Surf Perch Fishing at Pismo Beach: Birthday Trip!

Surf Perch Fishing at Pismo Beach: Birthday Trip!

pismo surf perch

What a surprise! My girlfriend Alaine treated me out to a Pismo Beach surf perch fishing trip for my 23rd birthday. We had to swing by Splash Cafe for their award-winning clam chowder before the trip, of course! After a hearty meal we finally decided to check into our room at the Kon Tiki Inn and were absolutely amazed by the oceanside view they offered. For once, a place looked exactly like the advertisements if not better.

If you ever swing by Pismo be sure to stay here and get a glimpse of this!

pismo beach kon tiki inn


Okay back to the most important part – fishing. Our third-story room allowed me to scope out the beach before heading down so I looked for “holes” and riptides in the surf. This basically meant any iteration in the breakers such as an area where the waves seemed to break less or where two waves clash together, stirring up sand crabs and other organisms for the perch to feed on.

The tide chart revealed that dead low tide was around 3PM and high tide peaked at around 7:15PM. We started fishing incoming tide around 4PM so I was able to see the bottom structure of the beach more easily since the tide was still very low. We planned our spots and headed down to our little slice of paradise!


I had just purchased a Lamiglas X-11 8’6” ¼-1oz. rod since my old Fenwick HMX 8’6” was a bit too light for my preference. However, Alaine prefers a lighter setup so she put the Fenwick to some good use!

I always use a Carolina Rig when perch fishing. Here’s a breakdown of the terminal tackle:

  • 15lb PowerPro Spectra Braid (Bumped down from 30lb and I love it!)
  • 1oz. Egg Sinker
  • Small Plastic Trout Bead
  • Size 7 Snap Swivel
  • Size 7 Barrel Swivel
  • 18” 10lb Fluorocarbon Leader
  • Size 6-8 Baitholder hook
  • Gulp Sandworms Camo 2.5”

Simply cast the rig out and reel in slack line after hitting bottom. You can then start a slow, steady retrieve or use the drag & stop method. Both work just fine.


Since it was low tide I had to bomb the rig out as far as I could, and within minutes I got hit at the end of my cast. The fight felt a bit funny until I realized I caught a jacksmelt the size of my arm. I had quite a few more jacksmelt before I began believing that I would only catch these damn things the entire trip.

After an hour or two the tide really started kicking in. It went from hitting my calf to almost going over my waist so we backed up a bit (I didn’t have waders unfortunately). I stuck a few more smelt and then Alaine shouted at me and her rod was absolutely pegged. She fought the fish rather calmly because she thought it was another smelt until we realized it was a surf perch almost 3lbs! With a huge smile we tossed it in the bag and went straight back out to the spot, only to see Alaine’s rod pegged again and again on enormous slabs. Each fish we landed had to be at least 1.5lbs if not close to 2lbs. I stuck the rod between my legs to help Alaine with her perch and my rod took off as well! Another slab for the box.

After getting back to the hotel I realized that she caught more fish because she was casting much closer. My casts were almost double hers and by the time I got to the “sweet spot” where she was I thought it was too close so I reeled it in. I sure got schooled that day! Never been happier.

Overall this was an awesome weekend getaway. The beautiful hotel room and enormous fish had us wishing we could stay another week, but it’s back to school and work. I’m definitely making this an annual birthday trip for sure!


  1. Glad you guys had fun! Belated happy birthday and thanks for posting your adventure at Pismo! Hope we can get out there soon to fish for these giant perch.

  2. Sounds like a crazy fun time ! That’s clutch that you could scout the beach from your hotel room!

    • Thanks a bunch bro! I have yet to ride ATV’s down there.. been too addicted to the fishing hahaha. I just threw a standard Carolina Rig with the Berkley Gulp Sand Worm and they nailed it!

Comments are closed.