Surf fishing – how to get fish looking for your bait

Surf fishing – how to get fish looking for your bait

A small bait in the surf doesn’t do much to attract fish.


Think about it… you’ve cast in a rig with one hook and a small piece of bait. There’s a whole lot of water mixed with your bait so it can take a while for fish to smell it….and even longer to find it! 


So what do you do to change this and make sure all the fish in the area know “dinners on”?


The easiest thing to do is put berley in the water. Something with a high oil content and plenty of interesting smells that stimulate fish into looking for food.


The first thing to do when you get to the beach is look for those fish holding areas. If you can find where the fish are hiding and then put something in the water to attract them you’ll skyrocket your chances of hooking those fish.


So, get to the highest point on the beach you can and watch the surf. Look for where waves are breaking…and where they’re not. Waves break over shallow water so look where incoming waves flatten out before they hit the shore. These flat areas are deeper water.


The waves break in the shallow water and if it remains shallow all the way to shore they just roll in like regular waves…but if they flatten out for a distance before reforming into waves again you’ve found a hole or channel. That flat area with no wave is deeper… if it’s deep enough and long enough it could hold fish. 


Once you’ve found your spot you want to get fish in the area thinking about food.


Throw some berley pellets in the shallow water in front of you. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t reach the hole you’re going to fish because the wave action will pull out the smells into all the surrounding water and get the fish interested.


The next, and most important, thing you’ll need is what I call a “berley coil”. I call it that cos it’s a simple to make coil of wire with a weight on one end that you can mould berley around.. It puts berley right next to your bait…so where ever you cast you have berley working for you!


The berley coil is real simple. Just get some wire that you can bend to look a spring. It will have a hook tied on one end and your mainline on the other…

and make sure it’s easy to bend but strong enough to hold its shape under pressure when you hook a decent sized fish.


All you have to do is take a length of wire, say 20cm, and wrap it around some sort of tube like a permanent marker pen, piece of wooden dowel or even a pencil. The idea is to produce a piece of wire in the shape of a spring.  


Wrap the wire around the tube about 5 or 6 times. Make sure you leave spare wire at both ends of the coil. These spare ends will be bent into a loop to hold a swivel. The swivels will stop line twists when you tie one end to your main line and the other end to your hook length.


Once you have made your coil, place a ball or bean sinker on one of the spare ends. Make sure the sinker is big enough to cast out and hold positon in the surf for a while…but not so big they bury themselves in the sand… you want your tackle to move a bit with the surf. This will let you explore the area in front of you with your bait.


After the right size sinker is attached make a loop at each end of the wire. Slide a swivel onto each loop then close the loop so the swivels are secured.


Your berley coil is now complete.


So now you have your coil…you need berley to make it work!

All you have to do is start with a good berley base and then add the tuna oil and fish pieces.


I’ve used tinned cat food, the stuff with fish pieces in it, and this worked real well. The fish pieces are soft and can be minced into small particles. These particles get washed around so the fish find them….but they only get enough to spike their appetites.


The key to mixing your berley is not to start with too much oil or fish.


Get your berley stiff enough to stay in the coil for about 10 minutes…this works the best. It might take a bit of experimentation until you get it just right but once you do you’ll know….the bites will come.


The last thing to work on is your technique.


You want to cast out and keep tension on your line so you can feel bites. When you cast out the surf will move your bait and coil around.


That’s OK.


Just wind in slowly and keep the tension on your line…you should be able to feel every movement and bite.


If the rig washes in too fast it’s too light and needs a bigger sinker attached. If it gets buried in the sand it’s too heavy…so it’s worth having a few different weighted coils made up so you can change if you need to. 


After a while you’ll work out a rhythm with this method:

  • cast out
  • reel in slowly to keep tension
  • put on more berley
  • cast out again.


By doing this you’ll cover a lot of water and if you get the berley right then a lot more fish will know there’s food around. 


Surf fishing can be exciting….but sometimes there’s nothing around…

…so having a few options like the berley coil give you another method to try….and sometimes gets the big ones in.


Give it a shot.



  • Ngun Mang
    Posted at 02:04h, 22 January Reply

    How you mixed spy’si chiken please

    • admin
      Posted at 09:19h, 24 January Reply

      the Spicy Chicken Formula is on my website in the Shop section.

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