White Seaperch


White Seaperch from the Trinidad Pier

Species: Phanerodon furcatus (Girard, 1854); from the Greek root words phaneros (evident) and odons (tooth) and the Latin word furcatus  (forked tail). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Embiotocinae.

Alternate Names: Splittail perch, forktail perch and white perch. In Mexico called mojarra lomo rayado.

Identification: White seaperch are often confused with pile perch. The tail is deeply forked and the first and second sections of the dorsal fin are about equal height; there is a black line along the base of the soft dorsal. The coloring is light silver or olive on the back, white or dark silver on the belly; often dusky with a rosy-orange cast; yellow at base of pelvic and anal fins. The fins are yellow or dusky. Sometimes with dark spots near the mouth but lacks the dark bar below the dorsal fin seen in pile perch.

White Seaperch from the Fort Point Pier

Size: To 12 1/2 inches; most pier-caught fish are 8 to 10 inches.

Range: Bahia San Carlos (and possibly Punta Cabras), central Baja California, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Tends to form small schools.

Habitat: Shallow-water areas both oceanfront and in bays, especially around combinations of rocks and fine sand.

White Seaperch from the Elephant Rock Pier

Piers: White seaperch can be caught on almost every pier in the state but in southern California they’re most commonly caught on piers inside of bays or harbors. Best bets: Shelter Island Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier, Dana Point Harbor Pier, Redondo Sportfishing Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Pacifica Pier, San Francisco Municipal Pier, Santa Cruz Wharf, Berkeley Pier, Fort Baker Pier and the Commercial Street Dock (Eureka).

Shoreline: A common catch for shore anglers throughout the state, especially in bays.

Boats: An inshore species sometimes taken by boaters fishing in bays, especially San Francisco Bay.

White seaperch from the Seacliff State Beach Pier

Bait and Tackle: Normal gear is a high/low leader equipped with size 6 or 4 hooks fished on or near the bottom. White seaperch are not as finicky as pileperch or other seaperch and will take a wider variety of baits. However, live seaworms, fresh mussels, and live shrimp are the best bait.

Food Value:  Mild flavored but sometimes a little soft and mushy.

Comments: White seaperch are often found together with pileperch and blackperch.

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

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