Surfperches/Seaperches: Family Embiotocidae
Alternate Names: Silver perch. In Mexico called mojarra aletimanchada or perca.
Identification: Although similar to both the walleye surfperch and silver surfperch, the spotfin surfperch is identified by the large black spots in the dorsal and anal fins. Their coloring is a silver body with a dusky back.
Size: To 6 inches; most caught from piers are near this size.
Range: Bahia Blanca, central Baja California to Seal Rock, Oregon.
Habitat: Shallow-water, sandy-shore areas.
Piers: Although relatively rare at southern and northern California piers they do show up along the central coast. At the Pacifica Pier they will often be mixed in with schools of walleye and silver surfperch. A few are taken at piers located near the entrance to San Francisco Bay, especially the Fort Baker and Fort Point Piers. Best bet: Pacifica Pier.
Shoreline: An occasional catch by sandy shore anglers in central Californnia.
Boats: An inshore species rarely taken by boaters.
Bait and Tackle: Spotfin are often taken incidentally by anglers pursuing the larger walleye and silver surfperch. Although some anglers save the fish for pan-frying, most are really too small, in my opinion, to keep. Anglers wanting to catch the fish should try size 8 or 6 hooks baited with small pieces of pile worms or a very small strip of anchovy. However, most are probably taken by anglers using Sabiki/Lucky Lura-type bait riggings and light tackle.
Food Value: Really too small to eat so throw them back.
Comments: This is an attractive little fish that should be returned to the water unless the angler desires to use it as bait for larger fish.