Bill Varney – SURF LINES

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Sidewinders and winter surf fishing
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Sand crabs and summer surf fishing

Surf Fishing Stalemate
OK, ok, ok, I give. The surf has got every surf angler in a headlock. Giant swells generated by huge storms in the Artic have been pounding our shores for the last two months. I really can’t remember since way back in 1968 of the surf being so big for so long. Both Mavericks and the North Shore have both had giant-wave surf contests and the winter isn’t even half over.

In the meantime here along the coast, fish have taken noting less that a battering. Times like these produce a scattering of surf fish that search for structure to hide from the winter waves.

A CABEZON FELL to light tackle techniques in the surf. Get all the great info at the March 2-6 Fred Hall show seminars andf clinics by Varney and friends.

Winter always sends surf fish into protected areas but this year is more like solitary confinement. Fish seek safe areas to forage and hide from the blasting swells. They get hunkered down in groups and once you find these areas they always provide good fishing.

Rock structure is the only place most fish can find relief from the winter swells. To improve your chances of catching fish this winter look for areas where rock structure provides protection. Jetties, rivermouths, harbor entrances, estuaries, large boulders and reefs just offshore are all great places to start. Fish tight to the rocks where sand meets rock structure. Draw you bait back along these areas to entice fish to move from the safety of between rocks and strike your bait.

Use the Carolina rig with a couple of modifications. Shorten your leader to eight to t10 inches. Be sure to use fluorocarbon leader material as it’s abrasion resistance qualities are important when your rig is rubbing along rocks. Downsize your sinker dramatically. Use a 1/8- to ¼-ounce sliding egg sinker. Both of these modifications will lessen your chance of snagging.

For live bait you can’t beat the sidewinder crab, blood/lug worms, Gulp! and grubs. Remember, this is the time of year when cold water makes fish slow down, so slow your retrieve down too. Also, fish bite more subtly now, so it’s important to keep tight to your sinker at all times and reel down and lift up your surf rod up as soon as you feel the first bite.

Lure fishing can be exceptional now with Kastmasters, Krocodiles, Lucky Craft, Infinity and Rapalla lures working for perch, halibut, white seabass and a variety of monster surf fish. Here too, slow down your retrieve and be wary of snags, as the biggest fish will be up against the rocks.

With just a few quick adjustments and a bit more patience, you’ll be the one able to put the fish in a headlock and the torrential waves of winter behind you.

* * *

Bill Varney is a surfishing editor of WON. His column on light tackle surf fishing appears monthly. Visit his booth at the Fred Hall Show to talk about surf fishing and check out this year’s new surf equipment. We are located in the 1100 isle not far from the Cousins booth in the main convention building. Check out the pre-show seminar on Thursday (a surf fishing clinic with Robert Gruger, Varney and Greg Silks) or come to one of his four clinics held in the upstairs seminar room (nearest Pine St.) 2:15 p.m. Wed, Fri, Sat and 3:15 Thursday.

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