Surfperches: Family Embiotocidae
Species: Brachyistius frenatus (Gill, 1862); from the Greek words brachys (short) and istion (sail), and the Latin word frenatus (bridled). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.
Alternate Names: Brown seaperch, brown perch and kelp seaperch. In Mexico called mojarra sargacera or perca.
Identification: Typical perch shape. Kelp perch have a compressed body, long pointed snout, long dorsal fin spines and coloring that is generally golden-brown to reddish above and tan below. There is usually a pale stripe on the upper side and sometimes blue spotting.
Size: To 8 1/2 inches (.3 pounds) but most caught from piers are around 6 inches in length.
Range: Bahia Tortugas, central Baja California to near Sitka, southeastern Alska.
Habitat: Typically found in intertidal waters although recorded to a depth of 249 feet. Typically seen around offshore kelp beds but will move in around piers which have a heavy growth of kelp. Usually a kelp-canopy, dwelling species that likes to pick small invertebrates off of plants.
Kelp perch at the Cabrillo Mole in Avalon
Piers: Seen in late summer at piers with heavy kelp. Best bets: Cabrillo Mole in Avalon, Paradise Cove Pier, Goleta Pier, Gaviota Pier and the Spud Point Marina Pier (Bodega Bay).
Shoreline: Occasionally taken by shore anglers in central California.
Boats: A small, inshore species rarely taken from boats.
Bait and Tackle: Use light tackle with small number 8 or 6 hooks and a small piece of bloodworm, shrimp or mussel.
Food Value: Too small and pretty so throw ’em back.
Comments: A “cleaner fish” that often picks ectoparasites off the bodies of larger fish. Sounds yucky!