Email Interactions with Brett

Brett has worked hard at learning the art. He has studied the information at this site and applied them well at the beaches that he fishes. It seems like he has natural abilities in fishing because he learn really quickly. Also, he seems to give fishing a high priority in his life and fishing frequently!

If you are a beginning perch fisherman, it would be instructive to read through this interaction. It covers the following and more:

The messages are in chronological order except as noted. Brett's messages are italized. Glenn's are bold.

From: rc62 []
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2002 11:24 PM
Subject: surfperching

Glenn Thanks so much for the email, I enjoyed your site a great deal. I wish now I could enjoy it more buy having DSL, some pics loaded others did not.

I am very new to surf work. I wanted to figure a way to have some fun in between my trips for Owens Valley Trout. I live so far away from any rivers. It makes good sense for me to learn to exploit the surf. I can be on the shore in 45 minutes.

However I can see it will take some time to learn to read the water, tides, sand and spot likely holding zones. I am casting line blindly hoping to feel a hit. The routine has been to get out knee deep make six casts 2 @ 9,o'clock, 2 @ 3,o'clock, 1 @ 1,o'clock, 1 @ 11,o'clock then move up the or down the shore 40ft. and start over.

A big mistake I think was my rod choice, I read somewhere that a heavy weight rod would come in handy in the surf. I wound up with a 10' 9wt. I'm now wishing I had picked up a 7wt for the surf. But I must say I do like the length of the pole. It's not an expensive rig so I'm not out a lot of money, It's a Gallatin Onyx IM6 Fly Rod they are made reasonably well and run about seventy bucks. The same company makes a 9' 6" 7wt I think a may order that one in a week or two.

I have a St. Croix 9' 5/6 wt but I was disappointed in my distance casting in wind, however I was casting a floating line so maybe LC13 would make a difference. With the Onyx 10 footer I'm tossing Cortland 444 20ft sink tip line using 5 to 7 ft of 6lb leader. I bought I small bag of saltwater flies most of which looked based on a Clouser type pattern. The only hit I got was when I switched to a brown woolly bugger Trout pattern. I figured if motor oil colored plastic grubs will get them, then a brown woolly bugger might. I had three hits one small the others were better but I never saw them. I just saw their V wake as they dashed for the deeper water. This was my forth trip out in search of perch.

Definitely need a striping basket, my feet were tangled up in line a good part of the day.

The area I targeted was La Conchita beach north of Ventura I had read that Gary Bulla holds classes there but I never recognized any area that looked like a holding zone. The fish I found were by large rocks partially submerged with deeper pockets just behind the rocks.

Can you tell me which tide to fish and time of day to fish? Does tide matter much or time of day matter much?

Sorry for the Long wind But I can see this will be my new obsession for a while, until I have one those 10 or 20 perch mornings.

Tight Lines

From: Glenn Yoshimoto []
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 1:33 AM
To: rc62
Cc: Glenn Yoshimoto
Subject: RE: surf perching


A HREF="#linecontrol" >Line control I appreciate the feedback!

My stripping basket and 6-weight rod have made so much difference. I can cast like a machine all day (without tiring) focused on finding fish in high probability water. I recently put a new article out there under Techniques:
Instant Master? Interview of an exceptional fisherman. It focuses on techniques to catch a lot of fish. He also talks about his favorite tides and why.

It has been so long since I fished southern beaches that I'm not sure whether the reading water there would be the same as here. With soft sand beaches that have heavy surf, I think there should be a lot of similarities but I just don't know. It took me a lot of time on the water studying the subtitle differences in color, clarify, surface contours, wave heights, foam distributions (characteristics that look like a water motion). A lot of times you have to view over several sets of waves before a persistent pattern shows.

Line control (having a straight line from you to the fly) is the biggest learning challenge. Be sure to have ultra sharp hooks and use no larger then size 6 (no longer then 1x long) until you start to get perch.

I actually like low tide at first light and fishing into the first couple hours in most waters here. Our instant master thinks differently. But, we have had great fishing under almost all conditions where we could find moving water. We have had great fishing at all tides but less frequently at low and high and with very small swells.

Local fishing is great - that is all we do anymore! The fish seem to be there it is just that it takes a lot of effort to learn how to fish effectively.

By the way, locally the beaches have become mostly flat so grubs with spin rod are the most effective gear. I'm sure there are still some beaches that provide good fly fishing but I have to scout to find them.

Have fun learning...


Note: Brett's message is interleaved in the next one.

From: Glenn Yoshimoto []
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2002 1:04 AM
To: rc62
Cc: Glenn Yoshimoto
Subject: RE: Fly Fishing the Surf


Keep the questions coming - I have time now to respond! I'd like to continue to hear how you are doing. I'm really interested in whether the web site is really useful and can help shorten the time to learn the ability to catch a lot of fish. Also whether the techniques generalize to other areas. If you have a digital camera (or photos and scanner) it would be interesting to see pictures of the beaches that you fish.

I'll repeat a prior comment that is probably the most important point. Line control (having a straight line from you to the fly) is the biggest learning challenge. Be sure to have ultra sharp hooks and use no larger then size 6 (no longer then 1x long) until you start to get perch. I have fished next to buddies using size 4 hooks on grubs and not getting any hits while I was getting continuous fish using a size 6. He was actually getting bit but not feeling them. Read the
interview q&a about feeling hits: any change in dynamic might be a fish. This is especially hard in stronger water.

See my interleaved comments:

From: rc62 []
Sent: Saturday, September 07, 2002 11:34 PM
Subject: : Fly Fishing the Surf

Aloha Glenn

I hope this won't make you sorry that you gave me your email address. I had another disappointing evening on the shore tonight. I've got a few questions that I was hoping you might help me with.

My wife and kids decided that they would come along and hang out while I cruised the shoreline scouting for perch. So I knew I would only have an hour or so to dedicate to fishing. I started about 4:30 PM, fishing an incoming tide. This time I decided not to use my fly rod, I instead used spinning gear & motor oil color grubs. I have decided I'm going to keep using spin gear until I'm better at locating the quarry. Around 5:10 PM I got a couple of light ticks and landed another whopping two-inch surfperch. I fished that general area a little longer but felt nothing else.

1st question > You described the local beaches as flat do mean that metaphorically Or do you mean it literally? As if the waves eventually destroy the structure and good holding locations.

I mean literally. The small summer surf is not strong enough to create strong water movement (and sand movement) to deeper water so the beach rebuilds itself, the holes fill in, the cuts disappear and the fish are still there but further out (you still ought to be able to reach them with long spinning rod casts - say 120 to 150 feet). The beach ends up flat until the water storms move sand off of the beach and creates structure. You can see this by looking at the sequence of pictures in the
finding fish article under techniques. The lack of waves allows sand to fill in the structure and the beach ends up flat and the structure is less defined the fish end up to be not concentrated at all typically.

2nd question > I can cast my spinning rig to Hawaii should I avoid long casts how far is too much, or how much is too far?

The distance that fish hold depends on the structure so you can't generalize this. You have to see structure first. How steep are the beaches that you fish? Are they 100% sandy bottomed? Is the sand coarse or fine? Do you see any water movement like I show in the finding fish article?

3rd question > When grubbing is it better to cast & retrieve parallel to the shore perpendicular or ?

The best cast direction depends on water movement. It is like fishing in a river without shores (the current flows with in the surf). You have to look at the water over several breaks to see some consistent movement and look for the edges: color changes, clarity changes, sand turbulence edges, water surface shape including wave height. Study the pictures in the finding fish article and try to find similar structures on your beaches.

4th question > when I find the small fish, are they generally hanging out with bigger fish? Or do smaller fish seem to Cruz around alone more frequently.

Sometimes, big fish are in the same water as small fish. Many times it is as if they were all cut from the same pattern. We have found that the bigger fish frequently are in rougher waters. I talk about this a little in the finding fish article. Many times we would hook up on big fish at the same time then the school would move away. When we are lucky we find a cut that is so good that the fish stay around for an hour or more.

I've read every article on your site now more than once. I hope I'm not asking redundant questions. And I also hope I am not intruding.

I'll be going out again tomorrow morning at first light for a few hours maybe I'll score this time.

Aloha &
Tight lines


Keep trying to see detail in the water along the lines that I talk about. Your water might have similar or difference patterns but the ideas should be the same. Fish hold in water that feed is abundant in which they can hold without expending much energy. Good luck! I'm glad that you are getting some fish.


From: rc62 []
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2002 5:53 PM
Subject: Better day on the Surf

Hey Aloha Glenn

Well today was better, I got to the shore about 7:30 am the tide was again coming in. I spent the first hour just looking at the waves. I found an area where the waves would run up the shore in sort of a half circle. After a series of waves would roll up. The current or wash back would run almost parallel to the shoreline for about 75 yards and it would remain knee deep for extended periods.

I was able to pull 3 fish out this spot that were not bad, (pretty chunky perch) the biggest was over a one pound. Bait fishers near me seemed to be catching them further out, but I caught all mine in one foot of water.

I learned first hand what you mean about having the rod in the same direction as the line. I missed a few opportunities by having my rod at 90 degrees to the line. That must be a habit I've carried over from bouncing rappellas for trout. The bite faded and I moved to a different location catching one more smaller 1/4-pounder before calling it a morning.

I do think that the techniques and the habits of the fish are generally similar. I'm in Southern California 30 miles inland from Ventura. The bottom is rich with soft shell sand crabs. In this location however there was a pebble bed under the larger breaking waves further out. I wondered if that would be a problem for feeding Surf Perch discerning what is a pebble and what is a sand crab? We also have a remnant of a Mexican storm dancing off the coast a few hundred miles. Which has brought in larger than normal surf.

I was happy to have caught the three of decent size but I am not finished looking for the honey holes with 30 or more waiting for the take. Next time I go out I'll take the digital along and get some shots.

Aloha &
Tight lines

From: Glenn Yoshimoto []
Sent: Sunday, September 08, 2002 11:43 PM
To: rc62
Cc: Glenn Yoshimoto
Subject: RE: Better day on the Surf

Hey Brett!

Way to go! That sound like a very good moving water. It sounds like you caught the perch on the inside edge of the cut.

In water up here with such structure, we have found larger perch in the flat foamy area that feeds the cut. Look at the right edge of the pictures on my finding fish page. These areas for us have soft bottoms and are typically dense sand crab beds. If you look carefully in these areas at color, foam lines or water surface variations, you might see mini-currents working that you can work. Perch work these mini-cuts that feed into the main cut. Study water and you begin to see details that help you cast to high probability areas. The way you catch a lot of fish is to cast repeatably into these areas. The guy I fish with (the Instant Master - in the interview) scans the water as he retrieves to look for the best area to cast next. I think this is another key to mastery because it takes looking over several waves to see the signs of consistently moving water. It requires a two-mind Zen focus, (1) the eyes scanning for best waters and (2) the hands and eyes looking for change of dynamic of the line ready to react to fish. These flats dump water into the cut and at some point start to gouge out the sand to form the cut. This happens on the outside and the inside. The outside edge typically holds more fish for us. Perch work these edges and frequently if you find one you can get others. You can work back and forth in these areas to start into fish sometimes. To fish the outside edge, cast up current onto the flats and let you line drift over the edge.

I think sand crabs are in soft sandy bottoms. On our beaches, these areas seem spongy and you can feel bumps under your feet through surf booties. I think that pebble bottoms would be hard bottoms. I don't think that perch would hang out long in areas like that but that is just a guess - I don't know.

Our conclusion this year is that fish have always been around in large numbers and it is just that we have learned line control and developed a sensitivity to feel hits.

If you get any pictures of fish, I'd like to see those. Hey, I could include them in the photo gallery - that would be nice - the first user of ZFF scores! Any shot of water would be very interesting too! Especially water that hold fish.

What beach do you fish? Where do you live?

Congrads on the chunky fish! Good luck on finding a honey pot,


From: rc62 []
Sent: Saturday, September 21, 2002 7:38 PM
Subject: Fun on the Surf

Glen, Hey Howdy Hey.

I had a chance to get out for a little while today. This is the beach in Ventura, which is a part of the Channel Island National Park. I have had repeated success targeting Surf Perch at this location. I went out for a couple of hours today and landed several. I've included some e-shots.

The Beach

The Fish

This is pretty typical of the size fish I have been getting, Some a little larger I知 still finding that most the fish are out beyond casting range with my fly rod. I have been using light spinning gear. I have not been using grubs though. For fun I have been trying all my trout patterns this fish was caught on a large Mayfly pattern.

Cheers & Aloha


From: Glenn Yoshimoto []
Sent: Sunday, September 22, 2002 11:13 PM
To: rc62
Cc: Glenn Yoshimoto
Subject: RE: Fun on the Surf


It sounds like you have it figured out now. Those are really fat fish! Nice going. What size are the trout flies?

I'd like to include the picture and a little story on the web site. Can I include your last name? If so what is it? Does the picture show the water that your are getting fish in. Is there actually water movement from left to right (inside the breakers shown)? It looks like an edge angled out from shore going to deeper water. Is this the same area that you found fish before?

"After a series of waves would roll up. The current or wash back would run almost parallel to the shoreline for about 75 yards and it would remain knee deep for extended periods. "

I'll put something up and let you see it to OK?

I think you will learn a lot more about how to find fish with a spinning rod. The may fly thing is interesting!

I haven't fished for a long time now. We are making changes to the way we eat and going through an intestinal cleanse just because we want a healthier way of living. It is like a major lifestyle change - avoiding cooked foods and meats and carbohydrates as much as we can. I'll get out within a couple weeks though. It seems like most areas here have really slowed. I think it will pick up again in October with some spawners showing up. I heard that they were showing up already in the Cambria area. You may already be seeing them.

Keep up the good work and good luck!


From: rc62 []
Sent: Monday, September 23, 2002 7:35 AM
Subject: Re: Fun on the Surf

Glenn Good Morning & Hey Howdy Hey

Yes Glen, that is the beach I described previously. However the photo was taken at low tide and the dynamics of the water movement changes considerably. At higher tides the waves roll up a steeper slope that starts at the jetty shown in the background. The pitch of beach acts as the angled arc edge of a gold pan and creates the parallel movement. It is this situation that I can find the Perch in closer to shore and reach them with my fly rod. But even then I知 having trouble getting 40-50 ft casts with my outfit. What fly line would you recommend for for getting the best distance in strong winds?

The flies are pretty big as trout flies go. I picked them up in Oregon when I fished the Williamson River I知 not that knowledgeable about hook sizes, the actual hook is small but shank is long. I値l try to take some e-shots of the patterns that have been working for me. I will also get some better shots of the water movement at higher tide.

I don稚 always get to fish at optimum conditions I just get out when I can, and fish what ever I encounter. I take my children along sometimes and let them play while I fish. Plus when I catch a fish I love to see their excitement they react I guess the way I壇 like, jumping up and down yelling. "Daddy caught a fish. Daddy caught a fish."

It will be a little while before I get back to the surf. This weekend I値l be doing the Kern River.

So long for now Aloha


Brett Peterson

P.S. You can use my last name. & good luck with your new diet.

From: Glenn Yoshimoto []
Sent: Monday, September 23, 2002 11:49 AM
To: rc62
Cc: Glenn Yoshimoto
Subject: RE: Fun on the Surf

Hey Brett!

Look again at my
equipment pages. I can get 60 to 70 feet consistently with my 6-weight - I think even into a head wind. A north wind is tougher - I have to learn to cast with my left hand for that. I can cast 80 to 90 feet under ideal conditions on a lawn. I can cast 60 to 70 feet all day, continuously without fatigue with my 6-weight. The Shakespeare Intrepid rod is really a great buy (less then $40). I've tried Loomis ($250+) - a little better but not much. In some ways I like the Shakespeare better.

I think it is key to use a shooting head made from Cortland LC-13 lead core. It weighs 13 grains per foot. I used 22 feet that weighs a total of 286 grains (around 5/8th ounce). It is also key to use nice shooting line. I use Hansen's Leader Control (clear), 20# test. I think chartreuse Sunset Amnesia (mono) shooting line has better handling but I wanted clear - I may go back to Amnesia soon. Rio 20# test shooting line is good to but wears faster and is lots more expensive. Leadcore is really dense so that it cuts through water and air really well. It allows me to use a 6-weight under all conditions of wind and water.

Casting leadcore needs a different technique than regular fly lines. You should be drag casting anyway; that is, letting the line settle in the water and using the drag of the water to load your rod for backcasting. Don't false cast at all with leadcore. Just lay it in the water again if you have to backcast gain for timing with breakers. Don't use tight loops with leadcore. Use wide loops, aim high and use stroke with large follow through. This would be traditionally a very sloppy cast by trout fishing standards but it works well in the surf for leadcore. Be sure your casting plane is at an angle so the line and gravity drop the line plane down from the plane that the rod is in. You have to be careful with winds from the north that may push you line into your rod (and you).

I can get 60 to 70 (on the beach) with a single roll cast and one backcast. I start with a few feet of the head inside the rod tip. The final cast is made with the head a few feet outside the tip so you can double haul. Double hauling is really important for all strokes (that is using your left arm to strip shooting line to add velocity at the max pressure point in the cast. I use a quite large stroke.

If you get broadband DSL Internet service, you can watch
movies of my friend casting LC-13 . It might help you get the feeling of casting leadcore.

Oh, a shooting basket is really important too. Read the line control and equipment pages again.

Also for
line control, release the cast after (over) the last breaker and cast so that the line lays out flat so that you have the best contact with your fly as possible.

More water pictures and shots of the fly would be great.

Kids are a joy. I wish I had spent more time with them fishing when they were younger. I have three, all over 30 now. Two married. Two grandchildren. Two sons. One daughter. They are still a joy - I wish they lived closer. Most are in the LA area. Grandchildren are in Reno.

Good luck on the Kern! Thanks for keeping in touch...



Last Revised: October 3, 2002

This page © Copyright 2002, Brett Peterson & Glenn Yoshimoto