight unless the wind and/or tide are bad. Once I get my rig all tied on, I like to take the sand flea in my left hand and put the hook through the middle of its shell from the back to the front. This will secure the flea in place on the hook until the fish takes the bait.
I use a pretty cheap setup for surf fishing since I only do it one week out of the year, but it’s an effective setup. The rod I use is a 9′ medium-power Daiwa D-Wave spinning rod paired with a 5000-B series Daiwa D-Wave reel. As far as line goes, I use 20 lb. Berkely Big Game monofilament line, but if I were to fish the ocean more often, I think I would try using some heavy braid instead so it would be more sensitive and there would be no stretch on the hookset.
Fishing in the bay is a whole different ball game. Fishing in the bay is a lot more like bass fishing, finding where you think the fish are and targeting specific areas. When I fish in the bay, I am usually either targeting speckled trout or Redfish. Both are great to eat, but Redfish are kind of considered to be the “bass” of saltwater and they are my favorite species to go after. When I target these fish, both Redfish and trout, I like to use two different baits: shrimp and some kind of baitfish. There are many companies who make imitations for each of these baits, but I refer the ‘Gulp!’ brand for shrimp imitations and if I’m going to use a baitfish imitation, I try to catch my own live bait. When using the shrimp imitation, I like to take a 2/0 Trapper Tackle dropshot/live bait hook and put the hook through the tail of the shrimp. Once you have cast out your fake shrimp, I like to let it sink for a bit (depending on how deep you think the fish are) and then kind of twitch it and move it similar to the way you hop/twitch a jig for bass. If I’m using a live baitfish, I like to use a bit bigger hook, like a 2/0-4/0 Trapper Tackle standard wide-gap hook. Then, I will put the hook through the fish about half-an-inch to an inch in front of the tail of the fish so the fish can still swim and attract fish.
Once again, I only do this kind of fishing one week out of the year, so I don’t have a super expensive setup for this either. I use a cheaper spinning reel, no specific brand, that is saltwater approved and a 6’6″ to 7′ either medium or medium-heavy power rod. If I had to pick one, I would just go with the medium-power, so I could be sure I wouldn’t break the dropshot hook. For the line, I like to use either 12 lb. or 15 lb. P-Line Floroclear.
I had a good time writing this article about the saltwater fishing I do! While most lakes and ponds are frozen over here in Illinois, there are some power plant lakes that don’t freeze over throughout the year. My buddy Jacob Wunder and I will be going to Newton Lake in Newton, IL to throw some jerkbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits for some nice winter bass next weekend, so I should be writing another article in about a week or so about our trip! Thanks for reading and be sure to tune in in a week or so to hear about our trip to the well-known Newton Lake!