We are answering all your questions about perch fishing! From how to go surf fishing for perch, the best bait for perch, what gear you'll need, and everything you need to catch surf perch just like the experts!
Surf fishing is quite the adventure! Not only is it an awesome way to catch surf perch, but our favorite part is fishing while the waves are crashing all around us!
Maybe it's the thrill of the chase as you try to hook one of these feisty little fish, or maybe it's the satisfaction of reeling in a big one after a long day out on the water. Perch fishing is always a good time with the best scenery.
And a delicious payoff at the end of the day is coming from after perch fishing with your fresh bounty!
So grab your gear, hit the water, and get ready for a day of fun and adventure!
Table of Contents
WHAT IS SURF PERCH?
Surf perch is a type of fish that is commonly found in the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean. Perch is known for being able to thrive in the turbulent waters of the surf zone, where they feed on small crustaceans and other marine organisms. Most commonly sand shrimp, small clams, and baby crabs.
Fun Facts on Perch:
Perch are typically silver or gray in color with a red tail, which helps in naming them Redtail surfperch. The older perch have more distinct green stripes that they tend to grow throughout their lifespan. As pictured above, you can see the difference in stripes and markings.
Surf perch can grow up to 16 inches in length, and can be as heavy as 4.5 lbs.
They are a popular target for recreational anglers, who often use bait such as sand shrimp or worms to lure them in. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including sandy beaches, rocky reefs, and estuaries.
Perch play an important part of the food chain for many other marine animals, including sea lions, dolphins, and seabirds.
Overall, surf perch are a fascinating and important species that play an important role in the coastal ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.
BEST SURF FISHING TIPS
- Check and know the tides!
- Look for a good spot to fish.
- Watch the water if you’re in the surf. Logs and debris often get brought in during a high tide.
- Use live bait for the best results while fishing for surf perch! Thought there's other options, we find great results using live or fresh bait along with our correct set-up.
- Wear the proper gear. We go over the best gear to have below.
- Get the right set-up. From the rod, to the line, weights, and rigs, they all play an important role in catching surf perch. Look below for our outline of the best set-up for success.
Now, let’s dive into all the details of perch fishing!
HOW TO FISH FOR PERCH
From what to wear, to the proper rod, line, rig and hook set-up, it all plays an important role on how to catch a perch. Here's a full outline of everything you need to know:
What To Wear
It’s important to dress appropriately for the weather when surf fishing. We recommend a breathable top if it’s nice out and a waterproof jacket or vest for rainy days. For surf fishing, waders with boots attached are a must. They make sure you stay dry where it counts.
On hot summer days, you might want to cool off by wearing just swimming trunks.
Unlike lake and river fishing, for perch fishing, you’ll need a clamming net tied around your waist. As you catch fish, you can then easily put them in the clam bag and get right back to your next cast.
We recommend you also have a little extra bait handy on your person. We’ll cover the different types of bait later on in this article. Bring a Ziploc bag full so you don’t run back and forth every time you need them.
If it’s nice and sunny out, be sure to grab a pair of sunglasses, preferably polarized! Polarized sunglasses help to reduce glare and help you see better in brighter conditions, which is helpful on water.
Don’t forget about keeping your phone safe! For safety and catching a few pictures, it’s nice to have our phones on us. Bring it in a waterproof phone pouch to keep it dry.
Fishing Pole Set-up For Perch Fishing
What Type of Fishing Pole (Rod) You'll Need
You will want to get a fishing pole that's at least 8.5 to 10 feet in length. The longer length helps to cast farther out into the surf. We prefer them to have a decent amount of flex so that you can feel the perch when they bite and are hooked.
Reel & Line
It’s also important to have the right size fishing line as well. We like using braided lines over monofilament lines due to their durability and smaller size. A 15 to 30-pound braided test line is preferred.
Rig and Hook
Once you’ve got your fishing line, you need to get your rig set up. The easiest way is to tie a swivel to your fishing line so that you can attach the rig.
We prefer to use a surf perch rig, also known as a Hi/Lo rig, double drop bottom rig, or a Pampano rig.
Our local hardware store carries them in their tackle section, but you can also find them on Amazon. Our goal is to maximize the time we get to fish, so we prefer to buy these rigs already pre-made and ready to go, but you could make them yourself.
Our recommendation is that the 2 leaders that come from the main line have metal or a nylon coating in them to help them not tangle up. Some of these rigs already have hooks attached, but some do not.
Find a smaller barbed hook that’s attached to a leader line that you can attach to the two leaders on the rig.
Once you have your hooks and rig set up, you will need to put a lead weight on the bottom of the rig. We typically use a 2 or 3-oz pyramid or coin sinker weight that we hook onto the swivel attached to the rig.
There are many shapes and sizes of lead sinker weights, so experiment with which one you like best. The purpose of the lead weight is to cast your line out far enough into the surf where the surf perch like to hang out.
You can change up the weight of the lead to get to the correct distance on where you need to be.
Last thing you'll need to do is to select your bait for the day and get it hooked up before your first cast.
The tried and true bait options for surf fishing are fresh razor clam necks, sand shrimp, and sea worms. Though you can use a variety of other bait options, we have tested and have had success with these.
We like to save the necks from razor clams and keep them in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and thaw when we're ready to use. We like to either dig our own live sand shrimp or purchase them from a store. Other clam guts will work as well to use as bait for perch.
You can experiment with other artificial options like this saltwater artificial shrimp that's made to look as real as you can get.
We like to use the Nautide app to find out when the best times to go fishing for the day are. Some days of the month are better than others using the solunar theory for fishing. Usually 2 hours before a high tide is when we end up having the most luck.
This will all depend on how your beach looks and what time of the year you go fishing. As their name suggests, surf perch hang out in the surf where the waves are crashing at the shore. This stirs up the food that they are looking to eat, which includes seaworms and sand shrimp.
When you look for a spot to fish, try to find a spot where the beach drops off a bit steeper or where a tide bar forms. You will want to be casting out towards wherever the waves are hitting the sand bar or the higher spot on the beach as this will have more crashing waves.
Since you will be fishing from the surf, the depth of the surf perch will be however far you can cast your line out. For us, this is usually only a couple of feet to maybe 5 feet, depending on the tide and how the beach looks under the water.
Bag limits can vary depending on the state you're fishing in, so be sure to check the regulations in your area before you head out.
We've found the best bait for perch to be fresh bait. Such as clams, sand shrimp, and sea worms. These tend to perform better than artificial when combined with best practices that we go over in this article.
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If you're anything like us, you have other fish in your freezer. Look through our full selection of fish recipes, or choose from some of our most popular options below. Enjoy!