Hunting Big Game in the Surf

Surf fishing can be an extremely rewarding experience. The sense of accomplishment one feels when battling a big fish in the surf is unmatched. That said, surf fishing is also notoriously difficult. The conditions are often tough, the fish are smart and spooky, and there are a million things that can go wrong.

If you’re going to be successful at surf fishing, you need to put in the time to learn the ropes and master the techniques. And even then, there will be days when the fish don’t cooperate.

But when everything comes together, and you finally land that big fish, it will all be worth it.

big game surf fishing
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The Different Types of Big Game That You Can Hunt in the Surf

Here are a few tips to help you start surf fishing for the big game. But before that:

Big game surf fishing is a challenging and unique way to fish. It requires knowledge of the ocean, waves, tides, and currents and the ability to read the water. But it can be extremely rewarding, providing an angler with the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish.

You can hunt many different types of big game in the surf. Some of the most popular include:


Tarpon are one of the most popular fishes to hunt in the surf. They are large seven feet, powerful fish that can weigh up to 200 pounds. They are known for their acrobatic leaps and hard runs. Tarpons can be found in both saltwater and freshwater environments.


Shark hunting is a popular surf fishing activity. Many different types of sharks are found in the surf, including mako sharks, hammerhead sharks, and great white sharks.

Shark hunting can be dangerous, so it is important to be knowledgeable about the species of shark you are hunting and to have the proper safety gear.

Listen to more fishing tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast

Tips for Hunting Big Game in the Surf

Hunting for the big game in the surf can be a great challenge. But with the right tips, you can make it a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to help you hunt big game in the surf:

Choose the Right Spot

When surf fishing, it’s important to choose a spot with plenty of fish. Look for areas where the waves are breaking and there is a lot of movement in the water.

This is where you’re likely to find the most fish. If you’re targeting a specific type of fish, you may want to research where they typically congregate.

Use the Right Bait

The type of bait you use will be determined by the type of fish you’re trying to catch. Live bait is often the best choice for big game fish. This is because they are attracted to the movement of the bait.

If you’re using artificial bait, choose something that will mimic the appearance and movement of a real fish.

The Right Tackle for Big Game Surf Fishing

Big game fish can be quite strong, so you’ll need to use the right tackle to reel them in. Choose a rod and reel that are designed for saltwater fishing. This will ensure that they can handle the weight of the fish you’re trying to catch.

You’ll also need to use heavier lines than you would for smaller fish. This will help you avoid breaking your line when the fish takes off.

This is what Gary and Kaspar Kazazian, authors of California Surf Fishing: The Hunt for Big Fish, said, “But the way that we treat Bait weight is with heavy gear, so we have long rods 11, 12 to, to pull these bigger fish out of the rocks. It’s tough terrain, a difficult structure that you can break off. So you need some of this heavy gear to catch these fish.”

Be Patient

Patience is key when surf fishing. Big game fish can be difficult to catch, and it may take some time before you can reel one in. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Keep trying, and you’ll eventually have success.

Be Prepared for the Fight

When you finally hook a big game fish, be prepared for a fight. These fish can put up a good fight, so be ready to reel them in quickly. Use your rod and reel to help you keep the line tight and bring the fish in as quickly as possible.

Enjoy the Experience

Hunting the big game in the surf can be a great experience. So, make sure you enjoy it. Take in the sights and sounds of the ocean and savor the feeling of finally landing that big fish.

Techniques Used for Big Game Surf Fishing

When surf fishing for the big game, you’ll need to know how to present your bait to maximize your chances of success properly. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you catch big game fish in the surf.

Use Live Bait

According to Gary and Kaspar Kazazian, “If you want a more comfortable form of fishing, which you don’t move around a lot, you’re going to choose bait.”

One of the best ways to catch big game fish in the surf is to use live bait. This will give you the best chance of success because the fish will be attracted to the movement of the bait.

A live bait commonly used for big game surf fishing is a mullet. Additionally, using live bait will also help keep the fish from getting spooked.

Use Artificial Lures

If you’re not using live bait, you’ll need to use artificial lures. When choosing an artificial lure, it’s important to select one that imitates the type of baitfish that the fish you’re targeting are feeding on. Using artificial lures makes you more likely to get a strike from a big game fish.

As Gary and Kaspar Kazazian said, “But if you want a little bit more of an immersive walking around the beach casting and retrieving, looking at poles and stuff, you wanna do lure fishing.”

Use the Proper Tackle

It’s important to use the right tackle when big game surf fishing. This means using a rod and reel that are designed for saltwater fishing.

Additionally, you’ll need to use heavier lines than you would for smaller fish. This will help you avoid breaking your line when the fish takes off.

“I can put so much power with that reel on the fish, and I don’t feel like it’s going to break on me. I was using other cheaper reels for a while, and it pretty quickly broke,” Gary and Kaspar Kazazian said.

Cast Your Bait Out

You’ll need to do so with enough force to get it out past the breakers when you’re ready to cast your bait out. Once your bait is in the water, you’ll need to wait for a fish to take the bait.

When a fish does bite, you’ll need to set the hook and start reeling in your catch.

Fight the Fish Properly

Once you’ve set the hook, it’s important to fight the fish properly to land it. You’ll need to keep your rod tip up and use a pumping motion with your arms to tire out the fish.

Bring the Fish in Safely

Once you’ve tired out the fish, you’ll need to bring it in safely. To do this, you’ll need to use a landing net. Once you have the fish in the net, you can bring it onto the shore and remove the hook.

Hunting Big Game in the Surf: The Pros

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter looking for a new challenge or a novice considering taking up the sport, hunting big game in the surf can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But it’s not without its risks and challenges. Here’s a look at some of the pros of hunting big game in the surf.

The Thrill of the Hunt 

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of tracking and stalking your prey in the open surf. And when you finally get within range and take that perfect shot, the sense of satisfaction and achievement is hard to beat.

Access to Some of the Rarest Games

Nothing beats the feeling of heading out into the unknown in pursuit of a big game. And when you’re surf hunting, you have access to some of the rarest and most sought-after games. This includes species like the blue marlin, one of the most prized catches in big game fishing.

The Sense of Adventure 

When you go surf hunting, you’re embarking on an adventure. There’s the excitement of heading out into the unknown and the challenge of tracking and stalking your prey in difficult conditions. It’s an experience that you’ll never forget.

The Camaraderie of the Hunt

Hunting is often seen as a solitary sport, but surf hunting can be a great way to meet new people and make new friends. There’s nothing quite like sharing a successful hunt with fellow enthusiasts.

The Rewards of the Catch

Surf hunting can be incredibly productive, with good catches of big game fish like marlin, tuna, and swordfish not uncommon. And, of course, there’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh-caught seafood.

Hunting Big Game in the Surf: The Cons

Hunting the big game in the surf can be a hazardous and daunting task, not for the faint of heart. You are up against some of the world’s most massive and powerful animals, but you’re doing it in one of the most hostile environments.

Here are some of the cons to hunting big game in the surf.

You’re Dealing with Giant, Wild Animals

In hunting, the big game in the surf is that you’re dealing with gigantic, dangerous animals. These creatures are used to living in the wild and are not afraid to use their size and strength to defend themselves. If you’re not careful, you could easily find yourself on the receiving end of a serious injury.

The Elements Are Against You

The elements are not in your favor. Not only are you dealing with giant, wild animals, but you’re also up against the wind, the waves, and the cold. If you’re not prepared, the elements can quickly take their toll on you.

It’s Incredibly Difficult

“I fish pretty areas with a lot of reefs, right? Since some pretty tough, rugged structures,” according to Gary and Kaspar Kazazian.

Make no mistake; hunting big game in the surf is no easy feat. It’s a physically and mentally demanding task that requires a great deal of skill and experience. If you’re not up for the challenge, you could find yourself in your head.

You Could Easily Get Lost

Another con to hunting big game in the surf is that it’s easy to get lost. With all of the waves and wind, it can be hard to keep track of where you are. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself miles from shore with no idea how to get back.

It’s Expensive

Between the cost of the equipment and the cost of the trip, it can be very pricey to hunt the big game in the surf. If you’re not prepared to spend a lot of money, you might want to consider another option.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hunter, hunting big game in the surf can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You will have the opportunity to take home some great trophies, but you’ll also enjoy the incredible scenery and wildlife that coastal areas offer.

Successfully hunting big game in the surf takes a great deal of skill, experience, and knowledge. If you’re not prepared for the challenge, getting injured or lost is easy.

It’s also important to be aware of the dangers and be willing to accept the risks. Just be sure to go into it with your eyes wide open and be prepared for anything.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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