Is surf fishing dangerous?

I’ve always thought that saltwater surf fishing could be a very dangerous sport but some of my friends have convinced me to give it a try in Florida. Are there any things out there that I should watch out for?

If you’re new to the sport, I’d strongly suggest making sure that you have a few experienced fishermen along with you your first time out.  In addition to the normal safety precautions you should take anytime you’re fishing though, you’ll also want to keep your eye out for Jellyfish, Stingrays and the Florida saltwater catfish.  While these species are not going to attack without provocation, their ability to defend themselves when they feel threatened can be extremely painful and sometimes even deadly.  Jellyfish live in the water and are more of a problem when surf-fishing.  The tentacles of the jellyfish contain thousands of stinging cells that release a thread laced with poison.  The scariest of the Jellyfish species is the Portuguese Man-of-War which can have tentacles more than 10 feet long.  In some cases, the tentacles of the jellyfish will break off and float in the water or wash up on the beach.  Stingrays can also present a problem for anyone who may be walking in or along the surf line.  The stingray’s tail has a serrated barb on the end of it.   If you accidentally step on one, it will sting.  Wearing shoes or shuffling your feet instead of picking them up can help you avoid them.  If you’re stung by a stingray, you need to seek medical attention.  The Florida Saltwater Catfish can also be dangerous when caught if you don’t know that the fish has a poisonous barbed spine in the top and side fins.  These barbs have actually been known to penetrate the sole of a sneaker.  It’s extremely important to know how to identify these fish and to practice caution when taking them off the hook. 

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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