Saltwater game fish are among the most popular targets for anglers all across the world. While you’ve likely heard about adventurous trips out to sea, many miles away from the nearest shoreline, you don’t always have to venture out far away from land to catch some of the most sought-after fish species in the ocean.
Some of the most enjoyable and rewarding fishing trips are done very close to land, often in just a few feet of water. Most anglers are well-aware of what is meant when someone mentions an “offshore” fishing trip, but what exactly is “inshore” fishing?
If you asked a dozen anglers to come up with a definition of the term inshore fishing, you’re likely to end up with a dozen different answers. This is mainly because there are countless game fish species that can be found around the coastline, inlets, and harbors of any ocean-side destination. There are also seemingly endless methods to target and catch these fish, which makes inshore fishing equally as exciting as deep-sea fishing in most cases.
Inshore fishing is the most popular type of fishing in the United States with 51% of anglers fishing from the shoreline in 2019. (Source)
In this article, we will attempt to answer one of the most common questions that anglers have when getting started in saltwater fishing: What is inshore fishing?
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Best Places for Inshore Fishing
According to most anglers, inshore fishing is considered that which is done in any water that’s roughly 25 feet or less in depth. While it is true that there are varying degrees of depth when it comes to coastal areas in different places across the world, most inshore fishing is done in just a few feet of water or perhaps just over 10 feet in many cases.
The exact depth you’ll be fishing in really comes down to the type of game fish species that you’re going after. Most larger inshore fish species will generally be in slightly deeper water while the smaller variations can sometimes be caught in just a few feet.
Quantity Over Quality
While it is sometimes true that you can catch dozens of quality game fish on a good day of offshore fishing, you’re much more likely to catch greater numbers of fish while inshore fishing. This is mainly due to the fact that there are often many more types of fish hanging around coastal areas compared to the varying types of fish you’re likely to find swimming around an underwater reef, shipwreck, or oil rig far offshore.
Most Popular Inshore Fish Species
Some of the fish you’re likely to catch while inshore fishing are often not going to be found in offshore fishing environments. However, it is true that you can actually catch some of the most sought-after offshore game fish species while fishing inshore if you know how to target them properly.
Some of the most popular inshore fish species are:
Many of these species are excellent table fare and you can catch enough for a sizable dinner in just a few hours of fishing on a good day. Some of these species of inshore fish can grow to be quite large with fish like tarpon, striped bass, and others growing to immense sizes. If you’re somewhat familiar with inshore fishing, you’re probably already aware that you don’t always have to go very far to catch a monster-sized fish.
If you are looking for the right gear for your fishing trip then have a look at our guide for the best inshore spinning reels.
Different Tackle and Bait
When it comes to inshore fishing, you’re likely to be using very different types of tackle and bait in most cases. Anglers who are relatively familiar with offshore fishing know that they will likely need a thick, heavy rod and greater pound test line in order to have a reasonable chance at landing anything they happen to catch.
You’ll also be using different types of natural bait when inshore fishing as well. It’s commonplace to use large cut bait, squid or other variations of live bait when deep sea fishing, but you can usually get by with much smaller options for inshore fishing. Some of the most popular baits for inshore fishing are:
- Sand flea
- Threadfin herring
Year-Round Fishing Opportunities
One of the best things about inshore fishing is that you can usually find some type of game fish species that are in season at any time of the year. No matter where you happen to be fishing, you’re likely to have more opportunity to catch some type of fish as compared to the chances of catching a limit of typical offshore species.
Different Methods for Catching Fish
As we’ve already noted, you can expect to be using different types of bait for inshore fishing, but you’ll also be using much different methods of fishing compared to the techniques you might use far offshore. You won’t have to rely on electronic equipment or GPS positioning devices in the same way you usually do when fishing many miles offshore. Instead, anglers will mostly study the various types of structure and other elements that are likely to attract fish such as bridges, piers, jetties, islands, points, and many other areas.
Depending on the specific fish you’re going after, you might find yourself fishing in water that’s 20 feet deep, or even casting a topwater bait around the shoreline in water that’s barely over 2 feet in depth. In either case, inshore fishing is vastly different compared to offshore and it may take an experienced angler years to properly learn and perfect their own methods of catching inshore fish species.
Offshore fishing is one of the most unique forms of angling as there is truly nothing like it in the world. However, most freshwater anglers who don’t live near a coastal area might find that they can pick up the nuances and tactics related to inshore fishing much more quickly than those associated with offshore pursuits. This is mainly due to the fact that there are many similarities between freshwater fishing in lakes and inshore fishing.
If you’re looking to get started with inshore fishing, be sure to adequately study the different types of fish you’re able to catch at certain types of the year and prepare your tackle and strategy accordingly. If you’re like most anglers, you’ll quickly find that inshore fishing can be a bit different, but every bit as fun as offshore angling.