Surfperch fish can be found all year-round along the west coast of North America, all the way from southern California up to Vancouver. They can be caught by fishing at the beach—or” surf fishing” as it’s called. Surf fishing presents a unique set of challenges compared to river and lake fishing.
You have to learn where to cast out your line in the ocean, all the while battling the tide. When done right, surf fishing can be very rewarding. You can catch more and bigger fish than you would in a river or lake.
One of these fish is the surfperch, which can weigh up to 2 pounds. If you’ve already mastered surf fishing, maybe it is time to take it up a notch by testing yourself in the darkness. But can you catch surfperch at night?
Yes, you can. In fact, once you get the hang of it, the darkness might make it easier to catch surfperch. Since there are fewer people at the beach at night—both fishing and swimming—the surfperch comes closer to the shore. The lack of predators at night, namely birds, also attracts the surfperch closer to the beach. Surfperches also stay in schools (groups) so that once you’ve found which trough they are in; you should be able to keep casting there to maximize your nighttime surf fishing experience.
Here’s how you can get the most when catching surfperch species at night:
How can you prepare to catch surfperch at night?
· Plan ahead
It is important to let someone know that you are going to surf fishing at night. This is a matter of your own safety. Make a plan of where you will be, what time you will be there, and how long you plan on staying.
Then, hand over this information to someone you trust. Make sure to let them know when you are done fishing as well or that they should check in on you at a certain hour.
If you can, find someone to go fishing with you. If you don’t know anyone, there are several Facebook groups and websites that bring people with common interests together.
· Scope the location
It will be pitch black at night, so familiarizing yourself with the location as much as possible in the day will be extremely useful in catching surfperch at night. You can pay attention to the feeding patterns of the fish in the day since you will be able to actually see them. This will give you an idea of where to try at night.
Researching the location at low tide will also give you an idea of where the troughs are. At low tide, these troughs will be depressions in the sand that you will be able to come back to at higher tide. In the dark, it will be hard to see where these depressions are and where the waves break.
Thus, any insight you can gain in the day will be useful. Take a map with you when you scout the area and mark the areas you can return to at night.
Watch the following video below for advice on where and when to cast your line when surf fishing:
· Weather conditions
Surfperch generally congregate within 30 feet of the shoreline. Surfperch can be found on almost every beach along the Pacific Coast. These two facts together generally mean that you don’t have to wade very far into the shore to catch one. However, it is still crucial to be aware of the tide and wind speed.
If the tide is too rough or it is raining heavily, it is probably best to postpone your surf fishing trip. Not only will you be putting your safety at risk, but you probably won’t have any success catching any surfperch.
The darkness will be your biggest challenge when trying to catch surfperch at night. The best way to catch surfperch at night is to let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Do not bother with any kind of flashlight if you don’t need it.
The bright light will likely scare the fish away. If you do need light, use a red light. It will be less harsh in the darkness and still allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness around you.
Use a headlight instead of a flashlight. Fishing requires both hands to be free. Fumbling with a flashlight could get you swept up in the tide or have you drop something into the ocean.
Similarly, you want to make sure you know where you’ve packed everything so you can pull out what you need when you need it. Take a look at the following video for more information on changing your lures and casting at night:
· Fishing license
This point is self-explanatory. Don’t forget to bring your license with you.
What are some tips for catching surfperch at night?
- Bait= Surfperches are not picky eaters. You can use mole crabs, marine worms, sand shrimp, mussels, clam necks, or even plastic bait worms.
- Rod= You are going to want a long rod so that you can cast further while keeping the line above water.
- Reel= Saltwater causes the metal to rust much faster, so investing in a corrosion-resistant reel will extend its life.
- Stay warm and dry = Depending on the season and your own comfort level, you can choose to wear a wet suit, fishing waders, or even simply high rain boots.
- Water protection
Furthermore, whether you use a plastic bag or a special waterproof case, you want to keep your cellphone safe from any water damage.
· Keep it clean
Don’t leave anything on the shore when you go, but also make sure to keep it organized while you fish. The last thing you don’t want is to step on lures, hooks, and bait. You also don’t want them to get washed away by the ocean, so make sure to leave your pack far enough up the beach.
· When to catch surfperch
While surfperches are around all year, the best time to fish for them is spring and early summer. The best time of the day to surffish for surfperch is an hour or two before or after high tide. However, this time frame can be larger, depending on the tide conditions on any given day.
What are the regulations for catching surfperch at night?
In California, surfperch fishing season is open all year. The limit is 20 fish total with a maximum of 10 fish for any given species. The rules for surf fishing at night are no different than during the day. The most common type of surfperch is barred perch and redtail.
The females are easily caught in the early summer months as they remain close to the shores to give birth. If you’re looking to try your head at catching surfperch at night, the mating season might be a perfect time. The amount of surfperch along the shore is high, and you don’t have to wade too far deep in the darkness.