When you take the time to understand rips and gutters, and the general behaviour of the waves, you will improve your chances of catching fish from the beach dramatically.
By looking at the waves, and the way they break, you can get a good idea of the sea bed underneath. When you can visualize this, you will know where the holes and gutters are, and this is where the bigger fish like to roam as they wait for smaller fish to swim by.
The general basis of this works by knowing that when you see a wave breaking, you know the water is shallower there (waves start to break as soon as they reach shallower waters).
So if you see waves breaking in a line, but then you see a break in the waves, you know the water underneath is deeper. This will tell you that there is a hole or gutter there, so would be a good place to throw your bait or your lures.
You can then start to understand the size and shape of the hole or gutter, by again looking at the waves, where they stop and start to break again. Sometimes they will be long gutters that run out perpendicular to the beach, where others will run parallel.
When you arrive at your beach destination to fish, you should take the time to look at the surf. Walk along the beach until you can clearly see rips and breaks in the surf, so you know there will be a hole or gully there. This will be a great place to fish.
The great thing about fishing like this is that good size gutters will always have a lot of bigger fishing moving into them as they look for their feed. Smaller fish get disoriented in the surf, and this is when the bigger fish hit them, when they come out of the protection of the deeper waters.