Walleye Surfperch
Photo courtesy of
Michael-Minds i Photography
PO Box 436
Philo, Ca. 95466

Species: Hyperprosopon argenteum; from the Greek root words hyper (above) and prosopon (face, from the upward direction of the face) and the Latin word argenteum (silvery).

Alternate Names: Silver perch, white perch and China pompano.

Identification: Typical perch shape. Identified by the tips of the pelvic fins being black and their very large eyes. Their coloring is silver with some duskiness on the back.

Size: To 12 inches; most caught off piers are under 10 inches. Fish caught in northern California tend to be larger than those caught in the south.

Range: From Point San Rosarito, Baja California to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Habitat: Shallow-water areas, near both sand and rocks. Common in both oceanfront areas (throughout the year) and in bays (primarily during the summer). Often found in dense schools consisting of several hundred fish.

Piers: Walleye are one of the main catches at almost any oceanfront pier in the state but larger concentrations seem to exist in the north. Best bets: Crystal Pier, Malibu Pier, Gaviota State Beach Pier, Pismo Beach Pier, the Morro Bay T-Piers, Pacifica Pier, Fort Point Pier, Candlestick Point State Park Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Fort Baker Pier, and the Commercial Street Dock in Eureka.

Bait and Tackle: Tackle can be kept light. Best bet is to rig a modified snag line, three or four size 8 hooks, each baited with a very small strip of anchovy and a 1/2-to 1-ounce sinker. Cast the rig out, let it sink to the bottom, then begin a slow retrieve; the walleye surfperch will often follow it from the bottom to mid-depth range and hit it on the way up. Many, many times I have seen anglers trying to catch these fish but failing simply because their bait or rigging was too large; walleyes have small mouths and will peck away at larger baits but not be hooked. Walleye will eat shrimp, mussels, worms, squid and pieces of fish, but small strips of anchovy have proven to be the main winner in my experiences. Some regulars also like to catch walleye using small crappie jigs and light tackle.

Food Value: Fair, although most of the fish are too small to have much meat available.

Comments: This fish ranks first numerically among the fish I have caught at California's piers. In the Depatement of Fish & Game studies, it ranked fourth among all pier-caught fish in southern California, and third among fish in central and northern California.