Join us: Friday, Nov 10, 2023, 5:30pm-7pm
Location: Central Coast Kayaks - 1879 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Here is your chance to learn about Surf Perch fishing from some experts.
This is a donation event for Heroes On The Water, Central Coast Chapter.
Vince from Battlestar Tackle and Edward from Hook2Cook will be here to share their tips, tricks, and strategies to hook up Perch in the surf.
Feel free to contact us with any questions 805-773-3500
Central Coast Kayaks, Pismo, CA
Thank you for attending the Surf Perch Clinic at Central Coast Kayaks, on 11/10/23.
Here is a summary of information to help you catch more surf perch. To clarify, when we say "Surf Perch" we are generally talking about the Barred Surf Perch (Amphistichus argenteus). There are some other species of perch in the surf, but Barred Surf Perch are the most common surf perch caught south of Humboldt. "The barred surfperch is a species of surfperch native to inshore waters from northern California, United States to southern Baja California, Mexico. This species can reach a length of over 17 inches, though most do not exceed 12 inches. The maximum recorded weight is 4.4lb" - Wikipedia
PERCH FISHING GEAR & TACKLE
The following are some recommended choices.
Here are some rods we recommend for Surf Perch fishing. These rods are good for perch fishing for a few reasons. They are rated for weights between 3/8oz-2oz which means you can cast a lightweight jerkbait (5/8oz-3/4oz) or the heavier Carolina rig (typically 1oz-2oz). These rods are nice and long, so they tend to cast really far. One tip here is, that 9' is long enough to cast a bait nice and far, yet short enough that when your line accidentally gets wrapped around the tip of your rod, you can reach the rod tip to untangle it, without dunking your reel. These rod tips also bend easily when a fish is hooked and that helps to keep perch "pinned", so they don't "spit the hook" or "pop off" and get away. The soft rod tip is also important when fighting Striped Bass which is a common by-catch when targetting surf perch.
Okuma Hawiian Custom, 9' or 10'7" or 12"~$120- $140
Okuma SST 9' Medium ~ $80-100
Phenix Trifecta Lite. (Rated up to only 3/4oz but great for casting jerkbaits) ~ $200
Any 4000 series spinning reel that can tolerate exposure to saltwater will work. The 4000-size reels hold enough line to cast very far, in case the perch are far out. They typically hold about 200 yards of 30lb braid. These reels are still pretty light weight so you can cast and crank for many hours without wearing out your arms.
Not all reels are created equally. Some reels are heavier, some lighter, some larger or smaller, some more or less tolerant to salt water exposure, and some are smoother than others. Compare the specs to decide which reel has the features you are looking for. But keep in mind, what you read on paper won't tell you how that reel will actually "feel" or perform when fishing. So we would like to recommend some reels for you to consider.
Quantum Reliance 3500
If you're looking for a budget reel in the $100 range, check out the Quantum Reliance 3500. These reels are larger than other reels, so the 3500 size is about the same size as a 4000 Daiwa reel. The Quantum Reliance 4000 is too big and heavy for long hours of casting in my opinion, but some people use it. It might even be the best reel when using a bait & wait fishing style, because you may want to have a lot of line, in case you hook a Bat Ray or big Leopard Shark. Quantum advertises that this reel is "super durable". "The water-resistant sealing and maintenance-free design protect the reel’s bearings, gears, and other critical components from water, corrosion, sand, and wear". Although they advertise that this reel is "sealed", in my experience these reels have not lasted as long between seizing and needed services, as some Daiwa and Shimano reels which are "not sealed". Also, I find that this reel is not as "tight" and "smooth" as a Daiwa or Shimano so it is not nearly as pleasant to use. But what it lacks in luxury, it makes up for in cost, and also comes with a pretty great 5 year warranty. Typically, when I mail this reel out for service, it either comes back in working order, or they send me a brand new one. Although the service centers are contracted out to private companies, which means the work is not done "in-house", so the quality of the service tends to vary. And I have waited many months to get my reel back.
Daiwa Fuego LT-4000-DC
If you're looking for a value reel in the $100 range, this can be a great choice. They are very light and smooth, and really a pleasure to fish with. They also feature a "Mag-Seal" (magnetic grease seal) to help make the reel more salt-water resistant. The downside to this reel is that it features a reverse toggle switch on the bottom, which is typically where salt water gets in and begins to cause problems. One other complaint is that the drag is so quiet (typical of many Daiwa models), that I often cannot hear it, which makes it difficult to know when a fish is taking drag. I wish the drag was louder. Daiwa, can you hear me?
Daiwa MQ 4000
For a more sturdy and water-resistant model, check out the Daiwa MQ reels. Consider the Saltist 4000-MQ or Ballistic 4000-MQ. The Saltist is slightly heavier and faster, while the Ballistic has a bit slower retrieve, but also weighs less. These run in the $200 range. By the way, I only trust the factory service center to service my Daiwas and Shimanos, and they always come back like new.
Shimano Vanford C5000XG
This reel is the same size as their 4000 model, however, it features a deeper spool so it holds more line, which comes in handy for long casting, or if you happen to snag a big leopard shark or bat ray. This reel is very lightweight, even lighter than most 4000-series reels. With a 6.2:1 gear ratio, it is fast picking up 40" of line per crank. This is really helpful for perch fishing because our retrieve rate is typically on the fast side. These cost about $250. Personally, this is my favorite reel, and it is my choice for Surf Perch fishing on sandy beaches. It does have some quirks but I feel they are worth dealing with. If your reel starts making a dry squealing/grinding sound when retrieving, put a drop of grease in the roller bearing on the bail guide. The screw here tends to come loose and get salt water inside. Easy to fix.
If you're the kind of person who wants to pull your reel apart and service it yourself, check out the Penn line of reels. These are considered the easiest to work on. With Penn, you get what you pay for. The cheaper end reels like the Pursuit iii ($50) or the Fierce will need to be serviced very frequently to keep it operating. The more expensive models are smoother, lighter, and more resistant. Penn users tend to be very loyal to the brand.
In surf fishing a standard go-to is 30lb braid. It's thin enough that your 4000 series reel can hold many yards for those long-distance casts. It's strong enough that no fish can break it. Even casting a 2oz egg weight over and over for hours and hours will not break it. If your bail accidentally closes mid-cast, 20# braid may break. 30# will not. 30lb braid is also a good choice for fishing jerkbaits for Striped Bass, or swimbaits for Halibut and Rock Fish on rocky beaches. So if you spool up with 30# braid, you'll be ready to use the same reel for any kind of surf fishing. This system is lightweight enough that you can cast and crank for many hours without wearing out your arms.
For perch fishing, you can certainly use a lighter-weight braided line if you want to. 20# braid or 15# braid will work. Lighter line is thinner, so you can use a smaller spool, which means you can use a lighter-weight reel for casting and cranking those long sessions while searching for perch. But again, the 4000 series size reels are a great balance for most people.
Rigs & Tackle
There are a few popular rigs used for Surf Perch fishing. We will do our best to detail them below.
Bait And Wait Perch Rig
A common bait rig used for perch fishing is to first tie on a swivel, then to that, a 4-foot line of 30lb mono, then a snap swivel to a 3oz or 4oz pyramid weight. Then tie a 3-foot leader to the top swivel, and add a bait hook. Then on the bottom snap-swivel, tie another 3-foot leader with another bait hook. This rig is often used with sandcrabs, or Berkley Gulp 2" Sandworms. Whip. that bait out where you think there may be fish, and then wait for a bite. Some guys hold the rod in their hand, while others use a rod holder, and maybe get two rods going at the same time. This rig involves using some heavy weight to prevent it from drifting in the current, so if you're gonna sling this rig, be sure your rod is up to the task.
In San Luis Obispo County, we typically use a 1oz-2oz egg weight. I generally prefer a 1.5oz because I like to do a fast retrieve when I fish perch grubs (we'll cover more info on this retrieve technique later), and the extra weight helps to keep it low, dragging on the bottom. 2oz is heavy and takes a toll on my body after a few hours of casting and cranking at high speed. 1.5oz works really well, and it's still light enough that I can usually fish long hours. Another point is, the more weight you use the less you will feel the fish bite and fight. Heavyweight tends to dampen sensitivity. Any swivel will do as long as it spins freely and is not seized from sand or rust. For a leader, we generally use 10#-20# flourocarbon or monofilament about 4 feet long. Traditionally, people use a size #2 or smaller #4 hook, but recently locals in San Luis Obispo have been using a special size #3 hook. They say it's the perfect size for Perch fishing. I don't think this is very critical, however. It is important that the hook is SHARP! This tends to make a big difference in hooksets. Do not reuse the same hook twice. After you fish with a hook, throw it away and use a brand new one every time. Or you could try to hone the hook yourself if you want to re-use it. Just make sure the hook is sharp! The hook should be a straight shank worm hook. I avoid hooks that have a bend at the eye, or a twisted (offset) hook tip because I don't want anything that may cause the bait to spin/spiral, because this can twist and foul the leader. So it is really important to insert the hook into the bait, straight down the middle, so the bait sits nice and straight on the hook. You want no bends or kinks in the soft plastic bait so that way it swims through the water straight, without spinning/spirling. This will help prevent your Carolina Rig leader from getting twisted up. Bait holder barbs can help hold the bait on the hook. Take a look at the Gamakatsu Re-Barb hook in Size #4 or #2. This is a really good hook. I've also had good results using Owner EBI hooks. We also use super glue to attach the bait to the hook. This is important because otherwise, the perch can easily pull the soft plastic bait down the hook, and that pops the fish off the hook. Then you reel up a fouled bait on a hook, (and often a twisted leader) instead of a fish. Another tip is to pull the nose of your bait up all the way over the eye of your hook and the knot. This tends to help hold the bait in place on the hook. But super-glue is really the best trick of all. When I use super glue, I can often catch close to my limit of perch on a single soft plastic grub. Without Super-Glue, it's common to burn through an entire pack of grubs in one session and lose a ton of fish in the process.
For bait, we typically use a 2" soft plastic paddle tail or curl tail grub. The go-to color is Motor Oil Red Flake, and this seems to work well, as long as the water is not too murky. If the water is on the murky side, then we often try a Dark Blurple color, which tends to contrast with the color of sand so it is more visible. Another popular choice is the Berkley Gulp 2" Sandworms, Camo color. And of course, you can also use bait like Sand Crabs, Mussels, Clams, or Shrimp on a Carolina Rig. Just keep in mind if the bait is not perfectly symmetrical, there's a chance it may spiral/spin and twist up the leader if you do a fast retrieve. So if you want to use asymmetrical bait and fish slower speeds, then I think you should consider using a bait rig instead.
Tip: As your soft plastic swims through the water, the weight of the hook will point the hook downward. If you want your soft plastic to swim right-side up, rig the hook tip to come out of the bottom side of the bait.
A shallow diving jerkbait like the Battlestar 115 Jerkbait, Calissa 110, or Lucky Craft 110 are often used for catching perch in the surf zone when the fish are close enough, within casting range for these lighter-weight lures. The fish like to get in close when wave size allows. There's no magic to fishing these. We like to use a 3-foot leader of 30lb or at least 20lb monofilament or fluorocarbon, because this tends to help prevent the lures hooks from getting fouled on the main line, and it's easier to untangle from the treble hooks than braid is. The leader also provides a bit of stretch which is nice when fighting fish. Jerkbaits only weigh about 5/8oz or 3/4oz so you'll want to use a rod that is suitable for casting these. You can also consider using small spoons or metal jigs for perch fishing. They cast well and have been proven to catch perch. Some people also enjoy tying their own flies, like Sand Crab, Shrimp, and Clouser patterns. This is really fun, and it's rewarding to catch fish on a bait you created yourself. Flies work well on a Carolina rig and you don't have to worry about any problems that the soft plastic poses. Just make sure you tie a fly that will swim straight through the water without spiraling.
PERCH FISHING CONDITIONS
Perch aren't that picky.. There's no "magic combination" of conditions that guarantee you will catch perch. It's more about conditions being fishable. As long as the wind isn't blowing too hard to cast and the waves are a safe size; beyond that, it's just a matter of finding the perch.
Waves in the 1'-3' height are ideal. When the waves are timed closer together like 8 seconds (this is called wind swell) then the waves tend to carry less power which means you can fish in larger wave heights. When waves are timed longer, like 15-20 seconds apart (this is called ground swell), they tend to carry a lot more power, so we need to be more careful. A helpful tool is found on Surf-Forecast.com which actually provides a "Wave Energy" forecast. Wave energy is determined by comparing the wave weight and the wave timing. Anything between 100-400 wave energy is ideal for perch fishing. When wave energy is under 100, fishermen say the big perch are often not feeding in the surf zone as much, so if the ocean looks flat and calm that might be a bad sign. But, I have seen some really hot bites on flat days too. Anything over 400 and it may become dangerous to fish. Don't get me wrong, I have fished wave energy as high as 1000 before. But you've got to be careful!
Tides & Times
Typically, when perch fishing, we look for peak tides and incoming tides, and we like to see these things align with sunrise and sunset. It's been said, that the best tide to fish is from two hours before high tide, until two hours after high tide. It's also been said that slack sides (windows around the Low-High tide and the High-Low tide) are also a great time to catch Surf Perch. But, I have seen really hot bites at peak low tide, and throughout incoming tides, and even during outgoing tides. I have also noticed that there tends to be a blitz of feeding, about 2 hours before sunset, and this same thing often happens in the late morning about two hours after sunrise. I don't know if it's the angle of the sunlight entering the water or what causes this, but I have witnessed it consistently on many occasions, so I've come to the opinion that fishing this window around sunrise/sunset is even more important than zeroing in on any specific tide. Morning and Evening perch bites have both been very productive, but sometimes the best way to dodge heavy wind is to fish early, and finish fishing before 11am.
You'll want to check the Wind Forecast just to make sure there is no major wind event predicted. As long as I see wind is under MPH, I'll probably go fishing. To check the wind forecast I like to use the Windy App on my phone. You can also access the same app at Windy.com.
The main problem with fishing in the wind is that it's uncomfortable. Most jerkbaits are finicky when it comes to wind, and cannot be used even in light wind. The Battlestar 115 is different however, I have fished it in wind as heavy as 15 mph and it was casting a good distance and we were catching fish. It handles wind really well for the same reason that is is the longest casting of the Jerkbaits; aerodynamics. Casting these lightweight lures in the wind can result in wind knots, so it requires a little skilled technique. Usually tho, if it's windy, we cut off the jerkbait and tie on a Carolina Rig with a small plastic bait. These rigs cast really well through the wind. With a 1oz, or 1.5oz, or 2oz egg weight, you'll be able to cast through the wind and get lots of distance. It's also easier to control, so you're less likely to get wind knots.
Unlike most other species we catch from shore, Surf Perch seem to be active all year long, when the water is warm and when it is cold. I do not bother checking water temps to determine if I should go Surf Perch fishing or not. But it's still nice to know what kind of water temps you will wading in. For this, I use the Surf Line app. Just search for the name of your beach, and you will see the real-time water temp.
Cloud cover is not necessary for Perch Fishing. I have experienced too many hot bites under clear blue skies to know that clouds and fog are not necessary. Two points I'll make though. Edward Tomilloso has taught me that when it's bright and sunny outside, and the water is clear, he tends to avoid using the really shiney color patterns (ie. Battlestar 115, Blue Sardine, or Green Sardine), and instead uses a flatter/muted color, for example the Battlestar 115, Glow White Sardine. And when it's cloudy over head, then he does use the shiney color patterns. One more thing worth noting is that when it's a cloudy overcast day, there will be less people on the beach, and this can be really nice if you are in the mood for some solitude.
Like many experience surf fishermen, I like to make the distinction between "clean water" and "clear water".
Dirty vs. Clean Water
Dirty water means that there is loose bits of seaweed in the water. Sometimes they are floating, sometimes suspending, and sometimes the weed has sunken to the bottom and collected in large swaths. Thankfully, the west-facing sandy beaches typically have a lot less lose seaweed floating around, than the reefy, rocky, vegetated beaches. Still, since we are not typically fishing weedless on the sandy beaches, it only takes a little bit if seaweed to foul our baits. If you're fishing a jerkbait with treble hooks, it's likely you'll start picking up that seaweed, and it will foul your lure. So if you start seaweed on every cast, it may be time to cut off the jerkbait and switch over to the Carolina Rig. Carolina rigs only feature one small hook, so they tend to navigate dirty water more successfully. This is usually the best move. If you are doing a bait-and-wait approach, then dirty water will be an even bigger problem, because it catches on your line and causes your line to drift with the seaweed in the current. So if that happens, consider tying on a Carolina Rig and try the cast and crank method. If the water is too dirty for a Carolina Rig, then it might be best to move locations. Often the water is only dirty on one stretch of beach, and if you move down the beach, you might find the water is perfectly clean.
Clear Water - Clear water is just that. It lacks color, and has high visibility. This is prefered for Surf Perch fishing. When clear water is deep enough, it will often appear blue, especially when viewed from a distance.
Stained Water - Stained water is transparent, but it features a color like red or green, and as a result, the visibility may be reduced. If I see this, I am inclined to wind up and keep walking or searching for clear water.
Murky Water - Murky water is usually either the result of rain washing silt and organic matter out of rivers into the surf zone (this takes days to clear up), or it’s caused by huge powerful waves churning things up and suspending opaque particles of sand in the water, which will quickly settle into clear water in the protected pockets and tide pools. This is another helpful distinction because, after rain, the brown murky water washing off hillsides, farms, and out of river mouths is often not worth fishing in. May as well go home and wait a few days for the murky water to clear up. But if it’s cloudy from large waves churning up sand, then it may look brown and cloudy all around you but if you look closer you may notice that it’s a sort of mixture of clear water and cloudy/sandy water. It’s just clouded up with sand. Sand is a larger denser particle than silt, and it clears up much faster, so it may be perfectly clear out a little deeper where you are casting, and this tends to be really good for fishing! If you see brown cloudy water, check to see if it appears to be churned-up sand with any signs of clarity mixed in, if so, keep fishing! But if the water is totally opaque like chocolate milk after a rain then I wouldn’t bother casting. This tends to happen more in winter and spring when it rains and usually takes at least a few days to clear up.
STRUCTURE & STRATEGY
Let's discuss the life cycle of Surf Perch, and the kind of structure you may expect to find Surf Perch in at different times of the year.
Identifying structure will be the most important factor in successfully locating schools of Barred Surf Perch. Just as in any other kind of surf fishing, we are often looking for where deep water meets shallow water. In other words, a massive shallow sand bar that suddenly drops off into a deep cut. Find the biggest example of this on the entire stretch of beach, and you'll probably get into a lot of big Barred Surf Perch just as soon as they come through.
Perch stay in large schools. I have noticed that they can stay in the same hole and feed there for minutes or hours, and then they can suddenly vanish. The theory is that they move when a large predator comes through and spooks them out. Maybe the arrival of seals, sharks, or striped bass causes the perch to pick up and move from one hole to another. Or maybe when the tide gets too low for them to stay there, or high enough for them to move into the next more advantageous hole. So the game of Surf Perch fishing is a game of trying to figure out where they are at any given time. If you find the school, you will likely catch a lot of them very quickly. It's not uncommon to catch fish on every cast, or get multiple bites on the same cast. Essentially, what you are looking for is an area where a large shallow sandbar (like a shallow section of beach where you can wade in shallow water) meets a deep feature, like a trough, or a cut. Look for the most prominent drop-off you can find. Search miles and miles of beach at low tide to find the very best examples, and then focus your time in these places. You can circuit fish these spots. If you don't get bites in one spot after 15 or 20 minutes, then move to the next prominent structure point. Some of these spots are going to produce better in a minus tide, or mid-tide, or high tide. So you'll need to spend some time at your spots, and fish them in various tides, to learn how they work and when they produce. Keep in mind, the sand gets moved around, so sand structure is going to change from day to day, especially if we have a high surf event. So you'll need to scout the sandy beaches again and again, to see what structure has developed or been destroyed recently. As long as you have consistent moderate waves, your favorite spots might maintain their structure and continue to hold fish.
SURF PERCH ANNUAL LIFE CYCLE AND MIGRATORY PATTERNS
During the winter months, the adult Barred Surf Perch move to deeper waters. For example, in San Luis Obispo, our southernmost beaches are steeper and deeper. The Perch prefer this in winter because the ocean is colder and rougher during this time, making it less favorable for them to stay on the shallow beaches. In the winter, target large sized Barred Surf Perch on your steeper deeper beaches. They stay in these deeper waters until the spring, or any time moderate waves will allow them to move back onto the shallower beaches to feed.
In the spring, as the ocean temperatures start to rise and the weather becomes milder, the adult Surf Perch begin to migrate back towards the shallowest beaches. They do this because the conditions near the beach become more suitable for spawning as well as feeding. This is why more perch are typically caught on the shallow beaches of Pismo in the summer months. To me, it makes sense that the pregnant females would want to pop out all of their babies in the shallowest, hardest-to-reach troughs, to protect the babies from being easily accessed by predators. The shallow beaches tend to feature networks of shallow troughs with smaller cuts, and in some cases even large isolated holes that are walled off by sandbars on all sides. A perfect baby Surf Perch nursery.
Something I have noticed is that here in south San Luis Obispo, regardless of the season, you can always find big perch on the steeper deeper beaches in the south. Unlike the shallower beaches of Pismo on the north end of this range, which tend to produce better during the spring/summer season than they do in the winter.
PERCH FISHING RETRIEVE, HOOKSET, & LANDING TECHNIQUES
Take a close look at the mouth of a Barred Surf Perch, and all the different places where hooks can penetrate the mouth. The top and bottom of the mouth are thick and tough. If you hook them here, then the hookset will be solid and will not tear out. But take a look at the sides of the fish's mouth, and you'll see there are some parts of the mouth where the skin is very thin. If the fish is hooked here, the flesh can easily tear, and you can lose the fish. Also, sometimes perch are just "barely hooked" in a tiny amount of flesh which can break if you pull too hard. When you hook a perch, you never know if it's hooked solid, or barely hooked. So we always assume every fish is barely hooked and handle it very carefully. The key is to maintain constant light pressure. We can accomplish this a few ways. First of all, we use the soft, slow-action rod, so it bends easily and absorbs head shakes. These rods "give" easier, and are more forgiving. Another trick is to keep your drag turned down extremely low, just high enough to get the hook set. So if the fish goes on a "run" the drag will give line and prevent too much pressure. Finally, it comes down to technique. You want your hand to give just the same way as a soft rod tip or light drag. So when the fish goes on a "run", stop reeling and extend your arm a bit to "follow" the fish. This is one of the funnest parts of perch fishing. Because it requires such a light touch, such finesse, and you know fish might pop up at any second. So when you hook the biggest perch of the day, and you feel the power of that fish, it can create some anxiety and uncertainty, combined with desire and determination. I often find myself saying "Please stay on, please stay on, please stay on." That's when I know I'm having a really great time out there.
Here is a really great tip. When you go perch fishing, if you do a slow retrieve, you'll notice that you get a lot of tiny little taps, and very few hooksets. I had this problem a lot when I first started perch fishing. You see, Perch have amazing speed and accuracy, so when they find a bed of sandcrabs, they often take care to peck the orange row (sand crab eggs) right out from under the tail of the crab, without ever putting the whole bait in their mouth. I don't have enough experience fishing with Sand Crabs to provide any advice on that, but I do have a lot of experience fishing with small plastics, so I want to share how this translates. Oftentimes, when fishing with small plastics the perch will bite the tail of the bait. Sometimes this happens on every cast, and it can be really annoying. If it's a small paddle-tail they tear the tail off. If it's a small curl tail grub, they often break off the curl tail. It's so annoying and such a waste of soft plastic baits, that I have decided to stop changing the bait when my tail gets torn off. As a result, I learned that the perch don't care if your bait has tail action or not. I catch just as many perch on grubs that have no tail. I even caught my personal best 16" Barred Surf Perch on a FlipFlop'NSocks 2" Paddle Tail, Blurple.... you guessed, with no tail on the bait. When it comes down to it, the perch see something that looks like it might not be seaweed, and it might be food, so they give it a bite. So here is the helpful tip I want to share with you: try using a fast retrieve. When the perch see a small plastic bait moving through the water quickly, they instinctively chase it, and when it's moving quickly enough, they will often suck up the entire bait into their mouth, instead of just nibbling on the tail. Also, since your bait is already moving at a fast speed when they suck it up, they get hooked instantly. I have way better luck getting good hooksets with this fast retrieve technique. Give it a try and see for yourself. Once you switch to a fast-enough-retrieve, suddenly you may start getting hooksets on every cast. Here's the "catch" though. If you are going to keep your bait moving that quickly through the water, you have to make sure the bait is swimming straight through the water without any spinning/spiraling, otherwise, you will likely end up with a twisted, fouled leader. So it's realy important that you insert your hook perfectly straight through the bait so the bait sits nice and straight and symmetrical on the hook.
You can check to see if your bait is spiraling or swimming straight. Just let about 3 feet of line out, and then run it through the water in front of you. Sometimes I spin in a circle around and around as I watch to see if my bait is swimming straight. Sometimes it takes a sharp eye to see this. But it's really helpful. If I see my bait spinning through the water, then I will re-rig it. I don't want to cast that bait out there only to bring in a twisted leader.
In spring and summer months, when we catch large Surf Perch, we often notice their bellies are full. Sometimes baby perch start popping out of the fish before we can release them. You can help conserve our Surf Perch populations by releasing pregnant females. Also, one of the best ways to take good care of these fish is to keep them in or over the water. If you bring them out of the water up onto the beach and lay them on the sand, there is more potential for injury and lost offspring. If you're not gonna keep the fish, then there's no reason to drag it up on the beach. You can stay in the same spot, just pop the hook out and let it swim away.
PERCH FISHING RESOURCES
Windy App or Windy.com
If you use the app, or log in on the website, you can set your "settings" to read wind in MPH, and water temps in F, etc. So I recommend you create a free account and stay logged in so you can enjoy your favorite settings.
Surf Line app
Just search for the name of your beach, and you will see the water temp.