Surf: Revisiting Your Past - The Fisherman

Surf: Revisiting Your Past

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Experience can help us see old spots through a new set of eyes and the results can be impressive.

Moving on from old hotspots can be a mistake!

There is immense pressure on surfcasters to evolve. This pressure has been compounded by a factor of 1,000 in the social media age. Curated realities flood across our screens and make us feel like we have to keep up with the digital Joneses. This thirst for bigger fish to be packaged into better photos, has caused many surfcasters to force their evolution and they have missed a lot along the way as a result. But even the more ‘organic’ evolutionary process leaves little gems glittering in the wake – as long as we don’t forget to look back, now and then.

When I think back to my first couple seasons of really taking surfcasting seriously, the places I fished then are mostly places I don’t even think about now. But every once in a while, I force myself to walk back through my own ancient footprints and fish them again. Yes, some of these spots really do lack something and are clear indications that my thought process hadn’t yet matured when I poured hours into it 20 year ago. But in other instances I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my advances in technique, reading the water and knowing what makes sense as far as plug selection and presentation are concerned have shed new light on an old spot.

The first time this happened was more than 10 years ago. It had been a windy week and the surf was a mess of suspended silt and debris. I thought back to a trip at the beginning of my surf fishing ‘career’ when I was faced with similar conditions and had some modest success fishing the clean water exiting the mouth of a harbor. My fishing partner and I were dead-set on fishing in spite of the less-than-stellar conditions so we elected to try that same exact spot. With 10 years of experience to add to fishing that location, we caught four fish over 30 pounds with the dumping tide petering out right at first light. I’m certain we would not have had those results anywhere else we might have fished.

Another way surfcasting evolution can leave a spot off the list is when you discover a new spot that fishes well under the same sets of conditions. I’m obsessive by nature so when I land in a new spot that’s producing good fish I will obsess over it and fish it hard through different tides and conditions in an attempt to break it down and analyze it as quickly as possible. One such spot lived under my nose for 15 years before I discovered it! I can’t even fathom how I overlooked it for so long!

After a couple years of obsessive fishing, I had the tide window down and knew the conditions that really lit the place on fire. The bad thing was all of those variables were the same for another one of my favorite spots and this new one barely required any walking, while the other waited at the end of a nearly 2-mile hike! My success in the new spot was consistent, and before long, my hikes to the old favorite became less and less frequent.

There was one set of variables that didn’t work with the new spot, a light southeast wind and calm seas. Those conditions came up and I almost didn’t go out that night. But a little voice told me to make the long walk. The fish were there, like they were supposed to be, and I even had a really nice fish that night.

These are just a few examples of the many I could highlight where revisiting the thought paths of my past resulted in rediscovery. I’m not sure there’s another hobby on the planet that forces its practitioners to make more in-the-moment decisions than surfcasting. And of course, we can only do what our time, the tides and conditions will allow. But if you find yourself fishing through a rough patch or if even if your trips are successful but flat-lining, consider shaking things up by revisiting a place you’ve moved on from, your experience may help you see it in a new light.

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