Bill Varney – SURF LINES

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Sand crabs and summer surf fishing
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Four Favorite Summer Road Trips

Surf fishing etiquette and safety
Even to me this is a boring subject but I have to admit it’s easier to know the rules in advance then to learn them along the way. Take golfing, if you didn’t know the rules you would be putting first, talking on the tees and picking up strangers balls. To avoid confrontation and have a great time every trip to the beach here are a few tips I live by.

BRIAN PARKER OF San Diego showing off a large barred surfperch.

When you go to the beach remember you’re there for recreation and not confrontation. Every so often we run into some bonehead and have to remind ourselves to keep cool. Be patient and enjoy yourself.

From Seattle to San Felipe Mexico there are more than 3,000 miles of surf fishing coastline. Feel free to spread out and try new areas. If you see someone fishing the beach give them space. If you choose to fish near them, let’s say from the rocks or on the beach, take a moment to ask them for their permission. If they say no, move on. Most often they’ll say yes and may let you in on what they’re doing to be successful.

When dealing with swimmers and surfers here are a few things to remember: Be respectful: Most swimmers and surfers have little knowledge of fishing and don’t know when they’re in danger or in your way. If you can move a bit, or wait for the drift to take them away, you’ll be able to get back to fishing in no time.

Give way to the crowd: If you approach the beach and find it crowded with swimmers and surfers, don’t fish there. Find another place to fish or return earlier and later once they’re gone.

Let them know you’re there: If swimmers or surfers paddle out right where you are fishing let them know with a call or whistle and point out as to where your line is. Most of the time they will move on down the beach. If they don’t, you move on.

SANTIAGO MATA FROM Los Angeles with a hefty Bolsa Chica corbina.

Remove all of your trash when you leave the beach. This is my biggest regret of being a fisherman—seeing all the trash anglers’ leave behind. So take all of your trash with you and dispose of all leftover bait, as it will attract birds and rats if left on the rocks or beach. At the end of a session I will often have a bag along to pick up trash left by others as I make my way back to my vehicle. I’m not here to clean up the entire beach, but every little bit we can do helps.

Over the last few weeks I’ve received some great surf fishing photos of big perch. After the warm water of last summer it’s great to see both the perch and crabs back. I do want to remind everyone that for the large pregnant perch please try to put them back in the water as soon as possible. Jason Scribner from has written an excellent article on how to spot them and place them back properly. Check it out on his site. In the meantime, keep some smaller perch, which seem sweeter and more tender—and make some tacos!

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Check out Bill’s upcoming on-the-beach surf fishing clinics on his site where you’ll find tips on how to rig, bait and find fish at the beach. To explore the tackle he uses everyday in the surf visit

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