Surf Fishing For Perch: Rigs, Rods & Reels


Surf Fishing For Perch
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If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast and haven’t been surf fishing you’re really missing out. It’s one of my favorite types of fishing and in this post, I’m going to be talking about how to fish for surfperch and what gear you’ll want to use.

As long as you’re in the right spot, you could probably just throw on a hook and some meat and catch something. Having the right gear and tackle will help you out though so I’m going to be going over everything you need to get started.

We’ll be talking about what rod and reel I’d recommend, what fishing line to use, how to find the right spots, what’s the best bait, and how to actually fish for perch. Continue reading or watch the video below for the full details on how to fish for surfperch.

When To Fish For Surfperch

Even though it’s possible to catch surfperch year-round, the best time of the year to fish for them would be spring and summer. This is when they spawn so they’re going to be the most active in these months. Winter isn’t usually the best but I’m sure you could still pull something out.

The best time to fish for surfperch is going to be around high tide (you can still catch them at low or mid-tide though). If you can go out a couple of hours before high tide until a couple of hours after, you should have no issues landing a bunch of fish. It’ll be even better if high tide is at dusk or dawn (this is usually when they feed and are the most aggressive).

Where To Find Surfperch

There are a number of different species of perch swimming around but in my area, we mainly have redtail. I don’t really know what you’ll find on the east coast of North America but I’m sure there’s something similar. Surfperch fishing is good from the coast of California all the way up to the west coast of Vancouver Island (where I’ve caught them).

The main area you’re going to find them is at a beach with moving waves (the waves will turn up the sand and expose food). Anywhere you could potentially surf at is normally a good spot to try. If you can find a beach like that with a pier, pilings, or any sort of structure in the water, that’s the ideal spot you’ll want to be.

You’re generally going to find surfperch within 30 feet of the shore (around the surf zone) and they’ll most likely be in the deeper holes between the breaking waves. Here’s a post on how to find good beach fishing spots. Perch will be schooled up in these holes because the waves will pull small crabs and other food into them as the waves go out.

How To Find Good Fishing Spots Near You

If you’re fishing a spot and don’t get a bite within 5-10 minutes then you should probably move a little way down the beach and try there. It’s not always easy to find the fish, but when you do, you’ll have a hard time keeping them off the hook.

What Gear Should You Use

Like I said before, you could use pretty much anything to catch perch and other smaller fish but if you have the right gear it’ll make things a lot easier. You’ll catch more perch, you’ll have fewer problems, and you might even catch something bigger.

Let’s start with the fishing rod and reel. The rod you’re going to want to use will be a fast action rod with a spinning reel. You can use whatever size you want but I’d recommend you use something between 9-10 feet long. It’ll be easy to learn on and it’s also good for other types of fishing.

If you want a cheaper combo then you can check out the Okuma Ceymar and the Ugly Stik Elite (see the ones I use). The 9-foot medium-heavy should work well. The size of the reel will depend on the type of fish you’re after. I like a 5000+ reel personally.

The next thing we’ll talk about is what fishing line to use. For pretty much every type of fishing I do, I like to use braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. I do the exact same thing for surf fishing. I’ll toss on a 30 lb braid and then use a 20 lb fluorocarbon as my leader (about 3 feet). I like braid because it’ll cast farther and it’ll also last longer. Fluorocarbon is good because it’s invisible to the fish.

Now we have to set everything up. The first thing you’re going to want to do is put a sliding weight clip on your braided line. Here are some from Amazon. That’s where you’ll be clipping on a 1-3 oz weight (depending on how deep you need to go). After that, you’ll attach a swivel and then you’ll tie on your leader (3 feet).

The final thing you need to do is attach your hook. I’ll normally use a 2, 3, or 4/0 hook and it’ll all depend on whether or not I want to catch bigger fish too. If I’m just after perch I’ll use the 2/0 but if I might catch something bigger I’ll use a 4/0.

How To Fish For Surfperch

The first thing you’ll have to do is figure out what type of bait you’ll be using. There are a number of different things to pick from but I like using soft-shelled crab, shrimp, or worms. I prefer these over artificial lures/bait but you’ll have to spend more time rigging your line. The choice is really up to you. Just think about what they’re already eating.

If you look at the picture above, you’ll see a spot that has a deeper hole and then two sandbars. Perch are most likely going to be sitting in those deeper pools. When the waves go out, they’ll stir up the sand and pull all types of food into those pockets. You want to imitate that as best as you can.

So, what I like doing is casting on the edge of the sandbar and then dragging my line into those pockets. That’s exactly what the perch are used to and it’s what I’ve had the best results with. You can let your hook sit in those pockets and wait for something to bite. If nothing bites for 5-10 minutes, change the spot you’re in. It’s as simple as that.

Happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm Jon and welcome to Backcountry Cariboo. I'm not a fishing or outdoors "expert" but I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and my goal is to educate, entertain, and promote the outdoor lifestyle.

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