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How to Catch Surf Perch in Southern California - Fishing in California

Updated on August 27, 2014

Surf Perch

Surf perch are a small sized abundant fish that can be taken from the shorelines of Southern California beaches. They are fun to catch and a great way to enjoy a day of fishing at the beach. Surf perch are also a great fish for kids to catch.

Light Tackle for Surf Perch

The tackle required to catch surf perch is simple light tackle. We use 8' to 9' spinning rods and reels, but you can use larger casting rods as well. For those of you just starting out and fishing for the first time you can get away with a $15 Walmart special combo rod and reel. (Serious anglers will get mad at me for saying that, but it's the truth).

The set up is very simple. We use what is referred to as a Carolina rig. For those who are starting out, the Carolina rig is a simple set up. Here is what we use:

  1. Fishing line - 8lb test.
  2. Sinker (1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce)
  3. Plastic or glass bead
  4. Swivel
  5. Hook (Number 4)
  6. Bait

For bait we use Gulp saltwater night crawlers. You can also dig sand crabs out of the sand.

I like to use a #4 barbed hook. You can also get away with a #6.

Fishing Surf Perch Summary

  • Light spinning rod and reel
  • Carolina rig
  • Gulp saltwater worms or sand crabs
  • Fish in shallow waters with holes and troughs

Surf Perch Fishing Techniques

Surf perch swim up to the sand in pursuit of sand worms and sand crabs. Anywhere that you can find sand crabs or worms on the beach, you can catch perch. They are usually caught right where the surf hits the sand. We have been able to catch them in even 4" of water.

Our method is to find an area where there are troughs or holes in the water that provide a channel for the perch to find food that bounces on and off the beach. We cast our lines right into the middle of the trough or hole and use one of two methods depending on how the water is moving:

  1. We cast, pick up the line slack, and let the sinker and bait bounce around while picking up the slack; or
  2. We cast and use a slow retrieve all the way up the beach (remember you can catch them in just a few inches of water).

Once you find them, keep fishing the same spot. They are usually in schools and hang around in the same spot. It is not uncommon to catch a half dozen surf perch in a row.

Ask a Surf Perch Fishing Question or Leave a Comment Below

Where is your favorite surf perch fishing spot?

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