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Redtail surfperch record waits to be broken

hen I moved to Brookings 34 years ago from southern California, the biggest surfperch I had caught were the ubiquitous barred surfperch. Then I took a walk on the beach and saw what appeared to be humongous barred surfperch with red-tinged fins, the formidable redtail surfperch, and I instantly became an Oregon surfperch addict.

They go by many names. Some call them redtail surfperch while others call them pinkfin surfperch. But call them whatever you want, for some reason they have been schooling up in copious quantities in Gold Beach area beaches, and some of them have been monsters.

"Some of the big ones have been showing finally - almost 5 pounders!" said Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

Now just for fun, I decided to take a look at the I.G.F.A. (International Game Fish Association) world records. I do that on occasion when I want to find out exactly how many trophy fish people are eating, and as it turns out, Oregonians would rather eat one than stuff one.

But here's some food for thought.

There are hundreds of IGFA world record slots begging to be broken, and one of them just happens to be a redtail surfperch - and this one's a no-brainer trophy.

The current IGFA word record redtail surfperch is a 1.4 ouncer caught at Orick, California by Steven M. Wozniak back in 2013.

I know that at least 100 readers are saying to themselves that they've caught one bigger than that.

The fact is that a lot of people aren't trophy hunters. But with all the 2- to 3-pound redtails that are being caught, wouldn't you like to have your five minutes of fame? Steven's had his five minutes of fame for almost two years now.

All you have to do to break Steven's record is to have your catch witnessed and weighed on a certified scale, and of course properly identified with photographs galore.

Personally, if I were to submit a fish for a world record, I would have an ODFW biologist present at the weigh in.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw that one out there.

Be that as it may, the surfperch fishing has been red hot. I've seen multiple limits of both redtail and striped surfperch (another one begging to be broken) being filleted at the Brookings Harbor fillet station.

"I had one guy actually catch about 14 (redtails) in 15 minutes," said Carey.

Unlike southern California, where barred surfperch are anywhere you throw your line in the water, the Oregon varieties are a little more finicky.

They prefer steep, sloping beaches and places where a lot of feed enters the water, which explains why the mouth of Hunter Creek at Kissing Rock and places like that are so productive.

I like to scope out my redtails at low tide, looking for the dishes and mini-underwater pools, take a mental picture of them, and then come back on the incoming tide to cast in those exact places to clean up.

So if you find a steep, sloping beach, look for the high spots and make your casts there. And remember that you don't have to cast too far out to catch surfperch. They're right in the whitewater.

Come into the Rogue Outdoor Store and either Larry Cody or Jim Carey will steer you in the right direction to the local hot spots.

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for “On the Water” for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise.

On the Water in Oregon by Larry Ellis is posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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