Ultra Lite Tackle for Red Tail Surf Perch
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Ultra Lite Tackle for Red Tail Surf Perch
I decided to try a new adventure. Surf fishing for Red Tail surf perch with light tackle. One of my fishing buddies Randy has been exploring this surf fishing and invited me to have fun during our off-season for salmon.

The Red Tail surf perch is the largest of the three popular species caught on our coast. You have the striped sea perch, the Pile perch and then the largest the Red Tail sea perch. Their fins have a reddish hue to them. They can reach 17 inches and commonly weigh 2-3 pound though larger specimens have been caught around 4 pounds.
Fishing piers or docks for perch is the safe way but the most exciting way is wading in the surf for the Red Tail surf perch.

Surf fishing for Red tails range from California all the way up to Canada on the west coast. Often in California to Washington state heavy tackle is used in the large surf. Twenty pound test line and 3-5 ounces of weight. Often the cast is as far as possible with two hooks of the main line and then just leave it out there till you get a bite.

Randy had landed 18 surf perch using light tackle the other day on the West Coast of Vancouver Island at Florencia Bay near Tofino. I will be using a slip weight of 3/8 oz. sliding on ten-pound main line. Very similar to a California rig when bass fishing. There will be a bead above the swivel to protect the knot and then 2-3 feet leader with a #4 or #2 hook. Since it is shallow water I will experiment with a float also - similar to steelheading, allowing the weight to bounce along the bottom while keep the majority of the fishing line out of the water.

Due to the high surf and wind on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Tofino area we will be using our River Creek Rod Seacrest 13-foot ultra light rods 4-10 pound line class. The long rod will be able to keep allot of the line above the surf. That is the challenge to keep up to the slack line that is caused by the surf and maintain a slow retrieve. This is also why we are using mono line instead of braid. Braided line is not as effective under the twisting of the spool of a spinning reel if you canít retrieve the braided line tight onto the spool. Your mono light line will be challenged also through all the abrasion with the sand milling around. Bring some spare line with you.

The ultra light reels will be the Shimano Stradic Aero 2000, nine ounces and 4000 eleven ounces in weight. They allow large amount of line on the extended spools while maintain a small size.


The best fishing is in the surf as all the natural feed like sand shrimps, sand worms, sand crabs, clam necks are exposed. It also gives them great cover and they will come in with the waves and often be within 20 feet. Soft imitation like the gulp sand worm works great. They are opportunist so little minnows, spinners, anything moving and wiggling or have a scent they will go after. It doesnít have to be big often soft imitation worm are to long. We will break them into pieces 2 inches.

I will experiment with Ghost shrimps. Using the same set up with the fine wire holding the main body to the hook and line. It's the same as we do for steelheading.

Like all types of beach fishing the first step is to observe the surf. You are looking for slope sandy bottoms, troughs or holes. Often the indication will be areas were the wave surf doesnít occur or break. You will be able to observe the size and determine if itís a deep hole or a long trough. All of the natural food stirred up by the surf will settle in these areas and thatís were you will find the perch. You will also want to observe the currents. Which direction the water is moving. Your cast should be opposite the current. If the water is moving to your left then you will cast to your right and allow the weight to settle on the bottom while picking up the slack. Reel in at a speed to keep the line taught but enough retrieve to allow the weight to bounce along the bottom.

With saltwater fishing, the fish are effected by tides changes and itís often best one hour before and one hour after a tide change. The weather conditions also effect success as the wind and surf has to be manageable for fishing.

Always wear a chest or waist belt with your waders. Safety is of utmost importance.

We had a fantastic day at Florencia Bay. With the float method and ghost shrimps I had over 40 on landing 28. Randy was using the California rig with a Grub curly tail and had the same success. Largest was 3 1/4 pound.

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