Rubberlip Seaperch

Species: Rhacochilus toxotes; from the Greek words rhacochilus (rag lip) and toxotes (pertaining to the East Indian archer fish, because of a presumed resemblance).

Alternate Names: Buttermouth perch, porgee, sprat, or liverlip.

Identification: Typical perch-shape with a deep and heavy body. Their coloring is brown or brassy with thick, usually white or pink, lips.

Size: Rubberlip seaperch are the largest species of the surfperch/seaperch family; they reach 18.5 inches in length. Most caught off piers are under 13 inches long.

Range: Thurloe Head, Baja California to Russian Gulch Beach, Mendocino County. Most common in the Monterey Bay area.

Habitat: Shallow-water rocky areas, kelp beds and bays.

Piers: A primarily southern and central California perch, common at bay and oceanfront piers, at least those located near rocky areas, reefs or kelp beds. Best bets: Ocean Beach Pier, Paradise Cove Pier, Stearns Wharf, Goleta Pier, Monterey Wharf No. 2, Seacliff State Beach Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Sausalito Pier, and Fort Baker Pier.

Bait and Tackle: Rubberlip seaperch are usually taken on a high/low leader and size 6 or 4 hooks baited with fresh mussels, live sea worms or small pieces of shrimp. Those with the proper know how use plastic grubs and they are the ones who often bag the largest fish.

Food Value: Since they are one of the largest perch, specimens often contain quite a bit of meat. Although their flesh has a mild taste, most gourmets rate it only fair in taste. They are at their best during the non-spawning season and generally are pan fried in butter.

Comments: These are less common than black seaperch or white seaperch and will usually be the largest of the perch taken.