Reading the Sand
When I first started to surf fish I had no one there to really teach me. It was like a secret society that was hard to break into. I was after all just a kid to most of these guys and this was serious business to them. I am talking about the Seaside Park area around the years from 1955 to the middle 60ís. I was given hints but nothing solid to go on. They kept telling me to learn to read the water; well as a kid I thought there was some mystical insight to the reading of the ocean.
I had a good idea but really was not sure. It was not till I went to college till I finally realized what these guys were talking about. I had to take science classes so I decided to take a couple of classes in Oceanography, at Richard Stockton College, in Pomona, NJ. It was Dr. Stuart C. Farrell PhD. and his description of beach morphology and physical processes affecting shoreline dynamics, that allowed me to finally understand what was going on.
You want to talk about a light going off well it was like the whole room lit up. After class I talked to the professor and had him go into detail as to what goes on. WOW, that was easier than I thought.
I hope I can relate what I learned here in as simple terms as possible. The ocean because of its never ending movement causes the sand to shift constantly there by morphing the shoreline constantly. This can be seen especially after a storm. The beach sand is scarped away by the waves and their constant pounding and loosening if the sand. Where does it go? In simple terms it sits just off shore waiting for redepositing back up onto the beach once more.
In doing so bars are formed a slight distance off shore. Now you have what is called a slough which is a depression that runs parallel to the shoreline. Again lets go back to the constant wave action remember that? Well as it goes over the bars a wave or up swelling is formed sometimes curling and breaking over the bar is it becomes shallow enough. Then the wave flattens out till it comes crashing onto the shore.
What just happened? Well the ocean just delivered a huge amount of water over that bar and now it wants to escape. How? By the force of the water it finds the weakest point in the bar and breaks its way through causing a cut or depression in the bar. It might not be much in fact most of the time it may be only a couple of feet or so.
Knowing this you can use this to your advantage, the fish do. What do I mean by that? Well. As the predator fish attack the bait the bait look for a place to hide, our bottom here is pretty much just sand so any depression the bait can find they make use of. More of this later.
Another distinguishing effect is the rip current. This is caused by the current running through the cut in the bar perpendicular to the beach. In the summer you hear once in a while a person swimming and suddenly is taken a long distance off shore. What happened now? The current is strong enough to carry anything off shore and that is including people. For us, it can be a problem, for the bait and fish feeding it is a super highway to either a good meal or safety.
When the water is high or it is too rough to see the cuts or the rips caused by the cuts simply read the beach. Now were are getting to the point of this article.
As the water caused by the tides rise and fall carve out sand from the beach and carry this off the beach and through the cut in the bar. This is a good place to try your luck as the fish you are trying to target are looking for bait that are washed out by this rip current.
Try the sides of the rip and also in the back parts of the slough between the bar and the shore line.
As you look at the pictures also look at the beach and you will see that there is a low area forming caused by the waves and the current of the fast moving current off the beach.
I hope this makes scenes and opens up a lot more spots to try and land that big one. I want you to also notice the amount of sand that has eroded off the beach since Thursday and Friday.
FYI, I noticed that there were 7 new rips on that short section of Ortley Beach alone.
Good Luck, Happy Catching