Gorgeous sunsets, long sandy beaches and amazing rocky shores draw thousands of tourists every year to the coastlines of Washington and Oregon. Yet few people are aware that some of the best action-packed fishing in the area is only one cast away on the edge of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
The hot fishing action I am talking about is surf fishing for surfperch. This fishery is one of the most underutilized fishing opportunities in Washington and Oregon. These hard fighting, feisty fish are plentiful and easy to catch. They are delicious too!
Redtail surfperch are the most common species and average 1 to 2 pounds, with some reaching over 3 pounds. If you have plans to visit the coast this year, make sure to include some time for surf fishing.
Here is a quick list of 11 great beaches for outstanding surfperch fishing in Washington and Oregon:
- Rialto Beach
- Beach 4
- Cranberry Beach
- Cannon Beach
- South Beach
- Seal Rock
- Horsfall Beach
- Gold Beach
There are tons of amazing beaches along the coast that beckon anglers to make a cast. Below I have compiled a list of 11 beaches that that are tried-and-true surfperch honey holes that will leave you coming back for more.
For California anglers looking to take part in the action, you’ll definitely want to check out our list of top 5 surf fishing spots in Northern California and 5 more beaches to try in Southern California.
Washington State Beaches
Washington beaches are truly a wonder to behold. Wild and rugged beaches to the north offer secluded fishing and abundant wildlife, while the flat sand beaches to the south are great for family trips and tailgate barbecues by the water.
Surfperch fishing is open year-round when fishing from shore. Locations 1 through 6 below require a valid Washington State saltwater fishing license. For beaches within the Olympic National Park, check at a visitor center for current regulations, or find them online here. Gathering intertidal organisms for bait is prohibited within the park.
All other beaches outside the park in Washington are regulated by the department of fish and wildlife. Check out the fishing seasons and regulations page online for up-to-date seasons and limits.
1. Rialto Beach
Rialto beach has it all. Powerful surf, huge drift logs and offshore sea stacks provide plenty of views while you fish. This isolated beach is located 75 miles west of Port Angeles, Washington in Olympic National Park.
Getting here takes some time, but the beauty of the region makes it worthwhile and so does the fishing. Surfperch generally prefer sandy beaches, but they make an exception for this rocky stretch of coast. The strong breakers dig up plentiful food sources that cruising perch love to snack on. Redtail surfperch are well dispersed along this stretch and readily take a variety of baits.
North of Rialto lies miles of untamed coastline all within the park. Make the 3 mile round trip hike to Hole-in-the-Wall to fish another excellent surfperch beach.
Camping and lodging is available at the Mora campground, La Push and several local resorts along Mora Road off Hwy 110. For more lodging and recreational options, the nearby town of Forks offers a multitude of accommodations.
2. Beach 4
The second beach on this list also resides in the Olympic National Park boundary. Beach 4 is located just north of Kalaloch off the famous Hwy 101. Here, you will find plenty of paved parking and vault toilets. No running water is available. The trail down to the beach is steep but the hike is rewarded with stunning ocean vistas.
Beach 4 itself is steep and covered with small pebbles polished by relentless waves. Walk a ways to the south or north from where the trail hits the beach to find sandy stretches that hold schools of perch near shore.
Many spots along this beach have large rocky spots that snag a lot of gear. Pick out the sandy stretches between rocks and you’ll find pockets of feeding perch.
Be mindful of the tide. High tide makes it treacherous when making your way back to the trail.
Kalaloch Lodge and campground offers the nearest accommodations. If you plan on staying a while in this area, then you will surely visit the next beach on this list.
Kalaloch Beach is a popular summer destination and for good reason. Expansive flat sand beaches and abundant sea life makes for a great family getaway.
Surfperch fishing is generally considered better on steeper beaches where pounding waves dig up food in the sand. However, small rocky tide pools and ever changing tidal movements create pockets for fish to forage and rest. Finding likely spots that hold more fish may require frequent moves and a keen eye, but your efforts will be rewarded.
Early summer is an ideal time to target redtail surfperch that begin spawning along the sandy stretches of shore around Kalaloch. Surfperch fishing is open year-round in the park. Weekends in early spring also bring vast crowds of razor clam diggers to park beaches.
Kalaloch is the last beach on my list that is within the borders of Olympic National Park.
The Kalaloch campground and lodge fills up fast during the summer. Early reservations are recommended.
Miles of beach and nearby jetties await surfperch diehards by the small town of Westport, WA. Head west from Olympia for 70 miles to arrive at your fishing destination. Anglers also have the choice of hitting the beaches near Ocean Shores on the north side of the Chehalis River estuary.
The expanse of flat sand makes it more challenging to pin point the schools of surfperch here. Hit the beach at low tide to find large depressions and channels in the sand that harbor feeding fish once the breakers come in with the tide. Then come back and fish those spots at the top of high tide. If you are having trouble locating perch, keep moving and casting until you find them.
The beaches of Westport Light State Park are a good bet (Discover Pass required). Try fishing adjacent to the jetties. Besides surfperch, you may also reel in lingcod, sea bass and other species that call the ocean home. Fishing off the jetty is dangerous during rough weather. Be careful!
When the seas are rough, head to Half Moon Bay, which sits protected behind the jetty at the mouth of the estuary. When the schools of perch are here, fishing can be fast and furious for nice-sized keepers.
Cloudy skies and foggy wet weather are the norm at Westport and Ocean Shores beaches, even in the summer. Be prepared for chilly weather.
Camping is popular at Twin Harbor State Park and a variety of lodging can be found in town.
5. Cranberry Beach
Not far south of Westport is the small town of Grayland on Hwy 105. Blink and you miss it. For the savvy angler, keep your eyes open for Cranberry Beach Rd. The rough road will take you right to the sand and a popular spot for nice sized redtails.
Again, experience will help you learn to find pockets that hold schooling fish. The sands are ever changing from the relentless waves so move around and cast frequently. When you find the fish, they bite readily.
The options for lodging are more limited around this town, but Cranberry Beach is a short drive from Twin Harbors and Westport. Grayland Beach State Park also has camping available.
6. Long Beach
Long Beach is well known for exceptional fishing and hosts an annual surfperch fishing derby every May. A two hour drive west of Vancouver, Washington will bring you to this popular stretch of coastal water.
Pick a spot, any spot! Hit the season just right and perch can’t seem to stay away from any bait you throw. If you are having a hard time locating a good group of fish, make your way towards the rockier areas near Sea View where perch like to congregate. Bring extra gear along. Snagging in the rocks is a possibility.
If you plan to show up in May, take part in the annual surfperch derby to win big cash prizes. For more information about the derby location, rules and registration visit www.surfperchderby.com.
Numerous lodging options are available around the Long Beach and Ilwaco areas. Camp sites are also available at Cape Disappointment State Park by the North Head Lighthouse.
Oregon State Beaches
For scenic beauty, nothing beats the rocky Oregon coast. To top it off, world famous Hwy 101 gives you easy access to some of the most iconic stretches of ocean in America. If your summer road trip brings you to this area, make sure the surf fishing gear is along for the ride too. Some of the best beaches for surfperch are only a short walk from the road.
Thanks to the Oregon Beach Bill passed in 1967, there is ample public access to this gorgeous coastal region along 101. Surfperch anglers in Oregon will have unparalleled access to many miles of fishing prospects.
Oregon provides a year-round surfperch fishery and requires a valid Oregon Angling License. Some beach closures are in place to protect fragile sea life and the collection of unclassified marine life for bait is restricted. Gathering bait from tidal pools is also prohibited. Always check the updated fishing regulations before your trip.
Visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website for more information.
7. Cannon Beach
The first stop on our Oregon surfperch fishing journey brings us to Cannon Beach. A 90 minute scenic drive west of Portland is all it takes to get to this popular weekend getaway destination. Quaint town shops and family beach fun are the major draws to this area. For the angler targeting surfperch, competition is low and the fishing is fine.
The main beach near town is flat and produces a good number of smaller redtails. Check out nearby Seaside and Indian Beach at Ecola State Park to the north of Cannon Beach for more fishing options.
Beaches a little ways to the south are also good bets and the tourist crowds thin a bit. Just be aware, the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve is closed to fishing.
Fishing the beaches in and around Cannon Beach will yield high catch rates if you find the sand channels and holes that are created by cross currents and tidal movements. When the fishing seems slow, move to new spots often until you locate a school.
Spring and summer at Cannon Beach are beautiful but chilly weather still persists. Prepare for bad weather and enjoy the sunshine when it comes. Camping and lodging is available in, and around, Cannon Beach and Seaside.
8. South Beach
A two hour drive south of Cannon Beach on Hwy 101 transports you through more rugged ocean views until reaching the next spot on this list, South Beach.
Long expanses of sandy beaches are sure to provide an overwhelming number of fishing possibilities. Good places to start are the jetties on either side of the Yaquina Bay outlet. Go after surfperch on the beach adjacent to the jetties.
Other bottom fish are often caught along the rocks of the jetty, but snagging gear is common. Please be careful when fishing from jetties. Rogue waves during heavy storms can sweep you into the pounding surf.
South Beach State Park is ideal for camping. Over 250 camp sites provide beach access via short hiking trails. If camping is not your style, hotels and resorts abound in nearby Newport.
9. Seal Rock
Continue down 101 to Seal Rock for fantastic beaches studded with rock monoliths that jut from the crashing surf. Outstanding sightseeing is complemented well by the equally good fishing.
Spend some time fishing your way along the numerous pockets that hold plentiful surfperch here at Seal Rock. Exercise caution when casting among the rocky patches to avoid losing your gear. The northern portion of this rock strewn beach is a fair bet and my preferred starting point. Keep an eye on the tide and don’t get stranded on the rocks.
A few larger surfperch can be pulled from Little Creek Cove when the surf is calmer.
More beaches for fishing and additional overnight accommodations are found in the neighboring town of Bayshore. KOA camping is also available.
10. Horsfall Beach
Horsfall Beach has the big surfperch you’ve been looking for. Fish over 2 pounds are not uncommon with many smaller fish always willing to bite. This long stretch of straight, sandy beach lies west of Coos Bay and North Bend, Oregon.
It is hard to pick a bad spot at Horsfall. When the fish won’t bite, you are just in the wrong spot. Keep moving until you start hooking up. It shouldn’t take long to get on them. Calm high tide conditions makes for killer fishing. The jetty south of Horsfall is a good spot as well.
When you have limited out on surfperch, head to the vast sand dune beaches near Florence. ATV and dune buggy rentals are a blast for the adventurist types or tour the Sea Lion Caves which are a hit with kids.
Great fishing and unlimited family recreation make a visit to Horsfall Beach a mandatory stop along Hwy 101. Several state park campgrounds give you access to beaches and dunes between Florence and North Bend. The month of September generally has the most calm and sunny days during the summer season.
11. Gold Beach
The last stop on this list is Gold Beach, Oregon. Less than an hour north of the California border, Gold Beach is the warmest, and sunniest, beach on the list. The excellent surfperch fishing is icing on the cake.
Steeper sand beaches produce abundant populations of surfperch and some dandy redtails are definitely in the mix. The entire shoreline, from the jetty at the mouth of the Rogue River to the iconic Kissing Rock formation, is surf fishing heaven.
When the surfperch wear you out, I highly recommend a jet boat tour up the Rogue River. If the fishing was not exciting enough, the thrill of a 360 degree spin in a boat will surely quicken your pulse. Check out Jerry’s Rogue Jets for tickets.
Several inns and beachside resorts make for good overnight trips. Indian Creek Recreational Park on the south side of the Rogue provides limited camping.
If your destination is further south on Hwy 101, there are still many miles of surfperch paradise to be had before hitting the California border.
How do you fish for surfperch?
Want to find out everything you need to know about surfperch fishing? To get all my best tips, techniques and gear info, click this link to see my surf fishing how-to-guide.