Enjoy the fun and good fishing that comes when you take your truck onto the beach.
With rods strapped to the roof, a grill tied down on the tailgate and sand under the tires, it promises to be a perfect evening. As the truck makes the turn off the trail and onto the open beach, the last building in sight ducks behind the dunes. The moderate onshore wind has created enough whitewater to reveal the structure sitting below the waves.
Eyes peeled for a smooth spot flanked by breakers—a place where stripers would confidently invade the trough next to the beach to feast on the spearing, sand eels and crabs seeking refuge there—I motor the truck over the hard-packed sand left exposed by the falling tide.
I find what I’m looking for a mile-and-a-half down the beach, a break in the outer bar with whitewater spilling into the trough. The truck rolls to a stop, ignition off, and it’s time to get to work. My fiancée Pam fires up the grill while I drive in the sand spikes. Burgers and dogs on the menu for the fishermen, fresh cut bunker on the menu for the fish.
Twenty minutes later, burgers in hand, seconds already on the grill, we’re watching the rod tips bow softly with each incoming wave as the light fades, hoping that bass are nearby, looking for an evening meal as well.
There are several items that are required in order to obtain an oversand permit. Be sure to have these in your vehicle anytime you are driving on the beach.
- Tow Chain
- Plywood Board
(minimum ¾-inch thick, 12- by 12-inch)
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Fire Extinguisher
- Spare Tire
- First Aid Kit
Having a four-wheel-drive vehicle capable of driving on the beach is the primary reason I wanted a truck. Driving over the sand opened up new opportunities and new stretches of shoreline that inaccessible on foot. It also allowed me to bring more gear than I could ever carry on the beach by myself. This didn’t just include fishing gear, but grills, coolers, firewood, and friends and family who would otherwise be difficult to convince to go fishing. Another benefit of driving on the beach that has never been lost on me is the ability to hop into the truck for a minute to blast the heat and warm up without taking the lines out of the water.
Rules of the Road
Beach Fishing Essentials
Metal Sand Spikes
Don’t end up chasing your rod to the water’s edge when a striper threatens to pull it out to sea; a tall metal sand spike will not only stay put better than a PVC holder, it will lift your line above the breaking waves and keep your bait from being dragged out of the strike zone.
When fishing after dark, a small glow stick taped to your rod tip will keep you from guessing about whether or not something has picked up your bait.
If you plan on fishing bait on the beach, spinning reels with a bait-feeder feature will pay out line to biting fish, allowing them to take a bait without feeling any resistance until you can get to the rod and set the hook.
Cooler & Cutting Board
For bait and beverages, a good cooler is a necessity on the beach.
Before driving onto the sand, you’ll need to put your truck into four-wheel drive and air down your tires. Airing down your tires creates a wider base when driving on the beach, making it less likely that your tires will dig into the sand. Always remember to re-inflate your tires after driving on the beach. Driving too long or too fast on a hard surface in aired-down tires can lead to a blowout. Some beaches will have an air compressor nearby, but if they don’t, drive at a safe speed to the nearest gas station to air back up.
On the beach, maintain a safe speed. Speed limits are often posted at the drive on, and are usually 15 miles-per-hour or less. Keep your eyes on the sand for holes or debris.
The more popular beaches will have tire tracks moving through the sand, and the sand in these tracks is often packed down a bit more than the untouched sand, making it easier to drive. If there is no one near the water and the tide is falling, the sand below the high tide line is often flat and packed down, making for a very smooth ride. Just make sure you aren’t interfering with anyone who is parked higher up on the beach and that the incline isn’t too severe.
Always avoid driving on the dunes and dune grass at the base of the dunes. This is a sore subject with park rangers or enforcement at the driving beach.