A Redtail Surfperch Photo Shoot

Back in mid October I spent part of a day trying to get some new shots of one of my favorite surf zone fishes, the redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus. I didn’t get a lot of redtail participation, and as I explain below, I didn’t spend much time with those that did. My photo shoot wasn’t a big success but here are the results.

Besides the image at the top of the page, I only got two redtail shots I liked and they are shown in the gallery above. The view of the redtail from above is my favorite – that’s a free-swimming redtail’s approximation sine wave. Living in the surf, they are strong swimmers and that shot shows a lot of action in the rear third of the body.

Stressing a fish for a photograph is not something I want to do. It’s not an altruistic sentiment, I want all fish to be at their very best when I snap a photo. Everybody wins with this approach, especially the fish. I also don’t particularly want to photograph a fish with a hook in it’s mouth, so I’m practicing a quick release, then getting a photo or two of the free-swimming fish during its getaway. This is chaotic in the surf; I once lost a camera to a sneaky breaker.

Most of my photos of free-swimming fish in the swash look like this, or worse

I wish I had more angles on redtails to show off from my brief photo shoot. It’s not much so I’ll close with this silver surfperch that wanted in on the action. Silvers spend a lot of time in the surf zone, and they don’t mind mixing with redtails. It’s easy to see how they got their common name. The silvery skin is so reflective is’s hard to get a good photo against wet sand, even on a cloudy day.

Silver surfperch, Hyperprosopon ellipticum


  1. Thanks for a fun read on a Wednesday morning. I especially appreciated the mental image of you doing the quick catch-release-photo-snap maneuver!

  2. I love it. I think I’m going to try surf bream on for size here in Oregon. Thank you so much for adding to my surf zone vocabulary. “Brim”, I got it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Would you mind sharing the details on the fishy rod? Finding the ideal surf rod for our relatively small NW coast fish is a bit of a challenge. Thank you for your wonderful blog. My wife and I have been enjoying it for several years now.

    1. Happy to share that information. It’s an IM6 blank I got from Anglers Workshop. I built it up a few years back. Like I said it’s fishy, probably due to the soft action on the tip. I don’t know that it’s ideal, being 14’8″, it gets a bit heavy over the course of a day. I’m including a link that will give more specs. The model I use is # SP148MF2. Good luck and thanks for the compliment. Finally, let me know if you settle on a rod; I’m always open to experiment. http://lurepartsonline.com/Online-Store/Salmon-Steelhead-Flies2/Anglers-Workshop-IM6-Float-and-Special-Purpose-Blanks.html

      1. I bought a Daiwa Maddragon carp rod model MD2300, 3 lb. test curve. 12 ft. Long. It’s very inexpensive. I have only used it a couple hours so far on a very big surf day in Wesport. Bite detection seems good, although I only had one. With a Shimano 4000 size reel on it, it seems a little front heavy. I think it may also turn out to be good for salmon fishing off the beach in Puget Sound.

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