I can feel it! Spring is approaching, the smell of migration is in the air, and the bluebird days are becoming more frequent. The striped bass are still being caught down here in Monterey Bay, but you’re going to need to pay your dues and cover water for these “washouts.” Last weekend the annual Sand Crab Classic perch tournament took place in Santa Cruz.
This is a great event that raises money for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project whose mission is to recover the native salmon and steelhead population in the Monterey Bay region. With 300 participants only a small percentage are fly anglers, but it still puts up a great challenge and a fun competition among the local surf fly fishers. In a perch tournament, it’s really anyone’s game, and that’s what makes it so fun.
You have miles of beaches to fish which all have populations of surf perch, and the difference between placing in the top 3 and coming in last is within a few inches. Well, this year my fish just happened to have the extra inch needed to take home 1st. I caught many fish in the 9-12” range all morning but knew I needed bigger to place. Finally a nice 15” hit my self tied “Trench bomb” fly and gave me hope that I’d be in the running. Low tide was at first light so we were fishing the incoming from 6am-noon. I could tell right away that the fish were drawn out and still settled on the back shelf so long casts counted! Most my fish were hooked at 60-80ft out until about 9:30 when the tide pushed up and filled in the closer holes. I let my heavy shooting head sit with tension from the wave and worked it as slow as the waves allowed, yet still remaining in contact with the fly, this was the key to getting a bite!
I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with the surf fishing community, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Hope to see some of you at next years event, we’ll see you on the beach! Evan Praskin Owner/Operator