Today, we focus on surf perch fishing on the Olympic Peninsula beaches with Ed Fuhrken and Kyle McCurdy from Waters West. 

We break down their Top 5 Tips for Surf Perch fishing. Find out why you should consider surf perch fishing for your easy days on the water. 

We touch a little bit on steelhead – their bread and butter – how they’re handling the changes in steelhead numbers which are slowing down lately.

And we also talk about life.. wisdom that leads to more fishing.

Click below and listen to the Podcast about Surf Perch fishing with Ed Fuhrken and Kyle McCurdy:

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Show Notes with Ed and Kyle

04:50 – Ed was born and raised in Mexico. He used to fish a lot before but stopped because he felt bad wounding some fish he caught – he later discovered that there are hooks called, barbless, that were safer for the fish. Then he got back to fishing.

06:30 – They describe what Olympic Peninsula is like – mountains and beaches.. surfing, snowboarding, and fishing

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08:30 – Dave Steinbaugh founded Waters West – Ed tells us how the fly shop got started

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11:30 – Dave was retiring and wanted to sell the shop – Ed had some money saved up after working a few jobs as a software engineer. Ed was a regular customer at Waters West because they had good steelhead fly tying materials. Then he bought the shop from Dave.


13:00 – They catch steelhead during the winter. Salmon, trout, and surfperch in spring.


14:30 – Surfperch can be found on sandy beaches in the steepest part

18:00 – They typically use 5 wt rod with intermediate line, orange clouser minnow for flies or bonefish flies with led eyes. Ed and Kyle break down the fishing tactics.

21:45 – The best time to fish surf perch is 1 or 2 hours after the high tide as the tide is moving out

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22:30 – Since last year, Ed started using a steel leader because one day he was catching surfperch and he hooked on a lingcod but it got away – it sliced through his leader. Lingcod feed on surfperch in Spring.

29:06 – For leaders, you could use a straight piece of Maxima – 7 feet to 3x is pretty standard, 10 or 20 pound

29:45 – They have a YouTube video tying a surf perch fly – scroll down to watch the video. Surf perch can take a big fly, shrimp or crab pattern – 2 to 8

33:20 – You can catch 10 to 20 surf perch a day in just a couple of hours. They’re good eating fish too.

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38:04 – For reels, they usually use a Lamson Guru. We had Nick Torres from Waterworks Lamson at WFS 213 and WFS 304

Photo courtesy of Caddis Fly Shop

39:06 – Surf perches give live birth – babies come right out of their mother swimming. They don’t lay eggs like salmon or steelhead. They spawn in eelgrass because surf perch moms eat them.

41:25 – Read more about the redtail surf perch life cycle here

41:30 – You can catch some starry flounder near the eelgrass flats too

43:50 – If they could ask Bob Clouser a question, they would want to ask: What do most people do wrong when tying a clouser?

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45:40 – Ahrex hooks work awesome on surf perches too – we had Morten Valeur from Ahrex Hooks at WFS 150

49:24 – In most of the rivers in the Olympic Peninsula, there’s not a lot of bug life for the fish to feed on, that’s why rainbows go out in the ocean

50:25 – Sea-run cutthroat can be found in a more rocky structure beach

56:30 – Ed tells us how he stays positive when dealing with the changes in steelhead numbers

58:30 – John McMillan was on the podcast at WFS 117 where we also covered steelhead in Olympic Peninsula

1:09:30 – Waters West has a line, rod, and reel combo setup specifically for surf perch fishing


Top 5 Tips for Surf Perch Fly Fishing 

  1. Spring time is peak time for surfperch but you can fish them all-year round
  2. Look for the steepest part of the beach where is sandy, not rocky – the waves turns over the sand that release the sand shrimps and small creatures they feed on
  3. Use 5 wt rod with intermediate line, orange clauser minnow for flies or bonefish flies with led eyes
  4. As the wave breaks, cast behind it and then let get pulled down and strip it back through that foamy wash
  5. The best time to fish them is 1 or 2 hours after the high tide as the tide is moving out


You can find Waters West on Instagram at @waterswestflyshop

Website at

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Videos Noted in the Show

Related Podcast Episodes

Steelhead Report with John McMillan – Columbia River, Olympic Peninsula, Rainforest Steel (WFS 117)


Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

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Surf Perch Conclusion with Ed Fuhrken and Kyle McCurdy

So there you go..

Surf perch are not the typical specie that an angler would target but as you heard from Ed and Kyle, they’re pretty chill to catch and actually a good eating fish.

Who wouldn’t want a 10 to 20 average catch in just a couple of hours? I bet every surf perch day is a great day.

You’re on a sandy beach.. nice weather.. nice beer.. you hear the ocean waves.. you’ve got fish in the cooler to take home. Would you still complain?