Also available in: French
We asked Cyril Chauquet, fishing enthusiast, adventurer and host of Chasing Monsters, to shares his top tips on how to get started with saltwater fishing. Here’s his shortlist.
Article written by Cyril Chauquet, host of the Mordu de la pêche television show and professional fisherman.
- Prepare your fishing outing so you can find the best spot
- Count on the right species of fish
- Learn about tides
- Scan the surface for signs of activity (particularly from birds!)
- Reuse your freshwater gear for saltwater fishing
- Check rules and regulations
- Always be safe
To discover Cyril Chauquet’s tackle recommendations, stop by your nearest SAIL store or shop online.
Now, here’s all the information you need to know before you set out on your saltwater fishing adventure.
1. Prepare your fishing outing so you can find the best spot
One of the key components of a successful saltwater fishing expedition is, of course, to make sure you are fishing in the right spot! The vastness of the ocean can become a bit of a nightmare for anglers trying their luck at random. Hiring a guide for the day, or at least getting some advice from a few locals should definitely be on your to-do list before heading out. However, if neither option is available, you can still rely on your instinct to find a promising spot. Here are four types of sea fishing spots worthy of attention:
Those rocky pieces of ground that project into the sea are often popular passageways for many marine species, and therefore make for strategic hunting spots for predatory fish!
When flowing into saltwater bodies, rivers and creeks do bring along a lot of food, which can be a real treat for coastal species. Those spots are particularly ripe for fishing during ebb tide as water levels are going down.
Whether it’s a pier, a dyke or a jetty, harbor structures break up the shoreline’s monotony and are usually brimming with aquatic life, thanks to the many hiding places they provide. They also allow you to cast your lure or bait much further away than if you were fishing from the shore.
If conditions are right, beaches can be choice locations for many species of fish. Flatfish love them and predatory fish enjoy hunting for prey there once the night has fallen and all is quiet!
Watch how rewarding saltwater fishing from a rocky point can be (French only).
2. Count on the right species of fish
Seas are populated by a multitude of species of fish, each more fun to catch than the next. What’s more, it is often said that pound for pound, saltwater fish fight twice as hard as freshwater fish. A real treat on the line for anglers looking for a thrill. However, it’s important not to set off hoping to catch ‘a little bit of everything’ as this could be the best way to catch nothing. So, the best thing to do is to zero in on a particular species of fish early on and nail down a specific technique: wobbler spoons for striped bass, jigs for cod, spinning for mackerel, worms for flatfish, etc.
Remember that depending on the conditions, not all types of fish are as easy to catch as initially planned, so if your strategy isn’t working, don’t hesitate to change your plans so you can rescue your fishing expedition!
3. Learn about tides
Depending on the spot you’ve chosen, you might want to closely watch the tide as it will have a sizeable influence on whether there is fish around. Just like river currents, sea tides bring food to fish. Whether they dig out worms and crustaceans on the beach, wait for shoals of small fish coming from the open sea, or even gorge on crabs in rocky areas, most fish use the tide to feed. Feeding time for coastal species are scheduled around both tides every day, which will in turn expose and cover the coastline and thus influence the behavior of fish. It’s up to you to understand why, and how.
4. Scan the surface for signs of activity (particularly from birds!)
Surface activity is one of the first things to observe when arriving at a new fishing spot, particularly bird activity. Flocks of birds are a sea angler’s best friends as they indicate what’s happening under the surface. Once birds spot a shoal of small fish on the surface of the water, they follow it and don’t relent until the fish are out of reach. Those hunts for fish are easy to spot: if birds are diving in and out of the water with their beaks full, there is a good chance that this feast is happening below the surface as well as on the surface, as seen in this video of Cyril fishing at sea (French only).
5. Reuse your freshwater gear for saltwater fishing
You’re headed for the Côte-Nord or Gaspésie region for a holiday this summer and want to take advantage of the opportunity to try your hand at saltwater fishing? You don’t need to completely restock your tackle box! If you are casting, a spinning kit of medium to heavy capacity with a reel sized anywhere from 3000 to 5000 will allow you to tackle most coastal species. If you prefer ledger fishing, you could use the same kit as for sturgeon or bullhead fishing, but choose your longest rods so you can cast as far as possible. As for lures, striped bass respond well to hard bait such as stickbait or jerkbait, which would normally be used for bass, but choose white or natural colors. Same for walleye or lake trout jigs, which imitate small bait fish. You can also use your wobbler spoons for sea trout, or your ice fishing jigs for mackerel or cod, as an example.
However, don’t forget to rinse everything out with freshwater after your fishing outing, especially your reel and fishhooks. Salt is a powerful corrosive, and your freshwater gear may not last long otherwise.
If you’d like some advice picking the right gear, have a look at Cyril’s all-time fishing favorites here.
6. Check rules and regulations
Before launching yourself into your saltwater fishing adventure, always check local regulations! While sea fishing doesn’t require a licencse, that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Opening dates, authorized material, quotas, size restrictions… All the information you need is available on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada site.
7. Always be safe
My last piece of advice, if you are lucky enough to fish from a boat, is to always check you have the required safety equipment with you before heading out to sea (life jackets, heaving lines, flashlights, flares, etc.). Fishing from the shore presents a lower risk, but some risk still remains, which is why I always recommend fishing in pairs when possible, checking the weather and reading tide tables and, lastly, letting someone know where you’ll be. Once these measures are taken, all that’s left is to enjoy the thrill of saltwater fishing. Careful though, you’ll catch the fishing bug pretty quickly!
If you’d like to find out more about freshwater, saltwater or ice fishing, don’t hesitate to have a look at the dedicated fishing section on our website.
Also available in: French