Oregon’s powerful waves churn up sand and make a variety of foods available for the surf perch who call this tumultuous, high-energy environment their home. The diet of surf perch species commonly includes: shrimp, small crustaceans, amphipods, algae, small crabs, mussels, marine worms and mole crabs.
Surf fishing offers an excellent opportunity to stand in the surf and spend hours closely watching, and being a part of, this dynamic and beautiful ocean environment.
Fishing near maximum high tide, and in the hour or two of slack tide immediately after which, yields the best results for catching surf perch. The arrows indicate the area of inshore surf zone that holds the most easily accessible perch.
This photograph illustrates in closer detail the zone in which I cast my line. This broad slab of water is usually 3-5′ deep, is within casting range and seems to regularly hold the greatest number of surf perch.
Four small to medium sized Red-tail surf perch caught near Cape Perpetua. The Red-tail surf perch can grow to 4.5 pounds and 16″ in length. Red-tail can live to 14 years of age, give live birth to their young, and range from Avila Beach, California to Hope Island, British Columbia.
A Red-tail Surf perch (Amphistichus rhodoterus) caught using 20lb test mono-filament, a three way swivel attached to a red bead over Blue Mussel, and a drop line with 2oz pyramid sinker. The heavy pyramid sinker helps anchor the line in the turmoil of the surf zone.
Along with Red-tail perch, other surf perch which share the surf zone include: Silver Perch (Hyperprosopon ellipticum) and Walleye Perch (Hyperprosopon argenteum). The Walleye Perch (above) and two Silver Perch (below).
The ingredients used in this simple recipe include: brown sugar, shoyu, water, sake, chopped ginger, slivered garlic and green onions, Thai dragon chilies, whole white pepper corns, and bok choi.
Diagonal cuts are made along the flank of the fish to allow hot oil to penetrate the thickest part of the fish. This allows the fish to be cooked through, without over cooking.
In keeping with this Chinese recipe I’ve chosen to use rice flour to coat the fish prior to deep frying. After washing and scoring, I pat dry both inside and out prior to coating with rice flour.
I like to use a high BTU propane burner to deep fry my fish. This powerful heat source allows you to maintain that critical oil temperature of 360F, even when larger fish are cooked. I ALWAYS do my deep frying outdoors to keep oil fumes and strong (but wonderful) smells outside of the house. A wok is the perfect pot for shallow cooking surf perch. Also note the use of a large Chinese strainer for putting the fish gently into the hot oil without splashing; and for taking the cooked fish out safely and without damaging that crispy, golden fried tail fin.
Choose an oil with neutral flavor and a high smoke temperature. Peanut, soybean, sunflower, and canola oils all make good choices for deep frying. Have an accurate thermometer handy, and maintain an even temperature of approximately 360F.
Golden fried fish, cooked evenly throughout are placed between layers of newspaper and paper towel to remove excess oil.
Voilà! The finished dish is served over a bed of deep fried bean thread noodle and garnished with fresh ginger and green onions. If you have a special guest or a sweetheart significant other to share the meal; be sure to treat them with those prized tasty treats… yes, the cheeks and eyeballs are extra delicious!