Barred Surfperch

Species: Amphistichus (from Greek words that mean a double series, concerning the two rows of teeth in each jaw) and argenteus (Latin silvery).

Alternate Names: Silver perch, barreds, or surfperch.

Identification: Barred surfperch are one of three large surfperch with bronze or brassy bars on the side. The lower jaw is slightly shorter than the upper jaw and the spiny dorsal fin is shorter than the rays in the soft dorsal. Their coloring is olive green to yellow green on the back, silvery below; they have vertical yellow or gold bars on the sides, generally with a few spots between the bars.

Size: Up to 17 inches and 4 1/2 pounds; most caught off piers are under 14 inches in length.

Range: From Playa Maria Bay, Baja California, to Bodega Bay.

Habitat: Shallow-water, sandy-shore areas.

Piers: Barred surfperch are common at almost all sandy-shore, oceanfront piers, north to the San Simeon Pier. Best bets would be at Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, Malibu Pier, Ventura Pier, Goleta Pier, Gaviota Pier, Pismo Beach Pier, Cayucos Pier and San Simeon Pier. Quite a few are also taken further north, especially at the Santa Cruz Wharf and at the Pacifica Pier.

Bait and Tackle: By far, the best bait for these perch is live sand crabs (which make up 90% of the diet of barred surfperch). Live sea worms, mussels and clams would be the next best baits but barreds are landed on just about every bait imaginable (and many regulars use nothing but rubber grubs). Light to medium tackle can be used depending on conditions. Since the best water to fish is found just outside the first set of breakers, most anglers use a pyramid sinker (with whatever size sinker is needed to hold the bait in place). Line can be 8-to 20-pound test. A high/low leader is most often used with size 6 to 2 hooks. Barred surfperch are caught year-round, but December-January are the best months in Southern California according to the California Fish & Game studies - studies that found the Oceanside area to be the top producer of fish.

Comments: There are three species of surfperch that are large and which are predominate in the inshore surf area: barred surfperch, calico surfperch and redtail surfperch. Barred surfperch are the number one surf-area fish caught on southern California piers. North of Morro Bay, calico surfperch starts to replace barred surfperch as the main inshore perch species; north of San Francisco, redtail surfperch replace the calico surfperch. Barred surfperch put up a spirited fight and are good eating.