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First Timer Advice

1515 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Trevfishin
Hi all. I was here a few years back asking for advice on surf fishing. Got a LOT of excellent advice and felt well educated on surf fishing. But with 2 little kids at home, it ended being too much to try and do while at the beach. Now my son is almost 6 and LOVES fishing. We chase smallmouth in our local river (Upper Potomac). So we will definitely be hitting the beach this year. This is geared around my son, who can proficiently handle a 6/6" ML rod with a 30 size Pflueger President spinning reel. Wanted to run my plan/setup by you guys and see what you think. Any advice, recommendations, criticism is welcome!! FWIW, we'll be staying in Nags Head the first week in June. Not really sure what fish to except that time of year, but I'm sure you guys can help.

2 Penn Pursuit 4000's on 7' medium rod combos (need to purchase)
- 15-20# braid (for extra line capacity in case we need to cast further out)
- Double Drop Bottom Rigs with #4, #2, 1/0 and 2/0 Owner Circles
- 2-4oz Pyramid sinkers
These will be used to fish the first holes, drops, troughs, etc.

The same combos above will also be used for casting jigs and metal.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5500 C3 on 7' M/H Ugly Stik Catfish Rod (already owned)
- 20+# braid (again, for line capacity) w/ appropriate size shock leader
- Fish finder rig with 4/0(ish) size circle hooks tied with same mono as shock leader
- Up to 5 oz pyramid sinkers
This setup will be our "heaver". I'm not planning on slinging 8 n bait as hard and as far as I can. But having a little heavier setup that we can get further out might luck us into something bigger.

Bottom Rig Bait
Sand fleas (FREE!!)
Sand fleas fish bites
Fresh shrimp

Fishfinder Rig Bait
Fresh Cut Mullet
Not sure what else here??

I'm thinking the above setups will cover the basics minus a giant heaver with heavy weight and bait, which we don't need anyway. We can soak bait in the suds, cast lures into the surf and get one out a little closer to the second bar with a bigger presentation.

This is our annual family vacation that consists of a 4 year old a 6 year old and 3 adults. About a 6 hour drive for us and space is at a premium. Planning on a PVC rod holder attached to the roof rack of the car to carry the rods down. Something like this...


Everything else goes in a 5 gallon bucket that will be the carry all when we fish as well. Plan to make 3 of my own sand spikes out of PVC. Just 4' or so simple ones with a 45 degree cut at the bottom. Pliers, towel, wood and hammer (for pounding in sand spike), and tools/lube for reel disassembly when (not if, he's 6) one gets dropped in the sand/water. Anything else I'm missing?
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Sounds great. My wife still likes using her penn passion 4k/7' combo for sea mullet in the wash.
Everything should be fine, only addition is may want to grab some blood worms. After a few trips where that was all that caught, I never go without them.
Thanks!! I'll add that to the list. Just trying to make sure I'm not neglecting something obvious. Surf fishing is a whole different world compared to our usual river running chasing smallmouth and catfish.
One surprising difference can be the short strikes. Many days it’s not worth holding the rod to set the hook, keep it in the pvc until the fish hook themselves. Easier said than done LOL:rolleyes::)
Then again, your son can stand in 2 inches of water and catch the biggest fish of the day at his feet (without a tight line). I had my kids run up the beach to land fish when they were young. Just stay close(!) as those waves can sneak up on him. Head on a swivel as they say.
Thanks for the advice!! Appreciated.
Salt the shrimp, helps stay on the hook longer
Thanks!! You just throw some table salt (or would something else be better) in the bag and call it good? Or is there some more sophisticated method to this?
+1 on the Pflueger President for freshwater-- I was a longtime Shimano guy and still like them and fish them, but the Pflu Pres is hard to beat for the price.

For the beach I would add some squid strips just for the heck of it-- skinned and cut into very small thin white strips for the bottom rigs/hi-lo rigs. Switch it up with Fishbites, shrimp, squid, & fleas, and see what the prima donna fish are requiring these days....

Also, on the advice of a seasoned angler in Rodanthe, I recently started scaling my fresh mullet, preparing boneless fillets, and cutting the fillets into small triangular strips for the hook. Prior to that, I would just do the standard square-chunks approach.

Basically spending way too much time preparing the bait (but also practicing my fillet and pin-bone removal skills)-- as if I were about to throw it on the grill for myself. Could be my imagination.... but I swear I'm getting more hits and putting more fish on the beach. When/if I get tired of fishing and have leftover bait, the seagulls enjoy those premium cuts too. Lucky %[email protected]*'s.

Thanks for being a cool dad and getting the next generation of anglers involved!

Good luck on the beach,

Yeah man, I consider myself a well seasoned freshwater angler and Pflueger President's are all I use (spinning wise). GREAT reels and affordable. It was also easy to hand down a quality reel to my son that won't make me cry if he tears it up. HA!!

Thanks for the advice on fresh bait. Do you get all your fresh mullet, shrimp, squip, etc. from a bait shop? If you happen to know somewhere specific in Nags Head for bait I'd love the suggestion.

I understand your boneless filet method, but what is the "standard square chunk method"? When I fish for flatheads and big channels we use live bluegill. If we use them as cut bait it's simply heads and tails off and then appropriate since chunks cut vertically. Innards and all go on the hook with the cut fish. Is this method appropriate for surf fishing as well? Obviously I'll cut smaller chunks, but curious if I should only be using meaty chunks versus what I described above.

Thanks again for the tips and advice. I'm REALLY looking forward to it.
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For the salted shrimp, peel them first, put in a plastic container and cover with salt. I used a ziplock bag, but then couldn’t seal it properly after multiple times going in and out of the bag. It typically takes a day for them to toughen up.
I like using Kosher Salt. A lot bigger grain than reg. salt. Then put in Tupperware containers. As Trevefishin said, takes about a day.
Thanks guys!! Is this just head off fresh shrimp? Peel like you would to eat, but instead of eat throw on the hook?

Also, I'm assuming I can find all sorts of fresh bait (shrimp, squid, mullet, etc.) at any bait shot around Nags Head, correct?
A casting net might also be a fishing tool to consider for acquiring live bait.
Most definitely. I was south of Salvo last week watch schools of finger mullet riding the waves taunting me because I forgot my cast net at the house!! Even one of my casts erupted a school swimming by…
Excellent!! I have a cast net, but wasn't sure how realistic it would be to catch bait in the surf. I'll be sure to bring it along.
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