Fishing for surf perch provides year round fishing opportunities for anglers in the coastal waters of California. They can be found all up and down the coast line in many different types of habitats. When you find the right spot, you will catch a lot of them. It’s important to read the water, look for troughs that form that they may be hiding in. Hook up a sand crab, sand worm, or a small piece of bait like squid, and have at it.
Surf Perch Fishing Guides and Charter Boats
There are many different fishing guides that offer guided fishing trips for surf perch, and pretty much any other fish that you may want to target. FishingBooker is a service of local guides that you can choose from and schedule your next guided fishing trip. Book A Surf Perch Fishing Guide Today!
Surf Perch Habitat
•Shallow water over sand or rock substrate •Kelp forests •Ocean Bays •Even in Deeper Water up to 750 ft Deep There are many different types of perch in the coastal waters of California. Redtail, Calico, and Striped surfperch are the most sought after shallow water along the beaches composed of sand and small rocky bottoms. In the central and southern California beaches the most targeted surfperch species along the sandy beaches are barred, silver, and walleye surfperch. In the more rocky bottom beaches, anglers target the striped seaperch, rubberlip seaperch, black perch, and pile perch. Along the ocean bays you can find black perch, rubberlip seaperch, shiner perch, and pile perch along the piers and docks. Surfperch fishing does not require specialized gear or techniques, as they are not finicky eaters, however the smaller baits, as well as smaller gear and tackle tends to work the best. You can typically do well with natural baits, lures, and fly fishing gear to catch surfperch.
For the best fishing, you will find the most success fishing for surfperch in lower light conditions such as early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, as well as in overcast conditions that block the bright sun. It is also best to fish during an incoming tide, or right at the change of the tide from high to low or low to high. Though you can catch ocean surfperch at the beach pretty much year round, the bite will get stronger just prior to the mating season in late fall and winter, and during the spawning stage in the spring through the early summer. Tides are important because the surfperch will migrate towards the shore to forage for food. An incoming high tides combined with surf action of the waves will act to dislodge and make available food items such as mole crabs, sand crabs, and sand worms that hide in sand bars. If you plan your surfperch fishing around the tides it will increase the chances of catching more surfperch. Get yourself some Flash Minnows or other stick baits and catch some surf perch today!
When to Fish For Surf Perch
Early Morning, Late Afternoon, and Overcast Days Incoming Tide or Change of Tide from high or low Year Round, Late Fall and Winter, as well as Spring to Early Summer
Surf Perch Fishing Techniques
Try to arrive at the end of a low tide, a minus tide if you have one would be even better. This will expose the depressions, troughs, and small rocks that may hold the surfperch. As the water begins to rise with the tide, use lures, baits, or files along the edges of the sand bars and troughs, as well as the small and medium sized rocks they also hide around to forage for food. The moving water knocks the bait loose out of the sand and they come in to feast.
World Record Big Fish Surf Perch
The biggest world record surf perch catches, as per the International Game Fish Association, are shown below. •Silver Surfperch - 10.5 inches; no weight recorded. •Pile Perch - 2 lb 8 oz Barred SurfPerch - 4 lb 12 oz •Redtail SurfPerch - 3 lb 4 oz •Calico SurfPerch - 2 lb 0 oz •Black Perch - 1 lb 8 oz •RubberLip SeaPerch - 2 lb 12 oz •Shiner Perch - 7 to 8 in (No weight recorded) •Striped SeaPerch - 1 lb 12 oz •Walleye Surfperch - 12 inchesSurf Perch Fishing Information•DFG Guide to Central California Beach Fishing•Berkley Gulp! Sandworm - Top Baits for Surfperch fishing, and stays on the hook! •Berkley Gulp Alive Sand Worms •Berkley Gulp Sandworm •Berkley Gulp Fat Hollow
Types of Surf Perch
Information about the most common types of surf perch is below.
Silver Surfperch Fishing
Silver surfperch are oval in shape, and have a compressed body. They have a small head, but their mouth is pretty large for their size. Their body is silver, with brownish to gray coloration on their backs, and dusky bars on their sides. Sometimes they have an orange spot on their anal fin, and their tail is usually pink with an occasional orange spot on the anal fin. They are very similar to the walleye surfperch, but they don’t have the silver coloring on their pelvic fins. The range of the Silver Surfperch goes from Rio San Vicente, Baja California, to Schooner Cove, near Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These surfperch are small in size, they are typically in the the sandy surf areas as they like shallow sandy environments, but they can sometimes be caught around shallow rocks from piers, and in bays. Silver Surfperch like to eat shrimp, crustaceans, algea, and amphipods. Their babies are born alive and are pretty good size when they are born. Their mating season happens in the fall and early winter months. They have three to seventeen babies, which will arrive in the following spring and summer months. Silver Surfperch are one of the top ten types of surfperch that anglers catch along the California coast as they are a strong fishery with plentiful numbers. The average size is a tenth of a pound, and they are very easy to catch. Also known as the Silver Perch, or Shiner.
Walleye Surfperch Fishing
Walleye surfperch are oval in shape, and have a compressed body. They have a small head, with a small mouth that slants downward, and their eyes are large. Their body is silver with light dusky shading on their back. The tips of the ventral fins, and the border of their anal fin, and their tail, is black. These black colorations are what can help you distinguish the walleye surfperch from other perch. Their range goes from Point San Rosarito, Baja California, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are a schooling fish that like to load up in dense schools of fish that are six to eight feed wide. They are typically found along sandy beaches, near rocks and around piers. During the summer time they like to move up into a bay. They mostly feed on small crustaceans. Their mating season goes from October to December each year, and at this point the dense schools of perch will break up and the males and famales pair off together to breed. They will have between one and nineteen babies, which are born in the following spring. They are about an inch and a half long when they are born, but will reach breeding maturity before the end of their first year. After about six years they can reach about 10.5 inches. You can typically catch Walleye Surfperch in the sandy surf, from rocks, and from piers, pretty much anywhere along the coast, as well as bay environments. You can easily catch them using a small hook, and any number of small pieces of baits like mussels, pieces of fish, worms, squid, or shrimp throughout the year. Other names for the walley surfperch are walley surf fish, walleye seaperch, china pompano, and white perch. The largest recorded Walleye Surfperch is 12 inches.
Shiner Surf Perch Fishing
Shiner perch are an elongated oval shape with a compressed body. They have a short head, and a small mouth. They are grayish green in color and have vertical yellow cross bars with eight horizontal sooty lines along the sides. Their natural range is from San Quintin Bay, Baja California, to Port Wrangell, Alaska. They really like calm water and are usually found in shallow inshore waters in bays around eelgrass beds and the pilings of wharfs and piers, though they have been caught and seen in waters up to 480 feet. Shiner perch typically eat small crustaceans and other invertabrates and other small crustaceans. They can typically be found around pier pilings. Their mating season is during the summer months, and the babies are born the following spring and summer. Shiner perch are caught from the shore, along docks and piers, and around rocks. You can catch them on just about any type of bait, in small pieces. They are also referred to as shiner surfperch, shiner, shiner seaperch, yellow shiner, bay perch, seven-eleven perch. The largest shiner perch ever recorded is 7 inches, and the largest reported one is 8 inches.
Redtail Surfperch Fishing
The redtail surfperch’s body is oval and compressed, like many other surfperch. Their main color is silver, but they have olive green mottling and bars on the side. Their tail color is pink to deep purple. The easiest way to distinguish between the redtail surfperch and the barred or calico surfperch that frequent the same areas is by the pinkish red to deep purple tail and the long spines on their dorsal fin. Their range goes from Avila Beach, California, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and is the most frequent surfperch found from San Francisco and north from there. Redtail surfperch are mostly surf dwellers off of sandy beaches, though you can sometimes find them in rocky areas around sandy beaches. During the spawning season they can be found in estuaries and bays. They typically feed on small crustaceans, small crabs, shrimp, mussels or marine worms like sandworms are also on the menu. The redtail surfperch are born live. The males mature in two years, and females mature in four years. Their mating season is in the fall and the babies are born in the spring and summer months. Females typically have 27 to 51 babies. Before they start to spawn, they concentrate in large numbers, and then move into sheltered inshore waters during the spring and early summer where they can be caught in large numbers. Surfperch anglers prefer the redtail surfperch because the average catch size is 1.8 pounds, and can be caught up to and just over 3 pounds. Anglers prefer light tackle, and crab backs are a good bait for the Bay, and sand crabs, tube worms, sandworms, or clams can be used for bait in the surf. Also known as rosy surf fish, redtail seaperch, porgie, and the Oregon porgie. The largest fish on record for length is a whopping 16 inches. The largest taken off California by a recreational angler is a heavy 3 pounds, 4 ounces.
Rubberlip Seaperch Fishing
Rubberlip Seaperch have an oval and compressed shaped body with a large mouth. They have a whitish body with brown to brassy overtones on their back, which fades to a tanish color below. Their upper jaw is slightly longer than their lower, with whitish or pink lips. Young rubberlip seaperch have one or two vertical dusky bars on their body, which usually fade away as they grow to adults. Due to it’s large size, and thick lips, it is easy to distinguish this fish from all other perches. Their ranges goes from Thurloe Head, Baja California, to the Russian Gulch State Beach in California. They prefer to habitate in rocky areas, kelp beds on the outer coast, and tidepools, as well as in tidal bays and harbors. They feed on crabs, octubus, and shrimp. The smaller fish will feed on typical surfperch food such as worms, sandworms, small crabs, mussels, and little snails. They give live birth to about 21 babies. They are typically targeted from skiffs, piers and the shore, with the average size caught weighing in at around 2 pounds. The most common baits used are mussels, clams, sand worms, cut shrimp or similar baits. They are also known as pile perch, rubberlip surfperch, porgee, sprat, liverlip, buttermouth. The largest recorded Rubberlip Seaperch is 2 pound 12 ounces, which would be about 19.5 inches in length. They prefer a shallow sandy bottom.
YoZuri Hydro Minnow LC Surf Perch Fishing
The new Hydro Minnow LC (long cast) is the ultimate lure for surf fishing for stripers, white sea bass, and surfperch from the beach as it’s made for long casting, and comes in two sizes. This lure is a game changer for surf fishing.
Barred Surfperch Fishing
Barred Surfperch grow to over four pounds with their oval shaped and compressed bodies, and have a large mouth for their size. They are olive green to yellow green on their back, transitioning to silver below. They have bronze, brassy or yellow vertical bars and spots on their side. It’s easy to tell the difference between Barred Surfperch, and the other types of surfperch that frequent the same ares, the calico and redtail, due to its lower jaw being slightly shorter than the upper jaw, and because they don’t have reddish color on its fins. Their range goes from Plaza Maria Bay, Baja California, to Bodega Bay, California. Barred surfperch are typically found in the surf sandy beaches where they congregate in depressions on the bottom, but they have been taken from water as deep as 240 feet. They typically eat sand crabs, and other crustaceans, bean clams and small crabs. They give birth to somewhere between 4 and 113 live babies between March and July. It takes between one and two years to mature, at which time they will grow to about 6.5 inches long, and will continue to grow to between 12 and 17 inches long. Good baits to try to catch them with are soft shelled sand crabs, blood worms, mussels, cut fish, and small artificial lures. The best time to catch them is on an incoming tide when the perch are feeding between the breaker waves. The largest recorded size is 17 inches and weighing in at a whopping 4.5 pounds. They are also known by other names, such as barred perch, silver perch, surf perch, sand perch, silver surf fish. About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Surf Perch Fishing Experience Awaits!