I got out and surf fished with guide Robert Danelen again last week.  You’ll recall that we met at the Sav-On surf fishing seminar back in February.  I fished with him down at Huntington Beach in early May.  Using some of my newfound knowledge, I was able to successfully score my first ever corbina by the end of the month.  Knowing that I got my “bean”, we went on a general surf session to some northern Santa Monica Bay beaches so that I could get the lay of the land, and learn some finer points.

I know the next question coming…where did you go?  All I will say is this, check out the beach app I mentioned before and put in your time, or contact Robert for a guided session: robert@danelen.com

The Surge and an Edge




Look at the picture above.  Don’t look at me or the fish.  Look at the sand.  I’m standing on wet sand.  The wave is receding behind me.  That area of where the wave washes up on the beach to where it comes back to the body of water is “the surge.”  The surge area isn’t going to be productive fishing-wise.  As I mentioned before, Robert likes to fish the whole incoming tide.  If you are there for the whole rising tide, you are going to see a lot of surge as the water comes up.  That doesn’t mean it’s unfishable.  One of the advantages is you see where there may be holes or troughs that will hold fish later when the tide comes up sufficiently to fill them in.  Make a mental note and come back to these spots later.  The ideal scenario is that when they do fill in, the surge will die down, and you get a nice defined edge.  When I fished with Robert at Huntington, we found a nice edge as the incoming was close to peak where the tide had filled in a hole we spotted earlier in the day.  At that point, we caught on almost every cast.

Understanding The Wave Pattern

So what do you do for the whole incoming tide while you are waiting for those edges to form?  One thing to do is try some casts a little further out.  Robert said the spot was known for yellowfin croaker, but that they hung further out.  I went back to the same spot this weekend and had a woulda coulda on a further cast.  I casted past the first wave break trying to hit a darker spot in front of the second break.  I hit it on a lull between waves.  I could feel the pull of the next wave forming when I got hit hard and connected.  The fish took drag and I had to play it out.  I had it ready to beach when a big piece of seaweed wiped me out at the very end 🙁  I saw it.  It was either a corb or a croaker.

I met Connor Doyle on the sand when I went back on Saturday.  Connor was fishing a hard bait on the incoming targeting croakers.  He had a stiffer pole and stronger test line.  He didn’t have to play the fish and could just crank in.  Score!  If you did the same thing, especially at the lull at the end of the receding tide and before it starts filling back in, you’d have your best chance at halibut throwing a hard bait or a krocodile at the right beach.



Another thing to do is be really judicious about casting to maximize the timing between waves in order to have your bait in play when the water is most fishable.  One of the best things we did was just stand at the water’s edge while Robert talked me through what the fish were thinking.  “Now they’re heading deeper to wait, they don’t want to fight those waves (the strong receding wave).  Now they are charging out of their holes to feed.”  We spent a lot of time where I was standing at the ready and Robert would say, “Wait, there’s another wave forming behind this one.  Wait.  Now, cast!”  It really taught me to be in tune to the whole picture and not what was right in front of me at a given moment.  Understanding the pattern and correctly anticipating those more productive moments is a big deal.  You go through a lot less bait this way.  That’s good for a few reasons…if you have a hard time making bait, your bait will last longer.  It’s also nice in terms of leaving less of a human footprint to the beach for your visit.  At the same time, it maximizes your time for the most productive fishing.  Robert said understanding this point is the difference between catching some fish in less than ideal conditions and getting skunked.


While the above 2 points were my big takeaways from my time with Robert, there were a ton of little things that added up I know will make a big difference to my surf fishing game.  Do yourself a favor.  Save yourself the steep learning curve and book a session with Robert.  You’ll get a jump on the spots, how to fish them, and up your general knowledge of surf fishing quickly.

Email him: robert@danelen.com or give him a call 818-783-7122

More Pictures!  Robert’s trip July 2nd with the other Sav-On Tackle guided trip winner – George Gush




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