Surf Casting and Beach Fishing in St. Pete, FL
One of the pleasures of fishing in St. Pete, especially on our white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast, is the ability to fish from nearly anywhere. Unless posted, most public beaches here in Florida allow you to beach fish, provided you have a Florida saltwater shore fishing license. On any given day, especially when the water is calm, it’s common to see people out on the beach with their rods and cast nets, enjoying the day.
Surf Casting Rods
When you’re surf casting, you’ll need gear that will get your bait out to where the fish are. This usually means a longer rod.
Rods that are 10-feet and longer are specifically designed for beach fishing. This gives you added length and power to get your bait further out into the surf where you need to be. That being said, the longer the rod, the more difficult it can be to control. While a 10-foot surf casting rod will cast less distance than a longer one, you may find it more precise.
Most beach anglers have dedicated rods specifically for surf casting and often have more than one line in at a time. Some even use their long surf rod to cast bait out further and use a smaller, lighter spinning outfit to cast lures closer to shore.
Rod action is measured by the point at which the rod begins to bend. The higher the bend is on the rod, the faster the rod’s action.
Surf casting rods have different power levels that range from light to heavy. Medium to heavy is what is most used depending on the angler and their needs.
Power levels are measured by the amount of pressure needed to load the rod, which is the point at which the rod shaft begins to bend. These will vary between manufacturers, and it's best to read the recommendations for line strength and lure sizes to choose which is best for your situation.
Best Reels for Beach Fishing
Beach fishing is hard on tackle and gear in general because of sand and salt corrosion. Even when a reel doesn’t come into direct contact with the water, seaspray and the occasional splash are enough to corrode parts and lock up the drag. So a good reel is essential.
On top of that, fighting a fish from shore will require a reel that smoothly casts long, with solid internal components and precise drag. Generally, the heavier and longer the rod you are using, the larger and heavier the reel should be. But reel size will also depend on what types of bait or lures you’re using.
Don’t Forget the Sand Spikes
One of the most common challenges of beach fishing is keeping the sand off your equipment.
Sand spikes are PCV tubes that are hollow and pointed at one end. The pointed end digs into the sand and the rod is inserted into the hollow end, enabling it to stand upright independently. Sand spikes can be further modified with some aluminum tubing that can help them stay stable in rougher surf.
What About Bait?
The best bait? That’s simple. Whatever your targeted catch naturally eats. Perhaps the best all-round bait is shrimp, but it can be difficult to keep on a line when casting long. Also common are sand fleas, cut bait, and bait fish. Many serious anglers catch their own live bait with a cast net.
Finding a spot to surf cast won’t be a problem in St. Pete. We are surrounded by waters teeming with gamefish just waiting for your line. Need to gear up? Head over to Reef & Reel, and we can deck you out with some of the best beach fishing equipment in the industry. Stop by and let the serious surf casting begin!