Surfboard Fishing


As a youngster in California I used to surf and fish quite a bit. I don’t know if I can say that it was a natural convergence, but at some point the light bulb went off and I combined the two. By no means was I the first person to think of this. There actually was a surfboard fishing tournament in San Diego at one point. Yet, I was one of the few that was smart enough, or possibly dumb enough, to turn it into a regular pass time. Just think of it as poor man’s kayak fishing.

For someone who doesn’t have the money for a boat, this is a great way to get to inshore fishing spots on the cheap. What’s more, you can get to a lot of places boats can’t. With a surfboard you can get as tight to the boiler rocks or as deep into the kelp as you want. You don’t have to worry about capsizing or getting a chunk of kelp stuck in the water intake.

What do you need to get started?

  • Surf Board
  • Milk Crate
  • 2.5″ PVC Pipe
  • 4 sets of nuts and bolts
  • 2 Rod leashes
  • Plastic Mesh
  • Velcro
  • Pliers Sheath
  • Pliers
  • Line Cutters
  • Paracord
  • 2 Bungee cords
  • Foam Mat


I suggest a long board or SUP nine feet or longer. I’ve seen guys fish from short boards with a single rod clenched in their teeth on the paddle out, but nine feet will be more functional and comfortable.

The second thing you’ll need is a milk crate. You can ask your local grocer for one or just steal one from behind the store. To this I bolt two lengths of 2.5″ PVC pipe that are as tall as the milk crate into the corners. These will be your rod holders. I would also attach a rod leash of some sort for each of your rods, just in case the surf is large. On top of the crate attach a mesh cover using velcro. This will keep your bait, tackle trays, and lures from floating away. Next attach a mount for both pliers and line cutters to the crate. You can do this with duct tape or zip ties. You’ll want to tie the pliers and cutters directly to the crate with paracord so you don’t lose them if dropped. After that cut a piece of foam rubber the same dimensions as your milk crate. This will be placed between the crate and the board to prevent the crate from sliding and denting the board. Finally, attach the milk crate to the board with the bungee cords.

That’s it. You’re ready to fish.


When fishing from a surfboard I prefer to use spinning gear as it’s easy to back lash and tangle conventional and bait casting gear from the board. Tangles and break offs are a hassle to manage on a board, so I keep it as simple as possible. Also keep in mind that it’s very hard to break line from a board when you get snagged on the bottom. Because you’re floating on the water there is a certain amount of give. Couple this with the stretch of mono and it can be a difficult operation. Then again, you definitely don’t want 80lb braid in this situation either. Soggy wet hands will cut like butter when pulling on braid. I usually fished with 20-25lb mono. Choose any fishing technique you wish. Artificials, bait, flies, they all work.

Some general tips:

  • Sun Protection. It’s very easy to lose track of time out there. Sun block, a hat, sun glasses are highly recommended!
  • This type of fishing takes it’s toll on gear. Break down and wash your reels frequently.
  • Straps for your Sunglasses! I’ve lost a few pairs of sunglasses in the surf line.
  • If you catch a Sculpin, try not to drop it in your lap. Almost learned this the hard way.
  • Be careful pulling on the line trying to retrieve snagged lures. Like I said, wet soggy hands will cut like butter!

It’s that simple. Paddle out and have some fun!



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