Reef Seaperch

Reef seaperch from Monterey Wharf $2

Species: Micrometrus aurora (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880); from the Greek words mikros (small) and metr (having a womb), and the Latin word aurora (sunrise). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.

Alternate Names: Reef surfperch. In Mexico called mojarra de arrecife or perca.

Identification: Typical perch shape with the longest dorsal fin spines slightly longer or same length as the soft rays. Silvery with blue, green. and black on back; yellow or yellow-orange stripe on sides from the pectoral fin almost to the causdal fin. Triangular, crescent-shaped black patch at base of pectoral fin and a large patch of black-tipped scales between the pectoral and anal fins.     

Size: To 7.1 inches. Those caught off piers are generally 4-6 inches long.

Range: Punta Baja, central Baja California to Tomales Bay.

Habitat: Usually found in intertidal areas in water six feet or less. Generally found over surfgrass and red and green algae; primarily feeds on algae and small invertebrates.

Piers: A fairly rare species to most piers. I’ve only taken two, one from the Gaviota Pier (1996) and one from the Elephant Rock Pier in San Francisco Bay (2006).

Shoreline: An infrequent catch by shore anglers.

Boats: A small, inshore species rarely taken from boats.

Bait and Tackle: Occasionally taken on light tackle by anglers fishing for larger perch. Hook size number 8 and a small piece of bait, especially pile worm.

Food Value: Too small so throw ‘em back.

Comments: An attractive little perch that should be given the chance to frolic out their lives as nature intended.

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