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Best Surf Conditions to Catch Surfperch: Tips And Guide

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Surfperches are popular targets for anglers, though this isn’t as popular as some other fish species. Still, you can enjoy quite the adventure trying to catch one of these fish. What are the best conditions for catching surfperch?

For the most part, you will find the most success fishing for surfperch in low light conditions such as dawn, dusk, and overcast weather. These conditions coincide with the changing of the tides from high to low (or vice versa) or with incoming tides.

Fishing surfperch is also more successful before their mating season, which takes place in late fall/winter, and during their spawning stage in spring/early summer.

When it comes to catching surfperch, there are a lot of things to consider, such as the weather condition and conditions of the tides. By reading on, you can learn the best approaches to catching surfperch.

Everything You Need to Consider When Catching Surfperch.

Surfperch is a delicious fish, particularly the redtail surfperch, and one that can be difficult to catch. These tips will help you become a proficient surfperch angler.

What is The Best Surf Condition to Catch Surfperch?

For the most part, you will have the best luck finding surfperch in rough surf conditions.

However, in some cases, you may find some success in heavy surf conditions, but you won’t have much luck if the surf is too rough.

Why are waves good for surfperch fishing? That’s because their prey can be dislodged from hiding places, meaning that they can take advantage of this for feeding purposes.

There are several varieties of surfperch that you can find in areas such as estuaries, bays, and even along rocky shorelines.

It can be an excellent approach to keep your bait close to any structures like rocks or pilings, as this is an excellent spot to find surfperch. (ODFWOpens in a new tab.)

Having the right surf conditions is just one component of everything that you need to look at when you are catching surfperch.

You want to make the most successful of the fishing trip, take a look at the surf conditions before heading out.

When is The Best Time to Catch Surfperch?

The best time of dayOpens in a new tab. to catch surf perch is when the water is moving, either at dawn or dusk.

If you are an early bird, you should head out about an hour before dawn, and you can fish for surfperch until probably around 9 or 10 am. Especially when tides are moving during that time.

Some anglers believe this is the perfect time to be more successful at catching surfperch.

However, some anglers prefer evening fishing. Dusk is another ideal time of day for catching surfperch.

If you go out at dusk to fish, you should start setting up and fishing between 1 and 2 hours before sunset. This maybe your best shot for catching surfperch, depending on where you go fishing.

During the daytime, the beaches may be busy, which can cause the fish to get scared away. (Outdoor FederationOpens in a new tab.)

There are a few reasons why these are great times. One, surfperch tends to favor the low-light conditions.

This is because they get the best feeding opportunities when there is little light outside.

When the sun is bright, their prey tends to hide in the water deeper to stay safe from predators.

Dawn can be an ideal time for fishing for a few reasons. One reason is that you get to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise as you are fishing.

Another reason this is a great time to go fishing is that it allows you to get some time in and then get to enjoy the rest of the day doing whatever else you want or need to do.

In several cases, you may even find that this is a nice, quiet time to fish.

Dusk is another time of day where surfperch fishing is the best. You get to enjoy the sunset and the peace while trying to catch these fish.

Depending on your preferred surfperch fishing area, you may even find that this is the best time to fish in solitude. (Fishing Over ThereOpens in a new tab.)

You can decide which of these options you prefer when going on your fishing trips. If you are an early bird, you may benefit from a dawn fishing trip.

If you want to go fishing when it may not be as crowded, you can go later on in the day for a dusk fishing trip.

It all depends on your preference and what you can fit into your schedule that day.

Related topic:

What is The Best Tide to Catch Surfperch?

Tides have a significant impact on how successful you are when fishing.

Many anglers would say high tide is generally considered the best time to catch surfperch.

The reason for this is because when it’s high tide, you can get your cast out deeper into the water.

The best tide to catch surfperch is when the tide is moving. Right before high tide hits and around 2 hours after the fact is considered to be the most effective time for surfperch fishing.

Prior to high tide, you will want to get out to the area where you want to fish to start scouting out the best fishing spots.

The ocean leaves behind distinct clues that help you find the prime surfperch fishing spots.

What to look for? First, start looking for areas where you find a deep depression or hole where the surfperch could be hiding.

You should look for areas like beaches with steep slopes on them, sandy areas around jetties, areas where the shore cuts inward, and any rocky areas that you find in the sand.

Check this article where I put together all the things I’ve learned over the years on how to find the best spot for surf fishing.

These are popular spots for surfperch to be. This gives you an idea of the best areas to come back, increasing your chances of success when fishing for surfperch.

Remember that tides vary from day to day, but you can easily search the tide schedule for your fishing day.

Do a quick search on tide4fihsingOpens in a new tab. to ensure that you plan your trip properly around the tide that day.

What is the best water temperature to catch surfperch?

TemperatureOpens in a new tab. is extremely important when you are surf fishing.

If the water is too warm, the fish may move to another area to cool off, which will impact your success during your fishing trip.

They also avoid water that is too warm because the conditions aren’t as favorable for their feeding.

However, water can be too cold for fish as well.

The colder temperature can cause the fish to have a decreased appetite, as the cold weather disables their digestion enzymes, so food stays in their bodies longer.

This is bad because then the fish won’t want to take your bad, meaning that you won’t catch any fish.

What this implies for you as an angler is that there can be conditions that are too hot or too cold for fish. These are the conditions where you won’t want to go fishing.

What is the ideal temperature when surf fishing? It all depends on the type of fish that you are trying to catch.

Surfperch prefers to live in water that is between 42 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, they prefer it when the water is between 51 and 76.

It’s a good idea to always check the ideal temperature for your fish to ensure the highest level of success when surf fishing.

There are apps that you can find to determine the water temperature, but you often have to pay for these services.

Tide4fishingOpens in a new tab. is one of my favorite sites to use, they have a lot of information on their website that you can utilize for your surf fishing trip.

The great thing about having this kind of service is that you can find this information to determine if it’s worth it to fish in that spot or on that day.

You don’t want to spend your time and bait if the water temperature isn’t ideal for surfperch.

What to look for when catching surf perch?

As previously mentioned, there are signs that you can look for to be more successful in catching surfperch. Some of these signs that you can look for include:

  • Look for deep holes or depressions where fish can hide.
  • Look for long dips along the sand, which run parallel to the shore. These are known as “troughs.”
  • Sandy areas around jetties.
  • Rocky areas along the sand
  • Around areas that are steeply sloped shores, areas where the waves crash hard.
  • Areas of the shore where the shore cuts inward.
  • In places where two surfs end up coming together.

If you can’t notice any of these signs, that doesn’t mean that there are no surfperch in that fishing spot.

You can just try out the area by casting your weight out somewhere after the first or second wave breaker.

Guide And Tips to Catch Surfperch

In this section, we can take a look at the different tips and a how-to guideOpens in a new tab. to not just be successful at catching surf perch but also at surf fishing in general. You want to make the most of your experience.

Don’t Be Afraid to Explore

You don’t want to be stubborn when it comes to fishing. Just because you think a spot is a perfect spot, doesn’t mean that it necessarily is.

You want to look around, searching for the signs of surfperch that were previously discussed.

But even if you see the signs, you may not have any luck catching fish in that area.

Don’t be hesitant to search and try different areas to see if you get some more success.

Ask around if this is your first time at the fishing spot to see where the regulars like to go.

If you keep going back to the spot, remember where you found success during your previous trips.

This can be a pattern that you have a good spot.

Remember the Optimal Times for Catching Surfperch

You may get lucky and catch surfperchOpens in a new tab. during those “off hours” or “off-season” times, but you need to be sure that you know when these fish are more likely to be around.

The peak times, seasons, temperature, and tides can make a difference when it comes to how successful you are in catching surfperch.

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

There are two primary setups that you can find success with when surfperch fishing.

One approach is using the traditional surfcasting approach.

This approach uses a long, heavier rod with heavyweights and large arbor spinning wheels.

These can be great options because they offer a great casting range.

The problem is that these lack the sensitivity that you may want, and they can be incredibly cumbersome to handle or transport.

Other people prefer a different approach, which uses a fast action graphite pole that is mid-length, lightweight, and a medium-large arbor fishing reel.

This does give you the advantage of having better sensitivity so that you can more easily detect bites.

The problem is that you will get a much shorter casting range than the other approaches.

Which one will be the best one for you? It’s all based on your personal preference—some anglers like the feel of one approach over another.

If you try one approach and it doesn’t work for you, try another one.

Everyone’s style is different, so get a feel for the right approach based on your style.

Process of Catching Surfperch

There is a method that you can follow that will improve your chances of catching surfperch. This can be a relatively straightforward process, which includes:

  • Carefully check your bait to make sure that it is properly and securely affixed to your hook.
  • Make sure that you make a cast behind the sandbars.
  • You need to reel up the slack to feel the perch (and surf) better as it pulls on your setup.
  • Patiently wait for the fish to bite.
  • Move to another spot if no action, don’t spend too much time on one spot.

The process can be just this simple. It is advised that you make sure that your line is pretty tight, as this allows you to feel any bites better.

If this is your first time to catch surfperch, you may be tempted to reel in at the first pull that you feel.

But, this is likely just the surf pulling at your setup.

You will know when a surfperch bites as they are very aggressive feeders, so there will know question if they are biting.

You will notice the rod tip starting to pulsate or move back and forth. This is when you start reeling the catch in.

Are you not getting any bites? You can try moving your setup closer to the shore and try again for a little bit more.

If you are not attracting any fish, you should move around the shoreline, trying different spots until you find one where you can get the bites you want.

This is a moving school of fish, so you need to move around to find them.

You don’t want to sit in a spot because you scouted it out stubbornly, and it seemed perfect then.

Otherwise, you could be missing out on those catches you are looking for.

Choosing the Right Bait

One of the good things about surfperch is that it’s not a particularly picky fish when it comes to bait.

You should keep in mind that surfperch are aggressive feeders, so they can be rough on your bait.

What this means for you is that you have to make sure that you have properly secured the bait.

Otherwise, you will lose it and miss out on catching the fish.

So, what type of bait should you use? Here are some great bait options to consider:

  • Sand crabs
  • Sandworms
  • Clam necks
  • Squid
  • Sand shrimp
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Pile worms
  • Alternative
    • Gulp Artificial Sandworm
    • Big Hammer Perch Grub Bait (Motor Oil)
    • Lucky Craft Lures

These are just some of the popular bait that you can use. You can also find live bait around the fishing area.

However, you do need to be knowledgeable of any regulations against this before you do.

This can save you money or give you cheap bait if you happen to run out during your trip.

A variety of different types of baitOpens in a new tab. and lures that you can choose from will help increase your chances of catching surfperch.

By following these tips, you may find more success when you take your fishing adventure.

Everyone has their approach to surf perch fishingOpens in a new tab., so it can be a good idea to try a few different approaches out to find the best one for your style.


Surfperch fishing, especially Redtail surfperch, is an incredible adventure where you can potentially end up with quite the haul.

They are not only more effort to hunt, which can be more thrilling, surfperch can also be very delicious if you want some nice fresh fish.

If you live on the West Coast or plan to head that way, the tips found here will help you make the most of your surfperch fishing trip.

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Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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