Calico Surfperch

Species: Amphistichus koelzi; from the Greek words amphi (double) and stoichos (series, referring to the two rows of teeth in each jaw) and Walter Koelz, a U.S. ichthyologist.

Alternate Names: Surf perch and porgie.

Identification: Their coloring is silvery, with olive-green mottling and bars on sides.

Size: To 12 inches; most caught off piers are are 9-11 inches.

Range: Arroyo San Isidro, Baja California to Shi Shi Beach, Washington.

Habitat: Shallow-water, sandy-shore areas.

Piers: Calico Surfperch are the number one surf area fish caught on central California piers north of Cayucos. In the Pismo Beach-Cayucos area, large numbers of both barred surfperch and calico surfperch are caught; more barred surfperch are landed, but the calico surfperch will be slightly larger in size. Best bets: Cayucos Pier, Avila Pier, San Simeon Pier, Seacliff State Beach Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, and Pacificia Pier.

Bait and Tackle: Bait and tackle is the same for all three of the large surfperch. Best bait is live sand crabs followed by live sea worms (pile worms or bloodworms); next would be fresh mussels, shrimp or clams. Tackle should be heavy enough to hold bottom in the surf area, and hooks should be size 6 to size 2, baited on a high/low leader.

Food Value: Reaches an edible size but like most other perch the flesh is only fair in taste. Generally pan fried in butter after coating.

Comments: Calico surfperch will often school right around the inshore pilings; at times, fishing right under the pier, as close to these pilings as possible, will yield the largest fish.