Home Fishing Tips & Advice Best Time of Day to Surf Fish (Catch More Fish!)

Best Time of Day to Surf Fish (Catch More Fish!)

Surf fishing is when you wade in the surf or stand on the shoreline to cast your line to catch fish. It may or may not include casting bait or a lure. If you enjoy this type of fishing or want to try it, there are several things to consider. Generally, the best time of the day to surf fish is two hours before and after dusk and from dawn to 10 AM. Time also covers the day, weather situation, time of the year, phase of the moon, and tidal movements.

Best Time of the Year

This refers to whether you should go during the spring or fall because if you go in the summer or winter, you are not going to catch as many fish. One reason that summer is not a good time is that there are too many people inhabiting the beaches, even during the best time to surf fish and winter, the water may be too cold for them.

Best Time of the Day

This has already been stated but why those particular times? This is the nocturnal feeding habits of most fish. The low light during this time will provide more cover for the fish to hide when they are near shore. The darkness also makes it less energy consuming and easier for the larger predatory fish to surprise the smaller prey so you can expect some larger fish for you to catch when surf fishing during this time. Also during this time, the beach is usually calm and quiet during the low light hours, making the fish feel more comfortable approaching the shore to feed.

Best Time of the Tide

This type of fishing does depend on the tidal phases. When surf fishing, the moving water in the surfing line may seem superior. It is easy to cast out and reach the deeper water effortlessly during high tide. To be more accurate, it is two hours before and two hours after high tide will be the best time for fishing. At high tide, the water is not only moving but also deep, giving the fish optimal feeding conditions.

During the low tide, you should explore the area you are going to be fishing to find where the best spot would be. The same two hours around high tide can also be used around low tides but you may not get too many bites. This is due to the water being too shallow for the fish. There is also another tide before low and high tide called Slack tide. This tide is not good for any type of fishing.

Moon Phases

Everyone seems to think that the moon only plays an important role in the movements of the tide and they are right. The moon also plays a part in fishing. The moon, when it is full and when it is a new moon, helps to generate extreme tide changes in the springtime. When the tide changes, from high to low, the water moves also. The main changes are the depth of the water. There is also the belief that fish feed at night mostly at the time of the full moon so go during the full or new moon.

Weather Conditions

This is hard to explain how it affects when to surf fish. There are both positives and negatives in weather conditions affecting surf fishing. Although it sounds confusing, some of the positives turn into negative aspects and vice-versa.

  • Negative factors — it is a given fact that cold fronts are not constructive at all for surf fishing. If you try to surf fish in high winds, you will most likely have a disappointing outcome. During high wind, it makes it tough to cast your line and there is also poor water clarity. If any weather condition stays poor for 24 hours, the fish will not have a chance to familiarize themselves with the area so you will most likely not catch any fish.
  • Positive factors — for surf fishing, not having too strong of an onshore breeze can give you good results. During the low pressure of the spring tide, it makes surf fishing more profitable than during high pressure.

Sometimes when it rains it makes the water cloudy and provides a good cover for the fish to hide and feed near the shore so you can get more bites, if you do not mind fishing in the rain. Large fish may approach the shore during a rainstorm because it is hard for the small prey to getaway.

Water Temperature

Fish cannot adjust their body heat so, for them to feel comfortable, the temperature of the water should be the right temperature. If the water is too hot or too cold, the only way for a fish to maintain their correct body temperature is to go to another area where the temperature of the water is good. If they do not move, then their feeding activity and appetite decreases and they become lethargic and slow. As a result, though there may be fish in the water, they have no desire to bite the bait, reducing the number of fish you might catch. Make sure that the water temperature is right where you are going to fish or you will not get any fish or very few of them.

All you need to know is what the temperature of the water needs to be for the type of fish you are looking to catch, and then check the forecast for the hourly water temperature of where you are going fishing.


Fish are very cautious creatures and will only come near the shoreline when conditions and their nature allow them to do so. And until they feel protected and safe to feed near the shore, only then will they strike at your bait. This is why you need to make sure that everything lines up because if not, your day surf fishing will not be very productive. The water also needs to be at a temperature between 61 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If you are fishing for saltwater fish, you need to remember that they do not like still water. If the water is still, they will rarely come to feed.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.