I've posted this information on surf fishing with bait before but this is a good excuse to run it out again...
Study your beach at low tide to learn its structure. Fish are foraging at specific places within this structure. Some spots will be more productive than others, even within a 200 yard stretch of beach. Look for anything distinctive. A point of sand sticking out from the beach, a deeper hole, or a shallow sandbar beside a drop off into deeper water. More fish will be caught around these spots or near a break in the beach bar.
There's often an offshore sand bar running parallel to the beach somewhere between 10 and 40 yards out. Incoming waves will break as they come over this sand bar, smooth out, and then break again against the beach. The water between the bar and the beach is the slough (pronounced sloo). Almost all of the fishing action is in the slough. I prefer a narrower slough as it concentrates the fish closer to shore.
The offshore bar isn't uniform - there are low spots (breaks) in the bar where the water flows into the slough as the tide rises and flows out as the tide falls. Fishing is often better in the vicinity of one of these breaks. You can tell where these bar breaks are by watching the waves as they break over the bar at low tide. Look for places where a wave crossing the bar doesn't break at all or not as much. These breaks in the bar are typically about 20 yards wide. Often, the slough is deeper in front of these breaks in the bar. The color of the water in these holes will be a little darker. Sometimes, there will be a point of sand sticking out from the beach in front of a break.
You'll be fishing for two types of fish - bottom feeders (spot, croaker, sea mullet) and game fish (bluefish, flounder, puppy drum, trout).
The bottom feeders are foraging on the bottom (doh!) of the slough for sand fleas and any other bits of edible stuff they can find. They feed close to the beach or in the aforementioned holes. Fish for them with small hooks (#2 or #4) on a top and bottom rig with a weight that's just heavy enough to hold the bottom. For bait, use small live sandfleas, 1/2" pieces of shrimp, or 1/2" pieces of bloodworm. The tackle shop also has imitation bloodworms that aren't nearly as gross or expensive as the live ones. Most of the bottom feeders will be 6 to 12 inch light weights but, who knows, you might tie into a pound and a half citation sea mullet. A 3 pound world record Southern Kingfish (aka sea mullet) was caught in November, 2019 in Avon.
Bluefish, puppy drum, and sea trout prowl the slough eating small bottom feeders. Fish for them with with medium hooks (#1 or #1/0) on a top and bottom rig with a 2 or 3 ounce diamond sinker that will hold the rig in one place - you're going to let these fish come to you. Use 2 inch by 1/2 inch strips of scaled, fileted baitfish (the tackle shop has a cooler of striped mullet out front) or small whole shrimp. Even better, filet a bottom feeder you've just caught!
Flounder are a different kettle of fish. They lay on the bottom of the slough facing into the current and let their prey come to them. Fish for them with a flounder rig and 3 inch by 1/2 inch strips of squid body (tackle stores sell frozen squid). The water in the slough is moving to the left or right depending on the tides and wind. Look for a place where the slough narrows or gets more shallow. That's where the flounder might be. Position yourself by this spot, cast up current and let the baited rig drift into the target area.
A few more things...
** Get a license and know the minimum legal size for the game fish (there is no minimum for the bottom feeders).
** Dawn and dusk are sometimes better than mid day but often you have to fish when you can, not when you want to.
** If you've got a good size fish on, try to "surf it in" on an incoming wave rather than dragging it in against an outgoing wave.
** Watch other fishermen. If they're catching fish, ignore the preceding gobbledygook and do what they're doing.
** Surf fishing is hit or miss at best. A frosty beverage or three may help to pass the time.