Javier Paramo, Grace Volz secure virtual derby titles

Monterey Bay

Barred Surfperch, Barred Surfperch
Sand Crab Classic Virtual Derby 2021 first place Senior Women’s division Grace Volz hoists the15-inch barred surf perch from Monterey Bay that won her the big trophy this year.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Let's Go Fishing

by Allen Bushnell

Since its inception in 2005, the Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby has become an institution among the surfcasters of the Monterey Bay region and well beyond. Attracting nearly 150 participants in the first year of competition, the derby has had to limit entries to “only” 300 anglers for the past six years. The derby is a family-friendly community affair. All proceeds always go to support the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

In 2020, the 300 entries sold out online in just one hour. You can imagine the deep disappointment when the Derby was postponed due to COVID just days prior to the event. In 2021, another postponement was necessary due to Health Department regulations. This year, however, the Sand Crab Classic sponsored a ‘Virtual Derby,” wherein angers could submit their big perch catches online. A number of large fish were recorded as entrants, but none surpassed those of the two winners. We are a community of good sports, and offer our congratulations to this years "VIRTUAL" Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby Winners!!

First Place Men's Division Trophy went to Javier Paramo from Capitola for his winning 15 3/4" Barred Surf Perch. First Place Women’s Division was captured by Grace Volz from Aromas for her 14 7/8” Barred Surf Perch. Paramo quipped, “Yahoo. Caught that momma on a bloodworm near Sand Dollar, clicked a picture and released her, while Volz reported “Thank you, caught in Monterey Bay on a grub and I ate mine. Soo delicious!”

Surfcasters all around the Bay are remarking on a noticeable increase in perch catches, especially the barred surf perch. There are quite a few juveniles in the mix, please treat them gently and release. Anything over 10-12 inches may be worth keeping and cooking. A few limits of perch in that range were reported this week, mostly from the beaches adjoining Moss Landing, and the Salinas Rivermouth. And, the number of bigger trophy perch has remained consistent. While not common, big slabs in the 14-16-inch range are delighting surfcasters lucky enough to hook one. Most of these big perch are hanging just behind the inside shorebreak, so let your bait hang in that area. Don’t reel in too fast and miss a hit.

Boat anglers that made it out last week found decent good fishing for wintertime prey. Stagnaro’s Sportfishing made a trip on Sunday with 19 anglers aboard the Legacy. They enjoyed pulling multiple fish over the rails with a surprising variety, Ken Stagnaro reported, “Sunday ‘dabs trip on Legacy: Caught 387 Sand Dabs for 19 fishers, eight petrale sole and a few dover sole. We’re down to the last weekend for ‘dabs coming up. Rock fish and salmon open in April.”

We are only a week away from season openers for rockfish and salmon fishing. Boaters should be checking all the mechanicals on the boats as well as the electronics. Check the Coast Guard Safety Equipment Guidelines and double-check your compliance. Don’t forget to look at your trailer as well. Nothing can ruin an early morning of fishing as a burnt out bearing leaving you, and your boat stuck on the side of Highway One while everyone else is steaming out of the harbor.

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