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How to Fish The Ocean From Shore - Where, The Best Bait, Kinds of Fish


Fishing the ocean in California, and many other places, can be tricky and dangerous but can be easy and fun, along with safe, if you follow a few guidelines, tricks, and hints that are included in this article as well as this other shore fishing article.  Although beach fishing is shore fishing too, this article is about fishing for rock fish from the rocky areas of the ocean as that is my interest and what I have had the most success with.  So, here is a little help with how to catch fish from shore at the ocean, where the best places to fish for rock fish from shore are and the best bait for fishing for bottom fish and rock fish from the shore of the ocean.

How to Shore Fish the Ocean


First, the gear and tackle needed for fishing from the shore of the ocean is pretty simple and inexpensive.  I use a pretty hefty rod that is not expensive and about seven feet long or longer with a real that will accommodate about 30# test line and cast easily.  I use hooks that are cheap and three ounce weights.  I don’t use tobacco sacks that are sold as a cheap substitution for weights that you add rocks too as they are swept around too much by the surf and cause a lot of snags.  The hooks I use are any medium size like you would use for channel catfish, carp, or black bass.   Because of all the snags on the kelp and rocks, I never use a leader or swivels.  I just tie the weight on bottom and make two loops in the line to hold the two hooks about 18 inches apart with the lowest one being that far from the weight.  And plan on being patient and re-rigging quite often as this is part of the game and you might as well accept it.  Don’t hurry and be happy!

As far as bait goes, there are many choices.  My favorites are mussels, abalone guts (from the garbage cans in campgrounds in North California), squid from the store, and the little crabs and creatures that live in the mussel beds on the rocks.  I make it a point to gather mussels first thing at low tide when I am at the ocean as that is the only time they are exposed and available.  Even then, if the ocean is raging, you can’t get them without risking being washed off the rocks by a sleeper wave – a huge wave that is much larger than the rest that comes by surprise.  Once I get the mussels, I like to either steam them a little or microwave them slightly to firm them up and get their shells to open or they are a hassle.  I find that the fish could care less that they are cooked a little and they bait up and stay on the hook ten times better.  Always yank the biggest mussels off the rock you can as they are best for baiting.  The mediums are best for your tummy but you can only usually eat them between the months of October and March while the water is cold and there is no “red tide” present.  If I can’t get these, I buy squid.  Look in the fish market and see if there are fresh ones by chance but frozen ones will do.

I like to fish when the tide is about half way on its way out.  That way, you can follow the water and move outward on the rocks you are fishing from as the tide goes out and move in with it as it comes in.  If the sea is raging, opt for a real high cliff and just drag your fish ungracefully up the cliff face with your 30# test as this is much better than dying by being swept off of the rocks.  You can also fish the cliffs at high tide when the water below is a little deeper.  I like to find a little bay that gets real calm because a rock formation is exposed at low tide out front that breaks all the surf from it.  Sometimes it will be a little chute or inlet that is exposed at low tide and is calm.  Some days the water is just flat and opportunities are wide open for spots but never take your eye off the ocean as about every 10,000th wave is a sleeper they say.  Also, don’t travel out to your desired spot and get trapped out on the rocks by the incoming tide that swallows your exit while you aren’t paying attention.  This happens very easily.  Matter of fact, read these ocean safety tipsbefore you head out fishing.

Just like about anywhere, the fishing is best where the less people fish so the more you are willing to hike or climb hills to fishing holes, the better you will do.  Always take a friend with you for safety’s sake when possible and carry your cell phone too.  It’s the ocean, so plan on a cool breeze and dress appropriately so you can enjoy yourself without discomfort.  A snack and drink comes in handy too in case the fish are biting and you stay longer than you plan.  I use a small back pack instead of a tackle box and carry a plastic bag or two for the fish to go in before they go in the pack.  I also carry binoculars and seldom do I not have some great reason to use them.

The fish you can catch vary from perch, Cabazon, ling cod, kelp greenling, china cod, black and blue rock fish and even a rock crab from time to time.  Some people use a pole with a treble hook tied to it and poke it in the rocks and catch all these and eels and if anyone has done this, please, please write us a “how to” on it and put it in the blogs at http://www.fishnfools.com ASAP as I and others are eager to try it if we knew how.  Help us out!  

Also, we want to learn about Surf Fishing from the beaches so if anyone can write a little lesson on that for us, you will be our hero.  Matter of fact, lessons on ice fishing, deep sea fishing, charter boat fishing or any type of sea creature gathering would earn you our kudos.  C’mon, just takes a minute!  Help us out.


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