What's better than a day at the beach? A day spent fishing at the beach.
With rod and reel in hand, you can enjoy the sun, the surf and sand in your toes-and with a little luck, dinner on the hook.
From Hilton Head Island to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's coastline offers anglers prime fishing grounds to target inshore fish like flounder, black drum, pompano and the ever-popular fighting redfish.
While October is the peak time to catch bull reds along the beach, surf fishing for redfish is productive spring to late fall. Try casting around sandbars and jetties where schools of baitfish congregate. The voracious redfish can usually be found cruising the surrounding currents for anything they can get their mouth around.
That includes chunks of fresh cut or live finger mullet, frozen shrimp, squid or a quarter of a blue crab. If you're after pompano, you might be able to dig up your own mole crabs, otherwise known as sand fleas, from wet beach sand.
Wherever you decide to cast into the surf, you'll need some special equipment to improve your odds-and your comfort. A sand spike is essential to hold your rod upright and ready for a strike. They're usually made of PVC pipe and are sharpened at one end to make it easier to drive them into the sand.
If it's high tide and you're going to be casting close to shore, a six- or seven-foot surf rod will get the job done. To launch your bait and weight farther out, you'll need a 10- to 12-footer. The extra length also helps keeps your line out of the breaking waves.
You'll find "surf rats" using big saltwater spinning reels packed with 20- or 25-pound monofilament lines. Anything lighter could snap in mid-cast. Serious surf veterans typically set out four to six lines. If you're using regular J hooks, set the reel's drag light and be ready to pounce when you see the rod tip bend.
Your tackle box should include several different types and weights of sinkers, allowing you to adjust your rig based on the currents. In a strong rip current, a sharp-edged five-ounce pyramid sinker will work best.
Surf carts are not must-have gear, but you'll wish you had one after hauling a cooler, a couple of rods, a tackle box and a beach chair from your car to the shore. These little lifesavers are equipped with several rod holders and fat tires for rolling through the sand.
Once you've got all your rods and reels cast into the surf zone, sit back, pop open a cold drink and enjoy the view.