Fishing in the surf is a great way to spend a day or night chasing the fish that call the surf their feeding grounds. Fish such Striped Bass (rockfish), Flounder, Whiting (kingfish), Bluefish, and Sharks are just a few fish that come to the surf to feed. Targeting these fish in the surf is done generally by using bait on a rig such as a fish finder rig or a Hi-Lo rig (top bottom) with a pyramid sinker in the 4 to 10 oz range depending on wind and surf conditions. There are several different baits, which work well in the surf depending on what type of fish you are pursuing.
Menhaden (Bunker) - This is a surf fishermen's mainstay and something that most if not all will have in their color when surf fishing. Cut Menhaden works well when targeting Striped Bass, Bluefish, Shark, and other fish that target baitfish. Often surf fishermen will use the head of a bunker to ward off rays and dogfish. To best way to cut a bunker is to cut into chunks by cutting from top to bottom with a bait knife. A good bait knife is a must have when chunking bunker.
Mullet - Often a good choice when targeting bluefish in the surf is to use a mullet on a mullet rig. A mullet rig is a rig that has a float on one end and a long metal rod which is threaded through the mullets mouth and out it's bottom then a hook is attached to the rod. I have found that Chartreuse mullet rigs work the best in the surf. Also mullet can be cut into smaller chunks like Menhaden to be fished on a fish finder rig or top bottom rig.
Bloodworms - Another popular bait when fishing in the surf is the bloodworm, however they are quite expensive for all the more you get. I have found that the fake bloodworms made by FishBites work just as well and hold up great in the surf. Fish such as Norfolk Spot, Whiting (Kingfish), and Sea Mullet will take BWFB (Bloodworm FishBites).
Sand Fleas - One of my favorite things to fish with in the summer months is Sand Fleas or Mole Crabs. They are great for pompano, speckled trout, whiting, and sea mullet. Another great thing is the kids love to catch them which keeps you in bait. When storing sand fleas remember to keep them in moist sand and not water they will drown.
Clams - Striped Bass are often coming to the surf to feed on clams that are present in the surf. Fresh clams are the best if they stink they are rotten and won't catch anything. You should be able to get two hooks worth of meat with one clam, make sure you thread the clam on then wrap it around again and hook it through the meat again.
Norfolk Spot - This is my all time favorite bait to use in the surf when chasing predator fish like Striped Bass and Bluefish. They are hard to come by but if you are able to catch some Spot keep them for bait. Fresh Spot stays on the hook better than any other cut baitfish that I've used and the fish love it. So if you can keep yourself from keeping them to eat use them to catch something bigger.
Remember when surf fishing always use a SHOCK LEADER, it's crucial to keep from breaking off when casting and possibly hurting some one bad, and remember to check your bait every 15 to 20 minutes. Surf Fishing is a fun and relaxing sport that can be very rewarding if you hook into something big in the Surf.