A quintuplet of hot takes to help finish your 2020 surf fishing season on a positive note.
As the fall run wears on, and October begrudgingly gives way to November, we as surfcasters must accept that the inevitable end to yet another season in the surf is on the horizon. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight it right out to the end.
1: Stick To The Night Tides
It is easy to forgo a night tide right now in favor of more human hours and the easy daytime bite, but if you want your best shot at one more truly large striped bass before you hang the rod for the winter then stick to your night owl ways. Add in that at times it’s downright freezing after dark this time of the season, and it makes it even more difficult of a pill to swallow. But know this: every big surf bass that I’ve landed in the late fall—and we’re talking real cows here, not fake Facebook Pro-Staff hero stuff—has been landed in the deep of the night. If there is a good bite at ‘Spot X’ by day, the odds are pretty good that things will be better under the cover of darkness.
2: Keep Your Head In The Game
This one is easier said than done, but don’t throw in the towel just because your last two outings produced little more than bags under your eyes. Big fish in the fall come in small, isolated shots, not long and drawn-out bites (usually.) The extreme ends of the season are the hardest to find success on large, but at least in the spring we have the prospect of new beginnings and several months of downtime to fuel the fire. Come October, November and December sheer determination is often all we have to go on, but when it pays of it usually does so in spades.
3: Network For Success
You should already have a solid network of anglers to gather intel, and in no part of the season is it more beneficial than the fall. With big fish on the move your efforts will be far better paid out if you can lead the reports as opposed to chasing them. Keep in mind that a network must go both ways and make sure that you return the favor when your boat buddy tips you off to a pod of cow bass they found a few miles east of one of your prime surf spots. But don’t just talk to the striper crew; sometimes the best tip comes from the boats out all day on the nearshore rocks hunting big, fall tog. They often see schools of bait and fish working their way down the coast, and if they happen across a pile of big bait then you want to know when and where!
4: Don’t Get Sloppy
Just because you’ve been going at it hard for the past six-plus months, there is no excuse for stupid mistakes. Tie fresh leaders, cut back that tired braid, swap out those dull and rusty hooks on your top plugs; a lost cow bass in November hurts that much more when it’s due to user error and it may just be your last shot of the season!
5: Know When To Call It Quits
Whether for the night or the year, there comes a time when your efforts are simply not going to pay off. This is another tough one to really define; you just sort of know when it’s time. One thing I have learned over the years is that no matter how late I fish into the season I often miss a bite or two and I’m ok with this so long as I learn from it. While I can’t count on there being a local mid-December blitz every year, I have learned what to look for to key me in on the chances of one developing and where to look. I also try to do my best at not going too hard on a night when things don’t feel right, saving my energy for the next tide when things look better.