The surf fishing investigation was begun when a need for more knowledge of the most important surf species became apparent.
Discussions held with surf fishermen and biologists familiar with surf fishing conditions, indicated an apparent decline in fishing success. As a first step, a study was made to determine the most important game species in the fishery. A preliminary survey indicated that these were barred surfperch, Amphistichus argenteus, California corbina, Menticirrhus undulatus, spotfin croaker, Roncador stearnsi, yellowfin croaker, Umbrina roncador, and opaleye, Girella nigricans. The latter was not studied by the project because it is more truly a rocky shore dweller than a surf inhabitant.
The essential life histories of the four remaining species (hereafter designated project species) were studied. A voluntary catch record system and a creel census were used to provide information on the relative importance of each and fishing success along the entire southern California coast.
This information was needed before steps could be taken to insure sound management of the resource.
The results of the surf fishing investigation will appear in two separate publications: this bulletin on barred surfperch and a later one on California corbina, and spotfin and yellowfin croakers.
The present paper deals almost exclusively with the barred surfperch, family Embiotocidae, the most important species to the surf fisherman. Barred surfperch range from Bodega Bay, central California, to Santa Rosalia Bay, central Baja California. Although found primarily in or near the breaking surf along sandy beaches they were captured by project personnel in 15 fathoms of water in Santa Monica Bay during June 1957. A trawl boat operator reported that he took large barred surfperch regularly in 40 fathoms off Morro Bay during the winter. Ulrey and Greeley (1928) had previously reported one trawled from 28 fathoms in Santa Monica Bay.