If you don't know how to surf fish, I'd personally recomend circle hooks, between size 2 and 1/0, they take the work out of it for you. You don't have to "set" the hook, when you get a bite, just lift the hook and apply pressure. Depending on the beach conditions, there isn't always a "best time", it's all about where you're fishing. You want to find the troughs and cuts in the bars. Don't overcast, there are times/places where you want distance, but usually most fish are caught within 30' of the beach, as thats where the troughs/sloughs are. Certain fish like certain types of water, but that doesn't mean you won't find them outside of said type. Drum and Sea Mullet love stirred up water, but I've caught my largest Red in beautiful clear water, Pompano are usually caught in the wash close up, and again I caught my personal best on a super long cast out to super clear water near Hatteras Inlet. Talk to the tackle shop guys, listen to them. They don't want to sell you things you don't need, they want to sell you whats working, because if you lose your rigs (assuming you don't tie your own), you'll come back for more!