Sunday, November 29 , 2015, 3:35 am | Overcast 51º

Captain’s Log: Gearing Up to Tackle Surf Fishing

Goleta Beach at high tide. These balmy winter days are a good time to get outdoors.
Goleta Beach at high tide. These balmy winter days are a good time to get outdoors.  (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

By Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist |

We’ve got a delightful winter going here. Sure, we badly need lots more water, and I sincerely hope we get plenty. Meanwhile, during our balmy winter days, it is good to get outdoors, and since we are a beach community, it makes sense to put your feet in sand.

Suppose you want to take advantage of our great winter bite on barred surf perch. What do you need to get to go catch and release (maybe take a few home for supper if you wish) barred surf perch and other surf zone fish?

For myself, I’ve got my surf fishing kit in my car because I want to take advantage of those little breaks in the day when I can walk out on the beach, make some casts and get back to work before I’m missed. The rest of the day goes so much better once I’ve got my feet in the sand even for a little while.

A surf kit doesn’t take up much room, and it doesn’t require a great financial commitment. You need a two-piece rod with reel, a small tackle kit and that’s about it. Toss it in the trunk, back seat or wherever you’ve got a little space. The cost of everything you need ranges from about $75 up to about $450, depending upon the quality of gear you want.

At the low end, a prepackaged combo (rod and reel with fishing line) and a small tackle pack stocked with basics doesn’t hit the pocketbook too hard and gives you a nice starter kit. After you “get your feet wet” (pun intended), you can decide whether you want to move up to mid- or high-end gear.

Midrange gear would be a Berkley Air rod and a Penn Battle spin reel. A creel goes over the shoulder and holds a plastic box with your hooks, weights, beads, baits, lures and a small tool or two. High-end gear — chosen to provide the most sensitive feel and the greatest cast — would be a Cousins surf rod, Shimano spin reel and perhaps a fanny pack to hold the same tackle. All in all, it is not a particularly expensive hobby, unless you want it to be.

The rewards are part of a day on the beach with something to do. That part makes you feel like a kid again. Another reward, if you choose to, is taking home a fresh fish dinner. Or if you prefer, just let the fish go. Either way, you’ll enjoy the day, live a healthy lifestyle and probably meet some very interesting people out there from all walks of life.

One of the things I really enjoy at my fishing tackle shop, Hook, Line & Sinker on Calle Real in Santa Barbara, is watching people from very different lifestyles chat together about their common interest in fishing and share tips on tackle and techniques.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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