The July 4 holidays are quickly approaching, and for many Americans it means a trip to the beaches for fun in the surf and sun.
And all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, surf-fishing for speckled trout, redfish and other beachcombing species hits its feverish peak.
It’s a great way to beat the heat of the year as well as to enjoy special moments wade-fishing with friends and family.
Ken Chaumont of Lake Charles, Louisiana, with the experience of 35 years of designing, marketing and producing baits for saltwater and freshwater recreational use, knows well how to fish the beaches along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas.
At the present, Chaumont represents Egret Baits, and he has also enjoyed a long history with Bill Lewis Lures, makers of the ever popular Rat-L-Trap.
According to the angler, environmental conditions to include wind direction, tides and the effects of freshwater runoff from the nearby river inlets are primary when considering surf-fishing strategies. From his experience as well as the frequent visits by the author, it can be hit-or-miss and feast-or-famine on any given day. But now with smartphone access to wind direction, tides and river gages – the results of good stringers of trout can be more efficiently predicted.
“The key to fishing the surf is to understand water quality,” Chaumont said. “Wind driven mud clears quickly, whereas the muddy water coming from freshwater influx of nearby rivers stays a bit longer.
“If a south wind at 15 to 20 knots hits the shelf of the beach, it can clear fast and even the next day you can be fishing in clear water.”
Chaumont urges anglers to cruise beaches and look for bird activity as well as baitfish scurrying and moving along the surf. Of course, a high moving tide is most favorable to find racing schools of baitfish and ravenous, chasing trout.
Egret Baits and topwaters for fishing the surf
Egret Baits recently unveiled its new Wedgetail EEL, a 5-inch plastic lure with their hallmark vortex Wedgetail. The lure’s chief function is to imitate a sand eel adding the patented, Wedgetail to its end thus adding vibration. It is excellent to use when fishing the sandy surf since this is home to the sand eel.
“In the introduction of the Wedgetail EEL, we are teaching an old dog a new trick,” Chaumont said. “We are placing the vortex, fluttering tail of our patented Wedgetail to the end of the eel’s body making this imitation plastic extremely effective.
“The new Wedgetail EEL has all the action of the original Wedgetail with the extra kick of the long tail. All you have to do is ‘swim it’ using a slight rise and fall of your rod tip.”
The angler recommends using a 1/8-ounce jighead in shallow water and a ¼-ounce jighead for deeper water.”
Another new lure Egret Baits will introduce sometimes this summer is the new, 3.5-inch Mambo Mullet.
Like the VuDu Shrimp and VuDu Mullet, the new Mambo Mullet is made of rugged, durable Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) like other “new generation” plastics entering the lure industry.
“The Mambo Mullet is designed with reverse hydro cups in its tail,” Chaumont said. “And it is notched along its flanks making this extremely durable lure dance through the water with a dynamic side-to-side wobble.
“That’s why we named it the Mambo Mullet.”
With an internal ¼-ounce weight, the Mambo Mullet will be easy for anglers to cast at a distance – especially in the surf.
Another Egret Baits’ lure anglers will find extremely efficient at catching beachcombing trout and redfish include the VuDu Mullet, a TPE swimbait already well known for taking inshore and offshore coastal species.
“The number one way to fish Vudu Mullet for speckled trout and redfish is to simply chunk and wind,” Chaumont said. “It’s a slow sinker, and the notched body design allows the lure to move in an undulating manner when retrieved. Its design and movement imitates the look and action of a live finger mullet.
Egret Baits’ signature lure is the 3.5-inch Wedgetail Mullet patented with a tail that constantly flutters. It has always worked effectively on beaches on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
“The Beach is mainly an early morning bite for big trout in my experience,” Chaumont said. “And you want to fish the beach with topwaters early such as Heddon’s Spooks, Mirrolure’s She Dog, and the Rapala Skitterwalk.
“Egret Baits’ Kick A Mullet also works well when these trout are chasing mullet in the deeper troughs.”
How to fish the surf due to its dynamics
“I would advise anglers to cast east-to-west and west-to-east, and not north-to-south in the surf,” Chaumont said.
The angler explained this angling direction due to the dynamics of the beach.
No matter which beach surf anglers fish along the coastline, Chaumont advises frequent visits to the area during very low tides to observe the surface of the fishing area. Chaumont has been known to do this on his many ATV excursions along beaches.
“If an angler will precisely observe the beach terrain at very low tide, you will see: beach – then trough – then sand bar,” Chaumont said. “There will be cuts or low areas (sloughs) on the sand bar, and it is here where the baitfish will run in a moving tide.
“Speckled trout and sometimes schools of redfish will follow them into the trough between the beach and the sand bar,” he said. “The way to fish these cuts is walking through the trough to the sand bar and cast east-to-west or west-to-east.
“That’s the route all predators will use because the baitfish run these to both hide and escape the fish chasing them.”
Visit Egret Baits online to review the lures mentioned above for your surf-fishing excursions this summer.