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10 Best Tips for How to Fish Without a Boat

No boat? No problem! Here's everything you need to know about how to fish without a boat.

10 Best Tips for How to Fish Without a Boat

So you’re on the search for fish but you don’t have access to a boat. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered. Land-based fishing can be daunting and seemingly impossible sometimes but we’re here to help. If you just follow some specific tips and look for some specific landmarks it can make all the difference. Here’s our top 10 tips for fishing without a boat.

Using Google Maps Satellite

google maps satellite image of mud creek in Fort Pierce
Getting a birds-eye view will allow you to gauge depths and map unseen bottom variations, giving you a better understanding of where the fish are most likely to hang out.

Google Maps satellite view may be the single most useful tool for a land-based angler. This is the equivalent of using a fish finder offshore. The satellite imagery can help you to pinpoint good spots that you may not have otherwise known about. It’ll also save you some time. There is no worse feeling than reading about a spot on an old forum post, or hearing about one from a friend and then showing up to find there is absolutely no access or parking. Scour the map for local goldmines near you. It could pay dividends.  

Locating Your Local Pier

fishing pier at sunrise
Pier fishing gives you a leg up when it comes to shore fishing. The height advantage allows you to see fish, bait and even bottom on clear days, while the structure aids in keeping fish close by.

Piers are some of the best land-based fishing destinations in the world. Florida has a myriad of awesome public piers that have long been responsible for some of the most incredible fishing without a boat. Some of the boaters and captains are even envious of the incredible action and will often try to get as close as possible. Some notable Florida piers that are top-notch are Juno Beach Pier, Sanibel Island Pier, Sebastian Inlet Pier and Dania Beach Pier. These are just the tip of the iceberg. The more you look the more you’ll find. Florida is a very easy place to fish without a boat and our local cities have provided some excellent opportunities. If you need some additional tips on pier fishing, check out our article on four easy pier fishing rigs.

Learn the Surf

bright blue wave cresting along the beach
Learning how waves form—and where they don't—will paint a picture of the sand bottom in front of you. Walking the beach and studying the water will teach you much more than just slinging a line out and crossing your fingers.

Learning the surf can be extremely intimidating. To approach a beach and look to your left and right and see nothing but endless sand, where do you even begin? Knowing how to read the water will give you an immediate advantage—recognizing where the trough, cuts, sandbars and runouts are will give you an idea of where predator fish will be staging. The next step is to just start casting! Beaches that are situated near inlets and areas with current or structure are typically your best bet. You can refer to tip number one to help find those areas. Fish will forage and use the current or structure to help them do so, connecting with bait fish at prime ambush points.

close up of swimbait on a heavy jig  head about to be cast into the surf
A heavy bait paired with a long surf rod will give you the distance you can sometimes need on the beach. Again, reading the water is key. The fish could be closer or further than you think.

Some useful tools you should have when navigating the surf are some cheap binoculars, a good pair of polarized sunglasses, a surfcasting combo that is at least 10’ in length to help you get your plug out and some good and easy-to-use plugs. My go to’s are typically large soft plastic swim baits that are just cast and retrieve, large jerk baits like the SP minnow and then a popper. This helps you cover all of the water columns. 

Locate Inlets

fisherman holding snook caught on a fishing jetty
Inlet jetties are prime locations to fish from shore. Tons of water flow, migrations of bait and deep cuts draw predator fish to these locations.

One of the best tips we can give you for fishing without a boat is to locate inlets and passes near you. Inlets are areas where bays dump water into the ocean and the ocean tides come into rivers and estuaries. These areas almost always have some land-based access and tons of fish. Inlets have extremely high currents so be weary of this and always be safe!

fisherman casting a large surf rod from a fishing jetty
Jetty setups are similar to other beach fishing outfits. Rig heavy, as water can really move through an inlet during peak tides.

The same plugs mentioned above for the surf should do you just fine when attacking the inlet. If you want to target inlets with more accuracy, check out this article on EXACTLY how to dial them in.

Find Bridges

Bridges are another excellent place to fish without a boat.  A wise captain once said, “Every bridge in Florida holds fish.” There may not be a truer statement. Why bridges? They typically provide an abundance of structure and bait, these are two things that predatory species LOVE. Snapper, grouper, snook, redfish, sheepshead, trout and almost every Florida inshore species could be hiding under a bridge. Bridges are another excellent place without a boat because they often are easily accessible, refer to tip number one before you get out to make sure. If you want some additional tips on how to fish bridges, see the Bridge Fishing Basics here.

Using Artificial or Live Shrimp

DOA shrimp lure in rootbeer and chartreuse
Artificial shrimp lures like this D.O.A shrimp, are absolutely essential in any shore fishermans aresenal. Colors like rootbeer, pictured with a chartreuse tail, and new penny are great for murky water. In bright light, try holo or gold flake. Night fishing, go for glow!

Now that we have some awesome directions for finding spots to fish without a boat, let’s discuss some methods to catch. Artificial and live shrimp are some of the BEST baits in the world. Sometimes your local tackle shop may not have live shrimp but you can always find some artificial ones. There is a saying in fishing, “Everything in the ocean eats shrimp,” and it's true! Learning how to work an artificial shrimp the right way can yield some incredible results when live shrimp are unavailable. The best tip I can give you is to let it sink to the bottom and give it a nice jerk up and repeat the process. Think about how shrimp move and try to replicate that. Try working it at different speeds and to see what the fish want that day. You'd be surprised how painfully slow you need to move to entice a bite on some colder mornings. You can take an artificial shrimp to the majority of shore fishing spots and find action at nearly any of them.

If you have access to live shrimp, I like to simply use it with either an egg weight and swivel or a popping cork. The egg weight can help you fish the bottom, ideal for fishing potholes, cuts and plumbing other deeper drop-offs. The popping cork rig will keep the shrimp suspended in the water column, great for avoiding hangups on rocky or oyster-laden bottom or drifting through glassy flats.

Learn the Art of the Spook

fishing rods leaning on big rock
Heddon Zara Spook on left in Bone. Switch out the trebles for single hooks to avoid tangles and mishaps.

The topwater spook is one of the most prolific lures in the world of fishing. Whether it is freshwater or saltwater, they’ve been catching fish for generations. The topwater spook is not only one of the most effective ways to fish but one of the BEST. You can throw a spook pretty much anywhere in Florida and have a great fishing day. 

Learn to Throw a Cast Net

This is an important tip for fishing without a boat. Learning to throw a cast net is so important if you really want to improve your catch rate. Having some live bait can be the difference between fishing and catching. Although it may seem daunting it’s not as hard as it looks.


Dial in a Spot

google maps satellite image of Blind pass
Studying an area inside and out will give you confidence on the water to know on any given day, in any conditions, you'll have the best chance at catching fish.

This may be our best tip for fishing without a boat. Oftentimes when we don’t have access to a boat, our fishing options may be limited. The best way to produce consistently is to focus a lot of time on learning one spot in and out. Be the best angler in that spot. Learn the tides, the depths, the right presentation, the best times of day and the best times of year—as they say, learn it like the back of your hand.  This is a super important tip for learning how to fish successfully without a boat. Growing up, I fished Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel Island every single day as much as I could. I knew exactly what would work there on any given day at any given time. This was only because I spent time LEARNING the spot like crazy. If you don’t get results initially, keep at it and they’ll come. Consistency is the best way to find the fish.

Have Fun!

Our last tip is to remember to have fun. Fishing is about enjoying the outdoors, making memories, and having fun. All too often we get caught up in the catch and we forget the old saying, “Any day on the water is better than a day indoors.” Some of my best fishing days have come when I wasn’t even trying. Just went to enjoy the outdoors and happened to be at the right place at the right time. Remember to have fun and clean up your monofilament, lures and any other trash you may have and continue to help keep our beautiful waterways clean. Tight lines!

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