Calico Surfperch

Calico Surfperch

Calico Surfperch
Photo cred: California Department of Fish and Wildlife


Amphistichus Koelzi (Hubbs, 1933); also known as Calico surfperch are Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) – Perciformes (Perch-like) and apart of the Embiotocidae (surfperches) family. The name derives from the greek words amphi (double) and stoichos (series, meaning the two rows of teeth in each jaw) and Walter Koelz, a United States ichthyologist.


Calico surfperch speciesMid-sized with silver and olive-green mottling and bars on their sides. The lower head and anterior part of the body is tinged with red. They can grow up to 12 inches but are 8-11 inches on average with bodies that are elongated and compressed. They have Dorsal spines (total) 9 – 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 24-28; Rear spines: 3; Rear soft rays: 26 – 32.


Canada (Southern), Mexico (Northern), United States (California, Oregon, Washington). Primarily along the Pacific Coast but does not reach the southern borders of Mexico. They are most prominently found along many beaches in the Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Pismo areas. Other hot spots include Cayucos, San Simeon, and the Avila Pier.

habitat areas for calico surfperch
Calico Surfperch are found along the Pacific Coast of the United States (California, Oregon, Washington).


Calico surfperch are demersal species and can be found in the surf zone off sandy beaches but also dwell around depths of up to 30 feet. They can also be found around pier pilings, jetties, and other sandy areas in shallow waters. Making them an easy fish to catch due to being able to catch them from the shore or pier.


Primarily crustaceans, and other benthic invertebrates. In other words, they eat small crabs, shrimp, sand crabs and worms.

Bait & Tackle

The best bait to use is live soft-shelled sand crabs, mussels, sea worms (bloodworms or pile worms), shrimp, and clams. The fresher the bait the better. If you prefer artificials you can easily target them with Berkley Gulp 2.5″ Sandworms or small curly-tail grubs in Motor Oil/Pumpkinseed colors. Use size 6-8 Baitholder hooks on a Carolina Rig/Dropper Loop Rig with about 1-2oz. of weight to keep it from drifting in strong current.

Use and Trade

Fished commercially and for sport on a minor scale.


Calico surfperch females are viviparpous, meaning they carry the developing of the young. Which are born alive unlike your conventional birth from eggs.

Fun Facts!

You can distinguish a Calico from a Redtail by its freckles on the sides without distinct bars.


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Just a beginner angler who enjoys sharing information about fishing and hopes to inspire others to give it a try. When Quinton isn't fishing he's trying out new craft beers and taking trips to the beach.