West Coast Surf Perch Regulations

West Coast Surf Perch Regulations

surf perch regulations and limits

Surf perch can be found on the West coast all along the beautiful shores of California, Oregon, and Washington beaches. The surf zone is the most optimal place to fish because it’s where they feed on crustaceans such as sand crabs as well as other invertebrates that get tossed around under the waves.

Before catching these powerful little swimmers you’ll want to know the surf perch regulations in the state you’re fishing. You’d be surprised by the complexity and unique situations that can arise with this species of fish. Better safe than sorry! Here we go.


  • Surf perch fishing in California is open year-round with a 20 fish possession and total bag limit of any combination of all surf perch species (except for shiner perch).
  • There is a limit of ten fish for an individual perch species. In simple terms, you can keep twenty fish total with ten of one species and ten of another (once again shiner perch are the exception, which have a 20 fish bag and possession limit).
  • Redtail surf perch have a minimum size limit of ten and a half (10 1/2) inches in total length.


Finding Oregon’s surf perch regulations was a pain due to their Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website giving the run-around but I was finally able to locate the site eregulations.com, recommended by Oregon’s DFW. What I found was that all waters to fish for surf perch are open year-round, 24 hours a day unless stated otherwise, and all marine zones have a daily limit of 15 fish.


  • You can fish year-round for surf perch in Washington with a no minimum size limit and a daily possession and bag limit of twelve (only for Marine Areas 1-4), except for shiner perch where it’s a 15 bag limit.
  • Not all marine areas have the same bag limit. Marine Area 5, Sekiu and Pillar point has a 10 bag limit. Check out http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01818/wdfw01818.pdf to see the specific marine area regulations in Washington. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the regulations of each state because they can change. Even though the regulations and tips mentioned in this article are accurate there’s still a chance of change due to overfishing or natural causes.


Take caution during spawning season because surf perch are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live offspring. If you catch a female surf perch and plan on keeping it make sure to squeeze and release all offspring. If she gives birth in your possession each one of the babies will count towards your limit, potentially racking up a huge fine.

On a personal note it’s best to release pregnant perch to help keep the population steady and growing. You can easily tell when they are pregnant by their bloated stomachs. To double check, try squeezing the belly and see if any live offspring pop out. Be sure to release all babies back into the ocean as safely as possible.

Overall I recommend checking each states Department of Fish and Wildlife to learn more about specifies, marine locations, additional tips and more information on regulations. It’s all fun until you get a couple hundred dollar ticket for exceeding the possession, bag and size limits. Lastly, make sure to have your fishing license on you at all times.

Now that you have a good idea about the regulations it’s time to hit the beach and catch these delicious fish. What’s great about fishing for surf perch is that they can be caught in such shallow waters. With the right surf perch setup you are bound to real in a few to fillet later. If you’re a skilled angler or beginner you are guaranteed to have a blast. Keep in mind that high tide is the most optimal time to go.


  1. How long do you usually make the leader on your Carolina surf rig? Also you say size 6 to 8 hooks. I have a hard time getting any hook to show through. Can you do a demo of you putting a hammer grub on a number 6 hook? When I was young I used to catch fish like crazy, now that I’m old it seems like the fish are smarter than me.

    • My rule of thumb is usually shoulder length. People will go even longer sometimes but I’ve had my long leaders tangle a lot easier. The size 6-8 hooks should be perfect for your little Hammer grubs, just push the hook straight through the middle of the bait and push out just before the tail. If you have further questions please let me know!

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