Just about every beach in Florida allows surf fishing. If you can drive right onto the beach it's even better. We found some gear for your truck and on the shore, to make your fishing day go smoothly.
Shore fishing and casting a line into the surf is a lot of fun. It is a type of fishing that uses the ocean waves to bring the fish to the shoreline. It's a common sight on the beach and a relaxing way to spend the day. We've seen people fishing who've caught Grouper, Snook, and even some small sharks. In between catches you can wade in the water or get some Florida sunshine. Even if you can't drive onto the beach, there is gear to help you have a successful fishing trip.
Florida Pier Fishing
Many beach piers are popular for fishing too but not all are free. Almost every Florida pier has fishing. For example, with a small fee you can find great fishing on Juno Beach Pier, Navarre Beach Pier, Skyway Fishing Pier in Tampa Bay. The best part is the fishing license is included in the pier fee. In the Gulf of Mexico you may catch Mahi Mahi or Red Snapper.
Florida Beach Fishing
Some beaches have no restrictions on where you can fish, while others restrict it to certain areas of the beach. You may also need a fishing license, although there are "free days" and certain situations where the license is covered (like fishing piers and charters). For more detailed information on the requirements, check out this Florida Fish and Wildlife link.
For your day of beach fishing, the essentials you will need are a fishing rod/reel (8 or 9 ft. is plenty of length for surf fishing), sand spike bait bucket, cooler with ice, bait knife, needle nose pliers and, if required, a fishing license. Don't forget your hat, sunglasses, chair and umbrella and refreshments. Even if you start out at dawn, the Florida sun can burn you any time of the year.
For serious fishing, it's so important to have all your fishing gear organized and easy to grab and go. Your pickup truck is going to get you to and from the water, but it will also be used for gear storage, your toolbox, and act as a handy workspace. We use our Toyota Tacoma (Toyota sponsors the Major League Fishing series for anglers) for beach and fishing outings. Here are some accessory suggestions to get ready to fish on the beach or the pier.
Pickup Truck Bed Liner
Whether you are fishing or not, you want to protect your pickup truck bed from scratches and dents as your gear and cargo shifts around while driving. Truck beds can be damaged with normal use and exposed metal will start to rust, especially near the ocean. There are different types of bed liners that you can get at the time of your truck purchase or after market. Options include bed liners, bed mats, or spray-on liners. You might think a spray-on liner isn't as good as the other options, but they are tough.
Whatever you choose, make sure it can withstand abrasion and scratches from loading and unloading gear. You don't want it to tear either. Slide-resistant and a perfect fit are the key. If water or sand gets under the liner, it could void your paint warranty. Here are a few options we found online (we have not tried or endorsed them):
Store Multiple Fishing Rods
Each angler usually carries two rods, so fishing rod holders or racks are probably the most important accessory. You will see them on the roof for highway travel, behind the cab or on the front of the truck. We've even see them on the truck hitch. It is easy to break or damage your expensive new fishing rod if it’s just lying in the pickup bed with all your other gear. Driving to the beach, pulling out your gear and finding your rod snapped will sink your fishing trip!
A truck bed rod holder needs to be easy to mount, hold multiple fishing rods, be adjustable in angle, and have a locking system to keep your rods secure. Pressure mounts instead of drilling can be used. The other type of rod holder you will need is a sand spike pole holder that you sink into the sand when surf fishing. The sand spike needs to be easy to set up and hold heavy reels and be made of materials that are high impact and don’t lose strength after getting wet and being repeatedly exposed to the sun.
Truck Seat Covers
If you are heading to the beach with your truck then you are guaranteed to get sand, mud, water, and other elements in your truck interior, especially on the seats. It's time to protect those seats. We are always climbing back into our truck as we head home from another beach day with wet towels, shorts, bathing suits and more. Initially we used towels to sit on, but those seats were getting soaked with salt water and getting run down. We finally bought waterproof seat covers and that solved our "wet behinds on the seats" problem. They are resistant to water and UV damage and easy to clean. Seat covers come in a variety of colors and materials with endless variations.
Fishing Carts or Beach Wagons
A must-have to haul your tackle, bait, other fishing gear and supplies is a fishing cart. When the fish are biting and the sun is shining, who wants to make multiple trips to your vehicle to haul your gear? Putting it all in a one-trip cart allows you to change locations easily on the beach or a nearby pier. The two main types of fishing carts are a pier cart and a beach cart.
A pier cart can be used anywhere and will work on sand, but a beach cart typically doesn’t work well on a pier. The difference in the two carts lies in the wheels. Poly wheels can support more weight than rubber wheels and are also more robust. Heavy-duty balloon wheels with traction tread will do better in soft sand. Do not buy a wagon that is made with materials that will rust, especially for the beach saltwater fishing. Some fishing carts hold rods and come with knife holders or cutting boards. Heavy-duty is the way to go for a day of surf fishing on any Florida beach.
Having fresh bait is the key to a successful day of fishing. Therefore, you will need to store it and keep bait fresh for your entire fishing outing. An aerator will keep small baitfish or shrimp alive by providing oxygenated water to survive. Although they can live a short period of time without an air pump, its best to keep the water properly aerated with a pump or water circulation system. When you're on the beach, you can find sand fleas for bait in between catches. Do some research so that you know what fish species is caught in your targeted fishing area and get the right bait.
Truck Bed Storage
Once you get serious about fishing, you realize you need to store a lot of stuff in the truck bed – tackle, rods, coolers, etc. The best place for all this gear is a built-in storage box in your truck bed that doesn’t take up a lot of space, is weathertight and lockable. Even better if that storage box can be easily removed at carried to your fishing spot.
You can always go the ultimate storage system with a Decked System. It consists of full bed-length drawers that can store up to 200 lbs. each. Keep tackle, bait, reels, and whatever else in their own designated compartments within the drawers that can be easily customized. The result is organization, easy access and plenty of space left over for tools, emergency gear, and refreshments. Plus it's weatherproof. It's time to start your beach fishing day!
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.