How to Fish Successfully from Shore

Shore fishing is something that doesn't require an investment in engines, gas or expenses associated with boating. But, it can be as productive as fishing from a $60,000 center console. A lot of us that have boats should consider spending more of our time with our angling feet on the ground. This article will give you some insight into how to increase your shore bound results.

You wanna see something interesting? Look at a group of anglers fishing from the shore. Watch them cast their lures or baits. Study people fishing on the beach, a sea wall, or a dock, and you see a common thread: they are all trying to outcast each other. Some are better than others, and some equipment proves to be better suited to long-distance casts. There are some anglers -- us among them -- who are starting to use kites to extend our reach from the beach. There certainly are times when the fish are far from where you're standing. But, before you learn to reach the fish that are one hundred feet or yards away, learn about the ones underneath where you are standing.


Shore fishing is something that doesn't require an investment in engines, gas or expenses associated with boating. But, it can be as productive as fishing from a $60,000 center console. A lot of us that have boats should consider spending more of our time with our angling feet on the ground. This article will give you some insight into how to increase your shore bound results.

We are going to talk about shore fishing. More accurately, we are going to talk about the type of structure you are most likely to encounter where the water meets the shoreline. If you think more about that structure, you will catch more fish from shore. Watching people fish, which we do on a regular basis as part of producing this site, we are amazed at how many anglers pay more attention to how far they can cast, as opposed to where they are casting. Bait placement is far more important than casting distance, but you wouldn't know that by watching the typical shore angler. Once you think about it, the concept of casting closer to the shoreline will gain its rightful place in your technique library.

Fishing the structure

Try finding a place where people fish from shore at the same time people are nearby in a boat. Surf fishing is an excellent example of this you can see it on our own Gulf coast, on the Atlantic side, or in the Keys. You will see people on the shore casting as far away from where they're standing, while the people in the boats are doing something strange.

The people on the boats are anchored or drifting as close to the beach as they can, and casting not away from the beach, but towards it. Why are the anglers on the beach casting far away while the anglers in the boat are literally casting underneath their feet? The answer is…the anglers in the boat are fishing where the fish are. The people on the beach will catch a share of fish, but not as many as the guys on the boat that are casting closer to the shoreline.

Topography of the bottom


Understanding nearshore structure may very well change the way you think about fishing from the shoreline. We can promise that if you incorporate this simple technique into your fishing techniques, it will improve the odds and you will get more strikes. It all has to do with fishing where the fish are. Fishing where the fish are is why 90% of the fish caught on any given day are caught --or so it's said -- by a mere 10% of the fishermen out there.

Know structure and you will learn more about how fish behave; or more accurately, where they behave the way they do. If you think about the (literally) thousands of miles of shoreline we have around where we live, that's a lot of potentially fish-holding structure we're talking about.

Let's start with one of the most important things to consider: topography. Topography is something you will hear us talking about again and again in our stories. That's because the most important thing you can learn about fish behavior is where exactly they're doing the behaving.


It seems to make sense to cast perpendicular to where you're standing when you're fishing from shore. The fish must be far away, right? The further you can cast away from yourself the better, right? Actually, where you cast is far more important than how far you cast. Cast in the right direction from where you're standing, and your bait or lure will be overtop of where the fish actually are, more than twice as much, as if you cast far but perpendicular to where you're positioned.

Side Views

You look down onto the surface of the water from the sky. Even considering that most of us have bottom sonar that theoretically shows us what the bottom looks like, the circle it's showing is only the water directly underneath you. When you're talking about fishing from the shoreline, a lot of them are exactly the same. Granted, a sea wall or pier has a different water line than a beach does; however, there are a lot of things that are exactly the same. For the purpose of this article, we're going to be writing about sea walls, shorelines, and yeah, beaches. If you're fishing on a pier there are some differences and special considerations to make when you're looking for feeding fish.

fishing-from-shore-Shoreline Drop-Off

This graphic shows that the drop-off – the place where the shoreline meets the water – 'steps down' until it goes beyond your reach. It might be a sharp drop-off, or it might be somewhat smoother (as we indicate here). But there's a drop-off. The colored bars represent different depths

Predators are efficient. They could be called Lazy, because they try to avoid moving any more than they absolutely have to. What this means is that they sit and wait for bait. Although large-school, open-water predators like ladyfish, bluefish, mackerel, or tuna don't pick a place to sit around, many of our target species – including snook – pick a place to wait while they fan their beautiful fins.

Casting in the Right Direction: The Fan

Think of the distance you can throw a bait or lure. For sake of the argument, let's say that you can throw it 60'. If we're right – and we are – and the fish are largely hanging at the drop-off, (not in the deepest water you can reach) if you cast sideways, 100% of your cast would be overtop of the fish, instead of 50%, like our picture shows. Cast straight away from the shore – perpendicular – and half of your lure's time on the water is over a desert. No bait, no fish, and certainly no strikes.

fishing-from-shore-Shoreline Angler-03

Casting straight away from the shore puts your bait out of the strike zone more than half the time it's in the water

shore fishing casting technique

The solution – a fan – lets you walk less, too. If you cast straight away from the shoreline, you have to move ten feet to the right or left to cover different ground. Change the slight angle of the fan relative to your position and the shoreline, and you can cut your stopping-to-cast events in thirds. More time walking is less time casting; using the fan keeps you from doing a great deal of walking.

fishing-from-shore-Shoreline Angler-08

The use of the fan – fishing first to the left and then to the right – dramatically increases the amount of time you're lure's over top of the hungry fish. You can fish longer without moving, too. You will be amazed at the difference in strikes you receive using the fan method versus standing in one place, while making three perpendicular casts, and moving 10' or 20'.

Use the fan-casting technique regularly when fishing from shore

Whether or not you have a boat, shore fishing makes a lot of sense. You can get on the water quicker, you spend a lot less money, and you can catch more fish than you can shake a whitebait at. Try parking lots, the walkways where bridges meet land, seawalls, and anyplace there's a place to stand and a drop-off. Trust us when we say the drop-off is always there. It might be a wall that goes 90 degrees to the bottom, but it's more likely to be the shape we showed in the graphic. Find a spot like that, and your luck will improve, and your pockets will stay healthier.


The best way to apply the technique we're talking about – which is to cast on top of the edge of the drop-off instead of perpendicular to the shoreline – is to picture a fan like you see in oriental movies.

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