Pier Fishing in California

Resources :: California Fish

Calico Surfperch

Calico Surfperch


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.


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


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


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


Shallow-water, sandy-shore areas.


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.


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.