Surfperch might not be the most popular fish to catch, but they’re still tasty and crazy easy to catch if you know what you’re doing. Two of the biggest factors that determine whether you catch the perch limit or just a few are the tide and wind, so you need to know the perfect wind and tide conditions to avoid disappointing trips.
The best conditions to fish for surfperch are when it’s dark just before dawn, at dusk, or especially when it’s overcast. Anglers need to cast at high tide when the winds are strong. The wind will create large tide swells that bring out the perches’ prey, making them easy to find and catch.
Today’s guide will cover the perfect conditions that can maximize your catches for Perch from the surf, including weather, wind, swells, timing, and more, so keep reading to see what you might have been missing in previous attempts!
What are The Best Tide Swell Conditions for Surfperch?
Tide swell may be the most important factor in this guide, so we’ll make it first. Tide swell is just a fancy way of saying how big the waves are. If you are looking for the bar perch, you don’t want large swells because they prefer rolling water, not messy water.
The Redtails, on the other hand, will be waiting for waves that are powerful enough to disturb the shore because some of their favorite prey – the sea pigs – dig deep into the sand. Look for waves at least 2ft high for the best tumultuous conditions.
Sites such as Tideschart will provide you with updates and predictions on tidal swells and when high and low tides will be.
What are the Best Wind Conditions for Surfperch?
Surfperch are the varieties of fish that you should not fish for on calm days. It’s the winds that are fast and strong that create the 2ft. tidal swells that you want. While you do want high winds, you may also start experiencing strong side drift, such as from left to right.
As the wind picks up, the perches will look for pockets to hide in and sand to hide behind. Fish don’t want to tire themselves out, especially Perch, opportunistic hunters who prefer to strike when the time is right and avoid wasting their energy.
To do that, they look for spots where the current is softer and let the food come to them. This is when knowing how to read the surf and locating the favorite areas of surfperch is important for a bountiful trip, which we will go over in a later section.
What are the Best Times of Day to Fish For Perch
We’ve established that surfperch are easily caught during high tide or when the water is rolling. The times of the day to catch surfperch are when it’s dark, so either an hour before dawn or at dusk.
If you fish at dawn, you’ll be able to fish until about 9 or 10 am before it gets too bright, and the Perch’s prey heads for deeper, darker waters where the Perch can’t follow. If you’re a dusk fisherman, aim for 1-2 hours before sunset.
As you choose your preferred high tide time, you don’t want to arrive at your fishing spot during high tide. For the most potential in your fishing, arrive at your location about 2-3 hours before high tide. There are a few reasons behind this:
- During that time, you can read the surf for the best locations to cast as the tide finally comes in,
- It will give you plenty of time to set up your rig,
- And it will give you the longest fishing window.
What’s the Best Weather for Catching Surfperch?
Dawn and dusk aren’t the only times the day gets dark. Good perch fishing days also occur when the weather is completely overcast.
Besides keeping the Perch out longer, thanks to the fact the sun is hidden, overcast days will usually come with high winds. The most important factors are here, making these some of the best perch fishing days.
Do You Fish for Perch in High Tide or Low Tide?
Without question, whether it’s the redtail perch or bar perch you want, the best surfperch fishing comes at high tide. It does several useful things:
- Creates the feeding time for the Perch
- Simplifies where the Perch will be to a few specific locations
- Separates the bar perch from the red tail
High tide is the best for surfperch fishing because the wave breaks that naturally come with the high tide will dislodge vertebrates and invertebrates from the shore, making this the perches’ feeding time.
The idea is that the Perch will think your bait is just another snack that was displaced from the waves, and they won’t hesitate to clamp down on it. Redtail perches, in particular, love “messy” water, which means choppy waves. Bar perch, on the other hand, prefer calmer, rolling water. Both conditions can be found at high tide.
If you’re fishing for Redtails, you want to make sure you cast just behind the break. The bulk of the Perch will be farther out from the shore, maybe even 15ft. out. As they hunt, they’re going to follow the breaks and search along them to find food.
Does this mean there’s no perch during low tide? Not at all. You can still find Perch during low tide, just not nearly as many. If the tide starts to recede and you’re faced with low tide, you can try casting a few more times as far out as you can. If you don’t feel any bites, the Perch are gone, and you need to find a deeper spot or pack it up for the day.
Useful Surf Reading Tips for Surfperch
Reading the surf is one of a fisherman’s best practices. Going out in the light when the tide is low, maybe the day before you intend to fish will allow you to look for these key natural or man-made formations:
- Deep holes or depressions
- Sand bars
- Troughs – long dips in the sand that runs parallel to the shoreline
- Jetties with sandy areas
- Rocky areas along the sand
- Steep shores, where the waves crash the hardest
- Spots where the shore cuts into the sea, such as a pier.
Depressions, troughs, and sand bars are the most critical spots to find. These are the most common areas where schools of Perch will wait when the winds pick up.
Jetties, steep shores, and structures that cut into the sea, like piers, are areas where the waves will hit harder, stir up more food, and bring the Perch prey upward. The structures can also hide surfperch sometimes.
If the area you chose doesn’t have these formations and structures, you can still find Surfperch. Just look for the wave breaks or rolling waters and cast out.
A Final Word
Now that you know the best conditions for fishing surfperch, such as the redtail perch. In just a few hours of fishing, you might walk away with your daily limit and several days’ worth of good meals. Not all coastal states have length regulations for Surfperch, such as Washington and Oregon, but others do. California, for example, requires your Red Tail Surfperch to be 10.1/2” long to keep.