Blackperch from the Ferry Point Pier in Richmond

Species: Embiotoca jacksoni (Agassiz, 1853); from the Greek word embiotoca (bringing forth living young), and jacksoni  (in honor of A. C. Jackson of San Francisco, who first noted that these perch give birth to living young and brought it to the attention of Alexander Agassiz who described the species). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.

Alternate Names: Buttermouth perch, black surfperch, black seaperch or bay perch. Often called pogie by anglers in the Bay Area. In Mexico called mojarra negra or perca negra.

Blackperch from the Elephant Rock Pier in Tiburon

Identification: Typical perch shape. Although variable, their coloring is usually black or brown to reddish, and yellowish on the belly; scales often have blue flecking. Lips are orange or yellow and they have a “mustache” on the upper lip. Typically they have dark vertical bars on the side; a bluish-white line is often seen at the base of the anal fin. Easily identified by a large patch of enlarged scales between the pectoral and pelvic fins.

Size: To 15.4 inches; most caught from piers are under a foot. The California record fish weighed 2 Lbs 9 oz and was taken by Zachery Mitchell at Pacific Grove in 2011.

Blackperch caught by Minnowmagnet at the Berkeley Pier

Range: Punta Abreojos, central Baja California, and offshore Isla Gudalupe to Fort Bragg, Mendocino County.

Habitat: Most common in eelgrass beds of bays and rocky-shore areas; both in bays and along the coast. ]

Blackperch taken by madsteelhead from the Monterey Wharf #2

Piers: Common at most piers north to Bodega Bay. Generally caught at bay piers or inshore piling areas of oceanfront piers. Best bets: Imperial Beach Pier, Shelter Island Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, Dana Harbor Pier, Long Beach Finger Piers, Redondo Harbor Sportfishing Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, Venice Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Cabrillo Pier (jetty side), Malibu Pier, Paradise Cove Pier, Goleta Pier, Gaviota Pier, Morro Bay T-Pier, Monterey Coast Guard Pier, Capitola Wharf, Fort Point Pier, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Candlestick Pier, Berkeley Pier, Ferry Point Pier, Paradise Beach Pier, Elephant Rock Pier, Angel Island Pier, and Fort Baker Pier.

Shoreline: One of the main fish for rocky shore anglers in southern and central California.

Blackperch from the Capitola Wharf

Boats: An inshore species rarely taken by boaters unless fishing in bays.

Bait and Tackle: Prefers fresh mussels, bloodworms, pile worms, small pieces of shrimp or small rock crabs. Size 8 or 6 hooks fished on the bottom with a high/low leader seem to work best.

Blackperch taken by  Thomas Orosco at the Berkeley Pier

Food Value: In the past this was considered a fairly good, mild-flavored fish. Today, because of our polluted waters, they are considered unfit to eat in some locales.

Comments: Once a favorite spring fish for Bay Area pier fishermen; today there’s a perch closure during the spawning months.

Blackperch taken by KJ from the Seal Beach Pier

Grandson Adam and a blackperch from the North T-Pier in Morro Bay — 2018

Strange white-colored Blackperch from the Ventura Pier

A brightly colored blackperch from the Cabrillo Pier in San Pedro

Blackperch from the Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon, Catalina Island

Blackperch from the North T-Pier in Morro Bay

Blackperch from the Stillwater Cove Pier at Pebble Beach

Gravid female blackperch from the Long Beach Finger Piers

Blackperch from the Cayucos Pier, 1997

Many thanks to Robert O’H for the help with the pictures.


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