Helpful surfcasting tips ahead of the Sand Crab Classic

Santa Cruz

Helpful surfcasting tips ahead of the Sand Crab Classic
Yes there will be some big perch biting this weekend for the Sand Crab Classsic Perch Tournament, a evidenced by the author’s prize catch last weekend.

by Allen Bushnell

Surfcasters from all over Northern California are looking forward to the 19th Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament being held on Saturday. The weather forecast looks fairly decent with low winds, waves and swell. Winds are expected to blow up to 15 knots, and we’ll have a mixed swell from one to four feet. Starting at dawn with low light and still winds might be the key to bringing home a coveted golden perch trophy. High tide at 5.71 feet will peak at 9:06am, giving anglers the ideal conditions of a rapidly dropping outgoing tide. lately, the outgoing highs have been most productive for the beaches ringing Monterey Bay. Surfcasting from those beaches is still the best bet for local perch action.The spots from Santa Cruz to Moss Landing and even around the Bay towards Monterey are hosting an increasing number of surfcasters. Reports indicate these anglers are having a blast catching the occasional barred and calico surfperch weighing up to two pounds, along with a mix of smaller perch, mostly barred.

Most surfcasters use a 7 or 8-foot rod rigged with a sliding sinker above a three-foot leader. Using light gear increases the chances of a strike, and makes the fight more exciting. Four or six-pound test leader material is plenty for these fish that rarely exceed two pounds. The preferred lures are root beer or motor-oil colored grubs, though many anglers are finding huge success using GULP sandworms. Using a live sandcrab instead of a lure almost guarantees success in catching these lively fish. Retrieving the lure slowly will entice hits as the bait or lure waves in the current. Those using sandcrabs or other live bait such at shrimp or sea worms are advised to let that bait sit just outside the shorebreak as long as possible. This is often where the monsters lurk.

For those who prefer a more relaxed approach to surf fishing, a pyramid sinker below two dropper loops and baited with a sandcrab, pileworm, shrimp, clam or mussel is another proven method of catching surfperch. Grubs or artificial baits are effective with the dropper loop rigs as well. This is a great way to surf fish, casting out as far as you can, and putting the fishing rod in a pole holder. Watch the rod tip for nibbles and bites. 

A critical aspect of surf fishing is to locate the correct spot to fish. Surfcasters walk the beaches, looking for deep spots and rip currents that indicate good feeding spots for the perch. These fish tend to school up, so when you catch one fish, stay in that spot for a while and you will likely catch more. Rocky headlands and the big points at each end of Monterey Bay hold some larger variety of surfperch. Blacks, rainbow and striped perch can be found along the cliffs and boulders of our North Coast beaches, or the Carmel headlands. Artificials can certainly work for these perch, though many anglers prefer to fish bait in those areas. Bring plenty of extra tackle, getting snagged is part of the game when fishing the rocks.

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