Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

Demystifying the Beach
It had to be done

By Russ Bassdozer

Where should I fish?  It's early September, and that will be an often asked question for a lot of guys who will be hitting the beaches the next few weeks. Even guys who only fish the surf occasionally or who generally fish back bays and sheltered waters will be crawling out "front" to hit the suds a few times for the fall run. The pilgrimage is on!

"Any beach" is the easy answer right now. That's right! Practically any beach along the entire striper coast is currently infested with mass quantities of mullet, peanut bunker, peanut herring, assorted smaller baitfish and plenty of snappers and baby weakfish chopping them up in the first break. Fishing has been very predictable from late afternoon going into dusk and again at dawn. The simple key to success right now is to get out a little early in the afternoon to drive the coast a few miles. Spot check ANY accessible places looking for signs of birds, bait and fish. You can usually spot them, and get action from late afternnon into dusk and early night. Of course, you can return to those same spots at dawn or hit those same spots for some late night innings too if you are a night fisherman.

What to use? As for myself, the Super Strike Little Neck poppers and leadheads with 4" plastic shads have been dependable in day time for me. Several evenings the fish clearly preferred Charlie Graves tins at sundown. Transitioning into the early darkness, I am getting good action off small blue-backed Danny metal lip surface swimmers leaving a pronounced vee wake. At night, small white Super Strike bottle plugs, various plastic lip swimmers, rigged and plastic eels for me.

Where to cast? So the hot spot right now is "any beach". But when you're standing in the sand on "any beach", where exactly do you cast for best results when you get there?

That's the topic for the rest of this article. How to dissect the layout of any sand beach, and how to target the best spots on any beach for best results. I have fished many surf areas on the east, west, and gulf coasts, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. I have found several generalities about all sand beaches everywhere. I would like to share them with you. Basically, I find that there are only four primary sand structures that define the character of a beach and that attract fish to feed on a beach.

All fish-attracting sand structures on the beach can fit into one of the four following descriptions:


  • What is it? Points extend out from shore and can be way big or surprisingly small protrusions. The classic point configuration extends out at right angles to the beach. Sometimes the beach may take a turn and it may look more like a "bend", but it still is a big, rounded point to me. At the other extreme, even the smallest of points generate small, hardly noticable "rips" very close into the beach. On an otherwise straight stretch, fish will linger off the smallest of points. Sometimes, points are actually the beginnings of sand bars, and in these cases, I categorize and fish them as bars (see below), not as points.
  • How to fish? It is not uncommon to have wadable shoal water, more white water, and a faster sweep going past points. It is classic for fish to feed at the "tip" of a point, including right on the tip, or in the open water to the left or right of the tip. Going back towards the beach, anywhere along the sloping sides of a sandy point can hold fish, particularly in the "pocket" which is a scooped out depression just out from the base of the point on both sides.


  • What is it? Bowls indent into the shore and typically form between two points. Bowls can be wide and deep in a classic "teacup" configuration. At the other extreme, they can look like hardly much more than a straight, featureless stretch between points - but still a bowl - as you will see as wind and tide subtly shape it over time.
  • How to fish? Fish along both the upper right and upper left "rims" of a bowl, especially towards the area where the upper rims of a bowl begin to transition into the base of a point. Also fish the very apex, or dead center of the bowl, which often holds good bait and fish.


  • What is it? Troughs are long depressions that parallel the shoreline or parallel sand bars (see below). Sometimes, but not always, a trough can exist paralleling the sides of a bowl or a straight stretch even if there is no accompanying bar further out from shore. But usually, a trough accompanies and parallels sand bars.
  • How to fish? Fish often prefer to feed along the sloping sides of a trough rather than in its center - particularly if the side of a trough has a stiff upper "lip" where the edge of the trough transitions into the adjacent shallower structure (bar or beach). It is important to note that troughs have both an "inside" edge and an "outside" edge, but fish show a tendency to gravitate towards whichever edge is the sharpest, which may change sides as the trough meanders down the beach.


  • What is it? Sand bars parallel the shore, often for long distances. On some beaches, there may not be any bar at all. On other beaches (or parts thereof), there is typically only one bar, but some beaches have a series of several bars running progressively further out paralleling the beach. Troughs often gouge out long depressions along both the inside and outside edges of a bar. Typically, the most important bar is the outer bar. Generally, bars are really only wadable towards low tide. Often, however, the bar is too far offshore to wade even at low tide. However, if you can reach the inside edge of the bar on a long cast from shore, you can be rewarded big time. If you are new to surf fishing, then there's two more words you should know about wading bars, and you've got to make sure they aren't your last words either: BE CAREFUL. Be careful if you try to cross through troughs, and ALWAYS make sure you can cross back safely after fishing on the bar.
  • How to fish? It is not uncommon to have wadable shoal water, more white water, and a faster sweep along the entire lengths of bars. Fish will usually feed along the outer sloping front side of the bar- particularly the bottom where the sloping front of the bar ends and transitions into the lip of the trough. A "cut" is a classic and highly productive spot where the water cuts through the bar, forming a "tip". The cut forms a channel at right angles to the bar where water from the inner and outer troughs sluices through between the bar, which is now cut. NEVER try to wade through a cut. It's suicidal. A cut can range from (1) very treacherous "rip" water running right in the cut, often full of fish, or (2) it can be a more complacent cut that doesn't exactly rip but which scoops out depressions or "holes" that hold fish just inside and just outside of the cut, or (3) a a really good cut can form both rips and holes.

That's it! Points, bowls, bars and troughs are the only four primary sand structures on a beach. Other sand structures are secondary and cannot exist without the presence of a point, bowl, bar or trough. These secondary sand structures include the tips, pockets, cuts, rips, slopes and holes that we mentioned.

The coolest patterns form. The coolest thing is to consciously make note of the exact kinds of primary/secondary structure where you hit fish. Why? Because you can then usually move down the beach and continue to hit fish in the exact identical types of structures for many miles. That is, if you bang fish on the right hand tip of a bar, the fish will pretty much be hitting on the right hand tips of all bars down the beach. That is, if you take fish dead center in a bowl, or in the left pocket of a point, then you can move along to the dead centers of other bowls, or the left hand pockets of other points - and expect to catch fish in these exact same areas. Often, this becomes a pattern, which may last for a night, a few nights, a week, or even form an extended pattern for an entire season. I can fondly recall one beach where the fish were all in the bowls one fall, and all on the points the next fall. You need to find out what the fish are doing, exactly what structures they are doing it on, and focus your efforts to be doing your thing in the same spots that the fish are doing their thing.

It's reading the beach made easy! A lot of times people make a big issue about "reading the beach". But it is easy if you just focus on finding these four primary structures - points, bowls, troughs and bars - and then target the secondary "spots on the spots".

You can dissect the layout of any sand beach into these four well-defined structures. Then you can methodically fish them, thereby identifying which structures the fish are currently using and equally important, discover which structures the fish are NOT currently using. If you do so, you can confidently eliminate unproductive types of spots for the moment, and you can consistently put yourself in the company of gamefish all up and down "any beach" where gamesters are using these four primary structures - and especially the secondary "spots on the spots" to put on the fall feed bag.

Especially if you are new to the surf, welcome, and I hope you will gain some elementary knowledge of sand beaches from this post. Hope it helps you find many large surf fish over the next few weeks and over the following seasons!

[ Bass Fishing | Surf Fishing | Surf LuresSurf Articles | Surf Forums | Surf Links | Surf Cams | Surf Books | About Us | Email Us | Disclaimer / Terms of Use ]
Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats