During the fall months, anglers in coastal Louisiana set their sights on big reds feeding off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Hearing a little local scuttlebutt about rather large fish caught from shore, co-angler Noel Vick and I set out to Holly Beach with a selection of plastics, a couple of surf rods, and the building anticipation of landing a bull.

Not knowing much about the area, we scoped out frigatebirds to find schools of baitfish with hopes of finding a trophy. The day provided a lot of exercise as we chased birds up and down the beach and then waded in, casting from the water. My fishing partner soon experienced a fight that lasted over half an hour that produced a 44-inch red. I, on the other hand, caught a few jellyfish stings and one heck of a bird nest.

I don’t own a boat, so a lot of my fishing experiences take place from shore or while wading. Growing up a freshwater angler, I didn’t starting surf fishing until about 10 years ago with outings sometimes stretching years apart. There are so many different varieties of surf fishing that each time I’ve gotten one of these opportunities, they’ve been so diverse that I’ve never really become comfortable with it. Even so, I enjoy the sport and often wish I could “study up” before I hit the coast. There’s a lot to learn from choosing the right rod and reel to rigging the right bait to reading the surf or bait fish. I’ve picked up tips from friends and from locals in the areas I visit, but it still can be overwhelming.

This year, Florida Sportsman released a new book, Sportsman’s Best: Surf Fishing by David A. Brown. In it, Brown explains tips and techniques for surf fishing along coastlines across the country. Not only does the book cover fishing techniques like choosing the right bait to reading the surf to safety tips, it is separated by geographical region—it’s a how-to and where-to read. Some of the country’s best surf fishing photographers contributed to the more than 250 full-color shots of fish, coastline, gear, and tackle.

I’m the queen of the bird nest—especially when casting into an ocean breeze. I’ve gotten quite good at turning away from those I’m fishing with to hide the fact that I’m trying to untangle my line. I only use a spinning reel to try to minimize the cluster of inevitable mess that will have me cussing more than casting. Imagine the smile that crept across my face when I read Brown’s tips for preventing and untangling snarls.

This book immediately sucked me in. My copy is tattered and worn because I’ve actually read it cover to cover. In fact, it was so useful that some of our catch was tattered and worn from a shark lured in by the techniques. It has provided me with information about angling but also given me new ideas about places to visit. Also included in the book is a DVD that features Brown explaining the core concepts of surf fishing and additional on-scene instructional material.

Sportsman’s Best: Surf Fishing retails for $19.95 It is available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, local retailers, and in the Florida Sportsman online store.

Image courtesy Dena Woerner

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