The Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby

The Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby

3-15-2019
Allen Bushnell
(831) 423-4242

Nearly 400 people gathered last Saturday at Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz to celebrate what has become a community institution- the Annual Sand Crab Classic Perch Derby. The crowd included anglers vying for trophies and prizes in the Men’s, Women’s, Youth, and Fly Divisions. Separate trophies are awarded for largest Barred surf perch and for “other” surf and seaperch. A dedicated crew of some 40 volunteers give their time and effort each year to make the derby an outstanding success.

This was the 15th Annual Sand Crab Classic. As usual, competition was tough, but at least the conditions were difficult and uncomfortable. Many participants found muddy waters from river and creek runoff. The morning also featured some rain and blustery winds. But, with so many surfcasting for perch all around the Monterey Bay and beyond, it’s a foregone conclusion that some big fish will be weighed in every year.

2019 was no exception. Santa Cruzan Joe Gomez took home the big trophy and gained the title of Grand Mater for the year. His winning fish was a barred surf perch weighing two pounds, 15.4 ounces, caught somewhere on the Eastside of Santa Cruz. Salinas resident Jay Punkar took first place for men’s barred perch with a 16.5-inch fish that weighed in at two pounds 15 ounces. Long-time contestant Brian Servel earned first place for men’s seaperch with a beautiful striped perch weighing two pounds 3.6 ounces.

Molly Hanson fished New Brighton Beach where she caught a barred perch weighing 2 pounds 14.9 ounces for the first prize women’s trophy. The women’s seaperch 1st place prize went to Melanie Gilbert who caught a nice Calico perch of one pound seven ounces, again at New Brighton Beach.

The Youth Division barred perch winner this year was Madison Jaurequi. She and her family fished “Zuma” Beach where she landed 15-inch fish weighing two pounds seven ounces. Repeat winner Samara Cortazzo used pile worms to hook her pile perch from the West Cliff area. Samara’s fish was two pounds, 5.5 ounces and measured 15 3/8 inches. Another perennial winner took the fly fishing top prize. Evan Praskin brought in a barred surf perch that measured 15-inches even. Full results can be found on the Sand Crab Classic Facebook page.

All proceeds from the event directly benefit our local non-profit hatchery and conservancy organization The Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. MBSTP has safeguarded and promoted population of anadromous Monterey Bay fish for over 40 years through its hatchery operations, educational efforts and by protecting and restoring natural habitat for salmon and steelhead trout.