Beginners Guide to Saltwater Fishing

New to saltwater fishing? Read on to learn everything you need to know before you go.

What is Saltwater Fishing?

While saltwater fishing is the broad term for any fishing that takes place in the ocean, the term includes a variety of fishing methods.  Saltwater fishing can be done on a boat, on a pier, off of rocks, or while scuba or snorkel fishing. While freshwater fishing still reigns as the most popular type of fishing to engage in, saltwater fishing is growing in popularity for several reasons.

First, you have several options for switching up how you choose to fish. You could do an early morning on a pier one day and spend the evening trolling the waves the next. The variety in fishing options extends to the fish — with saltwater fishing there is a wider variety of fish to catch.  Some of the most popular saltwater fish are Striped Bass, Bluefish, Red Drum, King Salmon, Pacific Halibut, Tuna, Albacore, or Cod. Depending on what source of saltwater you’ll be fishing in will determine which type of fish you can catch, check here for a list what fish can be found in the ocean near you.

Anglers also enjoy saltwater fishing for the added adventure and excitement. While freshwater fishing is generally associated with a relaxing day at the lake, saltwater fishing can include the thrill of the chase, hunting down huge fish that only thrive in the ocean waters. The bigger fish tend to put up a bigger fight, adding to the great reward when you reel in your man-sized fish.

Equipment Needed for Saltwater Fishing

With all fishing you’ll need some basic equipment to get started. Saltwater fishing is known for being a more expensive hobby because you’ll need a bigger boat and heavy duty rods and tools for reeling in big fish. To get started with saltwater fishing you’ll need,

  • License
  •  A boat
  •  The right rod
  •  Saltwater fishing tools
  • Bait

Always remember your license. Every state has its own fishing regulations, so you want to make sure you are following them. There are short-term to long-termed licenses available. To get licensed click here.

If you are deep-sea fishing then you will need to buy or rent a boat to use. The boat will need to be bigger than boats you would fish with in freshwater. It also needs to be able to handle the harsh conditions of salt water, and be able to have the strength, stability, and power to reel in the bigger catch.

The right rod depends on what bait you are going to use, where you are fishing, and what fish you are going to catch. Keep these in mind while purchasing a rod

-When it says “Power” on a rod that means the weight the rod is capable of carrying.

-Longer rods will cast farther, but shorter rods can fight the fish with more power.

-High-speed reels are really great for fast baits, but low-speed reels are more powerful for fighting the fish.

You need the right saltwater fishing tools, like gaffs and nets, pliers and scissors to cut wire, fishing knives, and a hook remover. Go check out the best saltwater fishing supplies, including rods, and motors.

Best Bait to use while Saltwater Fishing

To truly succeed at saltwater fishing you’ll want to follow the fishing mantra of “Match the Hatch,” which means that you need to match the bait to the type of fish you hope to catch. A sailfish loves to eat flying fish and ballyhoo, so trolling with those will raise your chances of success much higher than a shellfish on your hook.

If you don’t have a specific type of fish in mind when you set out then you’ll at least want to stick with saltwater live bait.

  • Shellfish- This type of live bait is favorited by a lot of saltwater fish and comes in a variety of species including clams, mussels and crabs. Clams can be slippery to work with and crabs require special techniques to stop them from having a claw clamp down on a hook, but if that’s the preferred bait of the fish you’re seeking then it’s worth the effort.
  • Cut Bait- Cut bait carries a strong aroma, drawing in lots of saltwater fish. Cut bait is made by cutting up a bait fish that you caught during the day. Fish like sea bass, mahi mahi and bluefish are drawn to cut bait.
  • Shrimp- Shrimp is considered a go-to bait for saltwater fishermen. Because shrimp is a common food for saltwater fish, it can attract fish of all sizes. Fish are attracted to both the scent and the movement of shrimp bait.
  • Bait Fish- Using a fish as bait for larger predators can help draw in big fish. Eels, ballyhoo and pilchards are common types of bait fish and will draw in a catch with their movement and scent.

Best Places to go Saltwater Fishing

Fishing spots are personal preferences, but there are some things to keep in mind while picking the best one. Do you want somewhere busy, or somewhere more remote? How far do you want to travel? What fish species do you want to fish? Look online for tourist guides, and other information about the spot you want to head out.

Also, click here for a list of the top 15 places to go Saltwater fishing in the U.S.

Other Tips and Tricks with Saltwater Fishing

1. Ask the locals. The locals know a lot about the best times to fish, bait to use, and fishing spots to check out. Wherever you decide to fish, ask the locals for tips, and check out bait and tackle stores nearby.

2. Join Facebook groups or online saltwater fishing communities. Members can help you get started, learn the best places to fish, and offer more tips and tricks with posts or videos. Here is a popular saltwater fishing Facebook group. Some groups are for saltwater fishing in specific states, which is nice if you will be fishing in that particular state.

3. Get a fish finder. It is an electronic tool that can help you locate fish. It is very effective and helpful.

4. Remember that salt can corrode metal, so make sure to rinse off your equipment after your trip.

5. Remember safety first. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back, and practice good safety habits while on the water.

If you would like more tips and tricks when it comes to saltwater fishing, check out this ebook, “A Quick Start Guide to Saltwater Fishing.” It’s free, has lots of helpful information, and is a short read.

Follow those tips and before you know it you’ll be a saltwater fishing pro.