From isolated beaches among towering redwood trees to popular vacation beaches near the city of San Francisco, Northern California has something for everyone. Especially for anglers looking to experience the thrill of surfperch fishing.
That’s right! Swimming within a single cast of sandy beaches are abundant surfperch just waiting to be caught. These spunky fish are easy to catch and fight hard. To top it off, they are also some of the finest tasting fish around.
Redtail, barred and calico surfperch are the most common species you’ll catch in Northern and Central California. Don’t be surprised to catch several 1 to 2 pounders with some even reaching 3 pounds.
Here is a quick peak at 5 of the best surfperch fishing destinations in Northern California:
- Kellogg Road Beach
- Enderts Beach
- Gold Bluffs Beach
- Gualala Point Regional Park Beach
- Bodega Dunes Beach
Whether you are on a week long road trip along the coast or just out for the weekend, grab your fishing rod and make a cast at one of the 5 beautiful beaches on this list. I can all but guarantee you’ll be back for more.
For those thinking of heading further south, take a look at our list of best surf fishing beaches in Southern California.
1. Kellogg Road Beach
For anglers who seek solitude, look no further. Kellogg Road Beach is a surf fishing paradise 8 miles north of Crescent City, California. You can gain access to this long expanse of sand via Kellogg Rd by Tolowa Dunes State Park.
There is more than enough room to share among your fellow anglers but more than likely, you’ll have the surfperch to yourself. A parking area is available at the end of the road. Restrooms and running water are not available.
Driving on the beach is allowed north of Kellogg Rd only. 4 wheel drive is recommended. Walk-in only access is to the south and anglers willing to get a bit of exercise will find isolated pockets that hold large schools of perch.
The beach itself is relatively flat and finding surfperch within casting distance means finding deeper troughs in the sand where cruising fish stop to feed on aquatic life that’s been stirred up by crashing waves. Keep trying new spots and eventually you will strike gold.
Kellogg Road Beach is a great spot for a family getaway and miles of beach offer endless opportunities for beach combing and exploration. Lodging is readily available in Crescent City and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is a popular place for camping.
2. Enderts Beach
Enderts Beach is a hidden gem seldom fished and mostly visited by passing tourists who go no further than the Crescent Beach Overlook. The intrepid anglers who descend the bluffs on a half mile trail will find an isolated beach with tide pools and deep pockets loaded with surfperch.
The beach is only 10 miles South of Crescent City and is a great alternate surf fishing spot after Kellogg Road Beach. Drive down Enderts Beach Rd to a small parking lot just off Highway 101. The trail passes a small walk-in campground that is closed due to vandalism but still has picnic tables for a lunch break.
At the end of the trail you’ll find a sandy beach lined by drift wood and interspersed with rocky tide pools. A small picturesque creek flowing from the bluffs marks the trail’s end and the start of prime fishing.
The fishing is challenging among the rocks but larger than average perch are often caught since the tide pools provide plenty of food for these hungry fish. Use light tackle setups like the Carolina rig using a half ounce weight. This will help you avoid snagging bottom. A gulp sand worm usually gets fish to strike. Try casting along edges of visible rocks in the surf but be prepared to loose some gear due to snagging.
As you explore fishing spots along this beach keep an eye on the tide. The beach gets narrow in spots at high tide and rough surf makes some spots impassible.
For overnight visits, camping at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is excellent. Lodging in Crescent City or Klamath is within a short drive of several other beaches in addition to Enderts Beach.
3. Gold Bluffs Beach
Moving on down the California coast brings us to Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. With miles of trails, wildlife viewing and the famous Fern Canyon stealing all the attention, this remote beach rarely gets the fishing pressure it deserves.
Access to the beach is via a primitive 8 mile gravel road. Bring some patience on crowded weekends as vehicles squeeze along the narrow one lane road. Large vehicles and trailers are prohibited and a fee is required for entrance.
Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll find frequent pull offs to stop and explore. Even with the crowds you can expect plenty of space to yourself. Focus your fishing efforts on steeper parts of the beach that allow you to easily cast past the first set of shoreline waves. You’ll often find fish stacked up between breaking waves in the calm troughs.
If you don’t catch anything in one spot, stay mobile. Schools of redtail surfperch are constantly cruising the shoreline in search of a feast. When you find them, the action heats up fast and when the bite stops, move spots to chase them down again.
Along this stretch of coast camping is abundant but advanced reservations are advised during busy summer months. It doesn’t get any better for anglers than Gold Bluffs Beach Campground. Snag one of these spots and you can almost make a cast from your tent.
Picnic areas and restrooms are found at the campground and the Fern Canyon trailhead. Bring a jacket too as cool morning fog frequents these Northern California beaches, even in the summer. More comfortable lodging is found in Klamath or Orick.
4. Gualala Point Regional Park Beach
If you can only choose one beach to target surfperch, make it Gualala Point Beach. This Sonoma County beach is popular with local day hikers, beachcombers and whale watchers yet is seldom crowded.
The estuary formed by the Gualala River supports abundant sea life and fine surf fishing opportunities. You might catch more than surfperch here. The beach is moderately steep and during a calm surf, deeper water is readily reached by a short cast.
Time your visit with an incoming tide that will stir up food and get the feeding frenzy going. The south part of the beach near the point is a good place to start. Work your way north along Pirates Cove, casting as you walk. Weed beds and small dispersed rocky spots hold fish.
Getting to the best fishing spots entails a short 0.6 mile walk from the Gualala Point Bluff trailhead. Ample parking, restrooms and other amenities are available. A small day use fee is required.
Adventurous anglers should go for a walk along the Bluff trail as it traverses the edge of the Pacific for several miles. Along the way, you’ll get a chance to fish small remote beaches that are rarely fished for surfperch. There is bound to be a hidden honey hole waiting for discovery.
Gualala Point Regional Park offers a small beautiful riverside campground with 19 spots. Restrooms and showers make for a comfortable stay for the whole family. The town of Gualala also has hotels with stunning ocean views.
5. Bodega Dunes Beach
Still haven’t had your fill of surf fishing yet? Then don’t miss miles of superb fishing along the sandy shores of Bodega Dunes Beach. Our last entry on this list provides some of the best surfperch fishing north of San Francisco.
This long flat beach is at first overwhelming to surfperch anglers looking for any hint that schools of fish are at hand. But cunning anglers with a keen eye can pick out fishy spots. It helps to visit the beach at low tide to find depressions and troughs in the sand that will hold fish when the water rises again. Mark good spots with a GPS.
Walk south on the beach toward South Salmon Creek Beach if you’re looking to get away from the crowd. Stop where the beach abuts Mussel Point. Top notch fishing action occurs here when the conditions are right. However, it is a long walk but well worth it.
North Salmon Creek Beach sees a bit more surf fishing pressure. A second beach access point can be found near Salmon Creek and a short walk in either direction yields ample opportunity to land a few surfperch. Barred and redtail surfperch predominate.
If the seas are rough or you are looking to catch a variety of saltwater species, head toward Doran Beach on Bodega Bay. Stick close to the North Jetty which should shelter you from the roughest surf and hold a good variety of fish.
Bodega Dunes Campground and Doran Campground have fine amenities and plenty of reservable campsites. Most parking areas with beach access also have pit toilets or restrooms. Other lodging and a marina are in the nearby town of Bodega Bay.
Additional California surfperch fishing information
Surfperch fishing in California is an experience unique to the coastal beaches of the Pacific Ocean and it happens to be one of the most underrated fisheries at our disposal.
You can visit any one of the prolific public beaches along the California coast and catch a limit of surfperch. All while experiencing some of the best sunset views of the west.
Surfperch fishing in California is open year-round. Both non-resident and resident anglers must purchase a saltwater fishing license before fishing. Surfperch daily limits are a generous 20 fish aggregate limit with no more than 10 fish being of one species. The minimum retention size is 10.5 inches when measured from nose to tail.
Be sure to visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website where you’ll find up to date regulations and license fees.
Want to learn how to catch more surfperch? We share all our best surf fishing advice in our complete guide to surfperch fishing. We cover everything from finding fish to selecting the best baits, all to help you up your surf fishing game!