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Best Saltwater Fishing Tips & Guides

Saltwater fishing is an extremely vast and complex subject. There's far too much information to cover in a single session or even in a single lifetime. However, there are some general tips that are good for everyone to know. These tips will make you time on the water that much easier and more productive. Also, check out bass fishing secrets & tactics for skills enhancing.

Learn The Knots

It's better to start learning the many different fishing knots sooner than later. The sooner you learn them the sooner you can begin applying them in the right situations. Different knots have different purposes and knowing which knot is best will always prove beneficial.

The Bimini Twist is one of those essential knots that every angler needs to learn. It is the only knot that can maintain nearly all of its strength under stressful conditions. It is used when you need to double the line and increase the strength. It should be one of the first knots you learn and master. One of many.

Learn The Fish

Knots are certainly not the only thing you need to understand intimately if you want to become a great saltwater angler. Fish are living creatures with minds of their own. They make their own decisions and luckily they are usually easy to predict. Needless to mention, fishing in saltwater is different from bass fishing.​

Learn as much as you can about the various fish in your local waters and those waters you wish to fish at. Understand what sort of fish you are after and what their normal routines consist of. Are they aggressive predators or nervous bottom feeders? Will they put up a fight or shy away? Are they more interested in eating or breeding?

One of the most important things you must learn about a fish is where it likes to frequent. Find the locations where they like to breed and call home. Also places that are near sources of food for their particular species.

You can learn of such locations through a variety of means. Charter fishing trips will often reveal a few local spots for catching certain types of fish. You can also search the internet for existing information. Finally, and the most rewarding method of all, is simply finding them for yourself. It will take some study, trial, and error, but if you can find their spots then you may have it all to yourself.

Fishing Logs

Fishing logs are great for tracking different fish over multiple seasons. Most fish tend to move in certain patterns or are pressured to move by certain stimuli. There are also a lot of different factors that will determine whether or not the fish are biting at a particular time.

All of this information can be recorded in a fishing log. You may eventually begin to recognize a pattern over time. You can then use that information to plan the best times to go fishing in that area.

Record the time, moon phase, the type of bait used, and other details concerning the surroundings. The more details you provide, the more likely it is that you'll spot a useful pattern.

Always review your logs at the beginning of each new seasons. Look closely for any signs from the previous year that can help you get better results in the current season.

Finding The Best Locations

Discovering the best fishing locations is one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs of any angler. There are maps, websites, and even apps that will help you find the ideal fishing spot in any location. Once you've located it for yourself you can commit to memory and revisit it regularly.

Marine charts are one such tool you can use. They are helpful for locating creek mouths and inlets, which are spots where fish frequent because of the abundance of available food. They are always the best starting locations when searching for new fish.

If you've been keeping logs, then they can be extremely helpful when searching for the best locations. The fish may have moved, but they'll likely move to a location with similar conditions. You should also keep an eye for landmarks that are known to house a variety of fish.

These landmarks include reefs, shipwrecks, and other submerged structures. Fish love calling these structures home, though you can never be entirely sure what species exactly are living there until you cast the line.

You can use local sources to find information regarding nearby hotspots. Tackle shops often carry maps with known hotspots designated. Artificial reefs house many different types of fish. They are typically sponsored by a specific organization that documents their location as well.

Hooks, Lures, And Bait

Hooks and lures work together to catch the fish. The size and shape of the hook will determine its success under the water. Different hooks are also preferred for different reasons.

For example, many anglers like circle hooks because they aren't as likely to hook the throat of the fish and cause serious damage. Not harming the fish in such a way is especially important if you are practicing catch and release. It would also prove to be useful if the fish was under the size limit.

Treble hooks stand the greatest chance for harming the fish. You should never use them when bait fishing because the fish will easily swallow the hook. Once the fish has swallowed the hook it's almost certain to die. Choose your hooks carefully each trip you make.

When it comes to lures, fish love lures that are new and shiny. It's always a good idea to have new lures for each fishing trip. Make sure you buy the most effective lure for the fish you are trying to catch. You don't need to throw away every lure you use, but try to keep them rinsed and cleaned as much as possible.

Live bait being used to catch the fish should be kept it good condition. A cool, circulated storage area is needed to keep the bait fresh and effective. Bait is always kept best with an incoming water supply if possible.


Successful saltwater fishing requires an in depth understanding of the waters and the fish alike. Knowing as much as possible about both of these things will help you make the best moves possible on the water. As a beginner to saltwater fishing you might find that you know very little about the many different fish that call America's coastal waters home.

The information below has been gathered and organized to help you find the fish you are looking for each time you go fishing. It contains information regarding specific species of fish, their habits, and where you can find them most often. The location of any fish is never written in stone, but the following pointers can certainly help locate them.


The tarpon are a really unique species of fish and a favorite catch for many anglers. Their dorsal fin ray assumes a very distinct pattern that makes them easily recognizable. In terms of habit preference, they tend to avoid the cold waters and feed where there are warmer climates.

Tarpon may be fished in coastal waters as well as further inland in the freshwater. Identifying them is usually easy because of their dorsal fin, blue colored scales, and protruding lower jaw. However, they are known to resemble the ladyfish in appearance.

Ladyfish are somewhat similar in appearance, but are always considerably smaller than the tarpon. A lady fish will only reach around six pounds at most, but the tarpon can reach up to 150 pounds in the right conditions.

Tarpon tend to travel in larger schools, which makes them easier to locate with electronic gear like a Fish Finder. They are predators in the water and their diet consists mainly of smaller fish and marine life. Tarpon will feed whenever the opportunity presents themselves, which makes them easier to bait and catch.

Tarpon usually present a challenge to the angler. That is why they are such popular sport, but are almost always released after capture. They don't make particularly good meals and don't have much visual appeal.

It's also the unique attributes of the Tarpon that attracts eager anglers. They are known to survive by gulping air. They do this when the concentration of oxygen in the water declines, as it often does with declining water quality.

Whole dead fish, whole squid, and live shrimp all make great bait when fishing for the elusive tarpon. There are also some artificial lures, such as key-style streamers, which will get the job done if used properly.

These fish love to jump above the water when they've been hooked. Be prepared for a tough fight and use a strong line.

Blacktip Shark

Fishing for any type of shark is always an exciting experience. It's definitely not recommended for your first fishing trip, but once you've built some confidence you'll inevitably feel the urge to catch your first shark. It's something many anglers attempt to successfully. Luckily, there is a large variety of sharks located all around the continent.

Blacktip sharks are favored by many newcomers looking to catch their first shark. They can be located inshore and offshore, but are almost always found in clear waters. This makes them easier to spot, especially if you know their preferred habitat.

Look for blacktip sharks near submerged structures, underwater shelves, and drop-offs. You may even be able to locate them at local river mouths or bays, but this is not as common. As adults, the males will form schools together.

Blacktip sharks are easily spotted because of their black tip. It is a distinct black coloration on the tips of all their fins. They are also missing their mid-dorsal ridge. The shark with the most similar appearance is the spinner shark because they also have black tipped fins. However, they have much smaller eyes and smooth teeth.

On average, these sharks can grow up to 72 inches while weighing around 40 pounds. Some have been known to grow far beyond that, up to 270 pounds at a total of 96 inches long. They eat constantly and will grow as large as their environment allows.

Most of their feeding takes place near the surface of the water. Their sense of smell is unmatched in the water and it helps them locate prey from a long distance away. You might find them feeding on rays, octopus, herring, or mullet. They also won't hesitate to eat a smaller and weaker shark.

The blacktip shark is no easy catch. No shark is an easy catch for that matter, but these are particularly energetic. They will leap above the water and attempt to break the line whenever possible. They are usually caught while trolling or using live bait.

Tiger Shark

Once you're more experienced, you may even want to try your luck with the infamous tiger shark. These should be reserved for the most confident anglers. They are strong, vicious, and will give any angler a run for their money.

Tiger sharks may be located near the water surface or as deep as 1200 feet beneath the water. They wander all throughout the ocean and tend to appear in the most unexpected of locations. If you're an adventurous angler, then you'll see it as an opportunity to reel in one of the toughest predators in the water.

These particular sharks are identified by their dark brown and black color pattern. The alternating colors usually form a series of bars on the side of the shark. Their teeth are short and their snout is very blunt. The top half of the tail fin is usually two or three times as long as the lower section.

On average, the tiger shark weighs between 300 and 800 pounds. That makes even the smallest mature tiger sharks mammoths that require time, patience, and durable equipment to catch. The average length scales up to 144 inches.

While that's average, larger tiger sharks have been caught on record. The maximum size is believed to be around 1,800 pounds and up to 216 inches. Their size is in part due to their extremely diverse diet. They are fierce scavengers of the ocean and will eat anything that crosses their path, even other tiger sharks.

Tiger sharks are known to attack humans. Most times, they are caught by accident. They happen by an unsuspecting angler and attack the fish that is already on the line.

Atlantic Sturgeon

If you're fishing on the East Coast, then you should make an effort to catch at least one Atlantic Sturgeon. They can be located in the open coastal waters ranging from as far north as New York and as far south as Florida.

Their appearance is really unique. They look almost ancient. As if they are a surviving fossil of a time long past on Earth. The body and head of the sturgeon are covered with what resembles plates. There is a single row of plates along the middle line of the fish and two rows of plates beside dorsal fins.

The upper half of their tail fin is almost longer than the bottom half in a similar fashion to the tiger shark. These fish can weigh around 125 pounds on average, but some weighing as much as 811 pounds have been caught before. The average length is 72 inches with the longest being 168.

Their diet is fairly regular, thus making them easier to predict and follow. They feed on various bottom-dwelling creatures, such as crabs, crustaceans, and mussels. They are even known to eat on some plant materials as well.

Spawning for the Atlantic Sturgeon takes place once every three or so years. It occurs during the spring time between the months of April and May. Keep this in mind if you are planning on fishing for Sturgeon in the future. You want to navigate your schedule around these times.

Unfortunately, the fishery for the Atlantic sturgeon has recently been closed. For the time being it is illegal to catch any Atlantic sturgeon in federal or state waters, but that ban will likely be lifted in the near future as their population increases.

American Eel

Eels are also one of those things you might not consider yourself catching at first, but will later come around to the idea as you realize what a rare challenge it can be. Many professional anglers take time to fish for eels during certain conditions. The American Eel can be found throughout much of the country's shallow coastal waters.

The American eel differs slightly in appearance from other eels. It can actually be difficult to tell one from the other at times, but your ability to recognize the species will improve with time and experience. You can usually tell the American eel apart by the smaller, embedded scales on the body that aren't present on snake or moray eels.

The average American eel ranges between 18 and 30 inches. They weigh 10 pounds at most, but are close to 1 or 2 pounds typically. Their diet consists mainly of small fish, insects, worms, and clams.

Most American eels are caught by accident while fishing for something else on the bottom. They are attracted to live bait and won't hesitate to steal your catch for themselves if it is small enough.

Surprisingly, the eel can make a great meal. The American eel isn't nearly as common a meal as the European eel, but many agree that they taste great.

The American eel is catadromous. A catadromous fish is a fish that migrates from a fresh water source to a saltwater location in order to breed and spawn. They tend to spawn in a single area of the Sargasso sea. Shortly after hatching the baby eels will return to their freshwater streams.

They may spend up to eight years in the freshwater. Once they reach maturity they will return to the ocean where they will spawn and the cycle will begin once again.


As you may have guessed by now, saltwater fishing is a lot like a well-oiled machine. There are many different parts that need to work together to deliver the best possible experience. This includes plenty of research, buying the proper equipment, getting the right boat, targeting specific fish at the right times, and making the most of every trip on the water.

You can't be expected to get all of these things correct right away. It takes time to learn the fish, get used to the equipment, and to scout out the best locations in the water. Luckily, if you enjoy saltwater fishing, then you'll have fun all of the time as you are learning.

There are professionals who have spent most of their lives fishing, yet still continue to learn new and useful information all of the time. It's impossible for any one person to fully understand the actions and habits of all the different saltwater species. They can learn many of them though and more as time passes.

The Importance Of Equipment

One component in the machine of saltwater fishing is the equipment you use. This means all of the gear you use to catch the fish, including the rod, the reel, the line, the bait, and the additional electronics that make the trip easier.

High quality fishing gear is rarely cheap. You don't have to buy everything in one visit to the store. Start with the most important necessities and add to your collection over time.

Buying quality equipment means it will last longer and require fewer replacements. There is an entire market built around cheap, low-quality fishing gear. Don't fall for the same traps as so many other novice anglers before you. Do the research and spend the money on gear that is worth it. You'll be glad you did in the long run.

Choosing The Boat

The boat can be considered part of your overall collection of fishing equipment, but it is really so much more. Considering the amount of money a boat costs, many anglers tend to buy them for a dual purpose. They may want a boat for fishing as well as relaxing with the family. All of this must be taking into consideration before choosing the boat.

There are a lot of different options when it comes to saltwater fishing boats. They differ in size, power, manufacturer, material, and seating capacity. The capacity determines how many people can come with you on your trips. A small vessel may only carry four people when a larger vessel can carry more than ten.


There is nothing more important when saltwater fishing than remembering to have fun. After all, fun is the reason most people begin fishing in the first place and it's the only reason a person will continue fishing for a long period of time.

It takes time to become a great angler and you learn new information all the time when fishing. However, none of it will matter if you don't enjoy what you're doing. That's why so many anglers spice things up by going after exotic species of fish they wouldn't otherwise want to catch.

Gia Zavala Damon

Completely getting immersed in outdoor activities, I learned to discover the nature in many aspects, namely, in the countryside, at the seaside or in the mountains. He wants to inspire any backpacker the climate, fishing, abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

1 comment

  • Thanks for sharing these useful fishing tips with us. This is such a great article and it is really helpful for every fishing beginners. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.

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