Consistent and Constant Accessibility For Surfperch Fishing

Monterey Bay

Kanoa Sharp from Monterey used a gold-flaked grub to catch this beautiful barred surf perch this week.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing Radio Show

by Allen Bushnell

The greatest thing about surfperch fishing is the consistent and constant accessibility. For residents, they are literally “The fish at the end of the street.” Casting bait, artificials or lures from the shore anywhere along the Monterey Bay can potentially provide fishing action as well as dinner. With a year-round season for surfperch, it only depends on the species habits and movements to determine where and when you might get into a good bite. You don’t need a boat. Just go for a nice walk on the beach. How simple. Even the simplest practices have levels and depths to them, however. Dedicated surfcasters eventually succumb to the intricacies that inform the pursuit of any kind of fish.

Most surfcasters wear waders while casting in the shorebreak. Using waders with the boot attached seems to be the preference for wader wearers. Separate wading boots tend to fill up with sand. In a nod towards simplicity, an increasing number of anglers working the surfline are going “Santa Cruz Style,” barefoot with surfing jams or quick-dry shorts. This technique has the bonus advantage of locating sandcrabs with your toes. Sandcrabs just might be the best bait for feeding perch as well as the occasional roving striper. Especially the soft-shelled sandcrabs, when you can find them. (In spring and summer,look for the crabs that are slowest diggers while the whitewater recedes.) Larger concentrations of sandcrabs are easily visible in the wet sand just above the shorebreak. The surface looks rough or pebbly, and the little crab antennae leave “V” shaped tracks in the outgoing wave flow. Casting out in front of a good sandcrab bed increases the chances of a hook up. After all, the fish should be where the food is. Other organic bait that can be harvested along the shoreline include sand worms, rockworms, mussels and clams.

Artificial baits work really well for most surfperch. Curly or paddle-tailed grubs are the historical standard for surfcasters. They come in an infinite variety of colors, but the motor-oil grubs, with imbedded gold flakes or red flakes are the top choice for surfcasters. Root beer colored grubs follow as a close second choice. Adding a scent like shrimp oil to the grub can also make a difference. A number of tackle companies are now producing scented soft baits that are almost guaranteed to get bit. There’s a vast array of choices with the most popular being the GULP! two-inch sandworm in Camo or Blood colors. Threaded onto a #2 to #4 baitholder hook, these are proven fish attractors, and are biodegradable.

Next week, we will look at more surfcasting details. In the meantime, get out and fish! Our suggestion for the most productive spots right now are the big broad beaches from Sand City up to Rio Del Mar.

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