Last modified: February 18, 2021

Fish Perch

Redtail Surfperch

Surfperches/Seaperches: Family Embiotocidae

Species: Amphistichus rhodoterus (Agassiz, 1854); from the Greek words amphi (double), stoichus (series, referring to the two rows of teeth in each jaw), and rhodoterus (rosy). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Amphistichinae.

Alternate Names: Redtail perch, rosy surf fish and porgy (or porgie).

Identification: Their coloring is silver with olive green mottling and bars on side; fins red with the caudal fin (their tail) pink to deep purple. The longest dorsal spines are longer than the dorsal soft-rays. More elongate than calico surfperch.

SizeTo 16 inches and 4 pounds; most caught from piers are under a foot. The California record fish weighed 3 Lbs 7 oz and was taken at Kellogg Beach, Del Norte Co. in 2012.

A redtail surfperch caught at the Paradise Beach Pier in San Francisco Bay by Mel

Range: Punta Baja, northern Baja California, to Kyuquot Channel, northwest Btitish Columbia. Common from northern California, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

HabitatSurf zone, shallow-water, sandy-shore, oceanfront areas; recorded to a depth of 24 feet. Although generally found in the open ocean, they enter sheltered estuaries and bays just before spawning in the spring and early summer. At such times, hundreds of fish may be concentrated in a fairly small area and it’s pretty easy for anglers to catch a limit.

Piers: Commonly caught at sandy-shore piers and bay piers north of Pacifica. Best bets: Pacifica Pier, Del Norte St. Pier (Eureka), and both the “B” Street Pier and Citizen’s Dock in Crescent City.

Shoreline: One of the main fish for sandy shore anglers in northern California anglers.

Boats: An inshore species but sometimes taken by boaters fishing Humboldt Bay.

My son MIke with a redtail surfperch in Humboldt County

Bait and Tackle: Use medium tackle, a large enough sinker to hold bottom, a high/low sinker, and hooks size 6 to 2. Best baits include live sand crabs (in the surf areas), fresh mussels, pile worms or bloodworms, and clams. North of Eureka, two favorite baits are tube worms (generally frozen) and crab backs.

Food Value: Mild-flavored flesh with small flakes and a soft texture. The flesh is white colored and low in fat content. Can be cooked in any manner but most commonly fried.

Comments: Redtail surfperch, along with barred surfperch and calico surfperch make up the trio of large surfperch that dominate action on the surf end of most California piers; all are fine sportfish and fine eating.

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