Let's Go Fishing Report

Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA

John Sipin from Watsonville surfcast an area near Sunset Beach to nail this chunky barred surf perch.
Photo Credit: photo credit Brad Spahn

by Allen Bushnell

We always appreciate contact from the fishing community of the greater Monterey Bay area. Jeff Canepa is part of an historical Santa Cruz family, and also hosts the Veteran’s Bay Cruise on the family boat the beautiful Ocean Pearl, now docked in Monterey Harbor. Jeff asked if we could make mention of one of our area celebrities, John Sipin. Canepa told us, “John, if you recall, was one of our local heroes who played professional baseball in Japan (Kawasaki Whales Team). John’s a special guy, Watsonville native and has a ‘knack’ for beach fishing.”

Aptly, the Whales team began as the Taiyo Fishing Company. Sipin also was a second baseman for the San Diego Padres prior to playing nine seasons as a superstar in Japan. He now applies that same kind of kind of focus and determination to the pursuit of stripers and perch from the surf. From the looks of the photo provided by fishing partner Brad Spahn, Sipin does pretty darn good!

And, surf perch season is well upon us now. Once conditions clear up from these latest and much appreciated rainstorms, we’ll be looking at brand new winter-style beach topography. These are the beach conditions that best provide distinct feeding opportunities and areas for hungry perch and striped bass.

Another expert surfcaster, Alex Velasco from Marina has tutored dozens of anglers on the intricacies of surfcasting over the years. In his youth, Velasco used the classic 12-foot heavy surf rod with a pyramid weight below a couple dropper loop bait hooks. As he gathered knowledge, he transitioned to a lighter, more nuanced approach to fishing the surf. One that covers more territory as well as providing more excitement.

Velasco says, “My gear is now a 10'6" to 11'6" ultra-light noodle rod with a Shimano 4000 spinning reel spooled with eight-pound Maxima Ultragreen line. I’ll use a sliding egg sinker, an orange bead to protect the knot, a large barrel swivel, an eight pound leader and a #8 bronze Gamakatsu bait-holder hook. The leader is almost the length of my pole during incoming tide and shorter during low tide. Depending on the area and time of the year, bait options are sand-crabs, mussels, blood-worms, grass shrimp and clams.”

It’s very important to “read” the water, according to Velasco. “I always walk along the beach till I find a sandbar where the surge is breaking and the backwash is dropping into the edge of the sandbar. This is where the perch are usually feeding on all the crustaceans being washed out. Rip currents can be productive as well. Cast out close to the edge of the sand bar, keep a tight line and let the surge take your bait into the hole. If there's fish feeding there you will hook into them.”

In next week’s column, we’ll take a look at some alternative tackle, bait and lure options that may help to make this season your best perching year ever.

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