Japanese Sea Perch / Suzuki

2011/9/11 Japanese Sea Perch / Suzuki

 Maru Suzuki [jp] / Japanese Sea Perch
Lateolabrax japonicus
(Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1828)

Commonly known amongst Japanese game fishers as “Sea Bass”, this species grow as large as 120cm in Tokyo Bay, nation’s best fishery for sea perches. The name “suzuki” is given to fully grown adult above 60cm in size. It changes its name as growing larger. Below 35cm = seigo, 35-60cm = fukko, 60cm and above = suzuki. Average size being caught by fly are fukko class, but they have occasional catch in suzuki class in good season.

Within the family of suzuki, this one is known as maru-suzuki or round sea perch by the shape of its head. There are also:

a) Hira-suzuki [jp] / Blackfin Sea Perch / Lateolabrax latus (Katayama, 1957)

b) Tairiku-suzuki [jp] /Chinese Sea Perch/ Lateolabrax maculatus (McClelland, 1844)

All 3 species in Japan are anadromous, but hira-suzuki is often found in rocky reef or rocky surf when you see abundance of maru-suzuki in bay or sandy surf.


Sea perch can be fished in all seasons. Use 6 weight for fish below size 35cm which is common in bay area casting game, but it is better to bring 8-10 weight for your boating game, because you have chance to catch above 70cm and 9 or 10wt gives better handling of full sinking line. Floating game is best played at 8wt.

1. Surface Game

Most exciting game is surface game with floating line and floating minnow pattern. You cast to narrow spot, corner, or parallel to structure to lure fish into reaction bite. You retrieve slowly to let the fly create pulse and small wake.


Easy way to lay the line, in case of casting to the wall, is to quarter side cast flyline and let it hit the wall just above water to turnover the whole thing parallel to wall.
If you can curve cast and don’t need to do that, then keep it tightly off the wall that comes with shark objects such as oyster to damage your rig.

Tackle: 6-8wt, floating line, 6 feet leader, 30-40lb test bite tippet
Fly Patterns: Iwai minnow, Gartside’s floating minnow, Gartside gurgler

You could get better view on this video:

2. Shade Game

Sea perch likes to suspend in shade before attacking its prey. You cast into the shade and retrieve your fly out of darkness into bright area to agitate fish into competition for a bite. Depends on the time and tide of the day, suspending depth varies. During dark time, perch suspends in depth from about 1.5m to just below surface.


Tackle: 6-8wt, intermediate line, 8-16lb test 6 feet leader
Fly Patterns: Rabbit zonker, Iwai Minnow sinking arrangement, Lefty’s Deceiver, and etc.

You get a good look of this game from this video produced by the club:


3. Countdown Sinking Game

You aim for fish suspending tightly along a structure in deeper water column by casting far and countdown the line until it sinks to desired depth. You strip the line to let your streamer swim like a rogue bait fish. This is ideal game in bright hours when fish suspends below 3m depth. There is high probability of getting your leader snagged, so make sure to use fluorocarbon above 16lb test as tippet.

Tackle: 8-10wt, fast sinking line, 16-30lb test 6 feet leader
Fly Patterns: Lefty’s Deceiver, flatwing streamer, and rabbit zonker.

4. Swing

Basically same as #2 only done in fast current hitting structure such as bridge legs or rock in reef. Much like how you do wet fly in river, you cast across the current and let your fly swing by where the fish is to turn him on. Sea perches react well on motion going vertically, so as soon as your fly finishes swinging and begin to swim upward is the most likely time of bite.

Tackle: 8-10wt, fast sinking line, 16-30lb test 6 feet leader
Fly Patterns: Lefty’s Deceiver, flatwing streamer, and rabbit zonker.

5. Sight Fishing

Only on special occasion during daytime. You spot a perch suspending underneath a boat or around obstacles. Cast your fly out to his view then lure him into bite.

Tackle: 6-8wt, fast sinking line, 16-30lb test 6 feet leader

Fly Patterns: Surf candy or any other life like small minnow patterns.

6. Shoot at Boil or Blitz

From time to time, you come across a boil or a blitz where perches are in feeding frenzy and won’t hesitate to attack anything moving. This is a jackpot and nothing special to say about. Tie whatever that look appealing to fish, cast it well, and he will take it.