Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips I want to catch bluefish in the surf!
I want to catch bluefish in the surf!

"I want to catch bluefish in the surf!"

The fall season is upon us and anglers are seeing fish jumping in the surf.
Finger mullet, bunkers, and shiners are suddenly in the surf attracting
bluefish, trout, and stripers. The fall season also sees a number of red

For the average surf fisherman, bluefish are the target because they are
plentiful, good fighters, and easy to catch. When the fall season first
begins, these bluefish are not large. We call these bluefish snappers.
They may run anywhere from 10 to 18 inches. These blues are very good to
eat and are quite fun to catch on light tackle. Later, in October, we start
to see some larger bluefish in the 3 to 7 pound range. By the beginning of
November, 7 to 18 pound blues are not uncommon.

"How do I catch the blues? They keep stealing my bait!"

Bluefish are fast so it is best to keep your fishing rod in your hand when
surf fishing for the snapper blues. There are several different types of
rigs to use when fishing for bluefish. Many anglers prefer the "mullet
rig." With the mullet rig, the angler can feed a rod through the body of a
finger mullet and fish the baitfish whole. The advantage to this is that
the bait looks natural because it is whole and intact. It also eliminates
any cutting or filleting; this makes surf fishing very easy. (When it is
chilly this is especially important because you can keep your hands dry.)
In addition to this, the "mullet rig" tends to hook the bluefish more
easily, because the hook of the rig lies near the tail of the baitfish.

There are two kinds of mullet rigs available. The first is made with a
split, two-hook treble hook that can be removed allowing the angler to push
the rig through the mouth of a finger mullet and out the anus. These rigs
are relatively inexpensive (a couple bucks) and are available with or
without bucktail. All these rigs come with a surf float that keeps the bait
off the bottom so the crabs do not steal the bait.

The other type of mullet rig available is more expensive. It is made from
a Mustad Universal #9418 hook. This two-part hook is made with a sharp
double hook molded right on to a 3-½ inch rod. The whole rod is inserted
into the mullet's anal canal and out it's mouth. The rod is then attached to
a special ring that is part of the mullet hook. The advantage of this
mullet rig over the first mullet rig is that the hook has less of a tendency
to come off when fighting a fish. The disadvantage is that it costs more!
Both rigs work well. Most local anglers prefer one or the other. Try both
and decide which one works for you. If you do go with the first type of
mullet rig described, be sure to buy some extra hooks. They are
inexpensive, but an important part of your fishing trip.

"The bluefish are biting my finger mullet in half, even with the mullet

Bluefish are crafty. The snapper blues can eat half your bait without
getting the hook sometimes. If this starts happening to you, it means the
blues are little or the blues are smart. Whichever the scenario, if you
take one of the prongs of the double hook and dig it into a part of the
mullet's tail, it will sometimes help. Be sure not to bend the mullet into
an unnatural appearance.

Another trick you can do to get the blues to take the whole finger mullet
rather than half is to keep your rig moving. Cast out and then very slowly
move the rig back in towards the shore. This entices the blues to grab it
quickly because they think their dinner is getting away. Keeping tension on
your line like this will also cut down on losing hooks. It is when you get
slack in your line and a fish turns, that a detachable hook becomes detached
when it isn't supposed to!

If you are using a Universal mullet hook be sure to slip the float back
over the eye where you attach the hook. This will help you not lose your
hook if a big fish takes a turn as well.

"These rigs come with different colored surf floats. What color is best?"

Blues are not that particular and will usually be attracted to any color,
but I would suggest trying red on sunny days, green on cloudy days, and
yellow at night. Blues can bite during the daytime or nighttime, but
generally hit best early in the morning and right before dark. Tide is an
important factor with blues as well. Right at the change of any tide makes
the blues bite. An incoming to high tide is usually better than an outgoing
tide. The crabs are usually not so bad on an incoming tide and the water is
deeper closer to the beach.

"What other rigs and bait can I use for blues?"

Blues will take any kind of cut bait on any top and bottom type surf rig.
Look at the size hooks and match them to the size blues anglers are catching
that week. If the blues are only snapper blues, do not use hooks that are
too large. When the blues start running larger, than you can go up on your
hook size. I always find that a rig made with #4 or #2 hooks will catch a
much larger variety of fish in the surf than if I use rigs with #3/0 to #5/0
hooks. It all depends on what you want to catch and how much action you
want. Some anglers only want to catch a big fish and can't be bothered by
small fish. Many anglers (like me) like to catch anything just for the

"So what other baits can I use?"

You can use finger mullet cut into one inch chunks on a top and bottom type
surf rig or you can get fancy and cut the sides off the finger mullet and
use strips of bait. I prefer to do this, so I also have the chance to catch
trout, kingfish, and flounder. I seem to catch more variety of fish with
strips than with chunks. (I like to scale my bait before filleting it.)
You can also use fresh spot and fillet and strip them. Or you can use the
old stand-by "squid" and cut it into strips and use that in the surf as
well. Never use squid in chunks unless you are fishing for sharks. It is
important to skin and strip the squid and use only the white meat when

"How about worms?"

Any fish will always eat a worm, but blues do seem to prefer cut bait. If
you do want to fish with worms, I would use it in combination with a strip
of squid, mullet or spot. Then you will be fishing for two types of fish at
the same time! If you are using a kingfish rig you can fish for snapper
blues and kingfish at the same time. If you are using a slightly larger
rig, you can be fishing for bluefish, trout, and stripers at the same time.

"How much sinker weight do I need for blues?"

What ever it takes to hold the bottom. Usually anglers use a 3 or 4-ounce
hurricane sinker this time of year. If the weather kicks up, try the
Sputnik type sinker. This sinker holds incredibly well in rough conditions
and allows the angler to use less weight on a rough day. You will lose a
little sensitivity to the bites, but using less weight will make casting

Catching blues in the surf is lots of fun. We will have them now until
Thanksgiving and sometimes into the first week of December.

Good fishing….

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:27