Santa Cruz Sandcrab Classic #XIII Set For March 11

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The Sand Crab Classic Perch Tournament, based out of Santa Cruz, is now taking sign-ups. I have been to this derby virtually every year except for one since the event started in 2005 and I have enjoyed myself thoroughly every time.

An all-volunteer crew puts on the derby each year. The event has raised thousands of dollars to fund the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project, a model fish restoration project, over the past twelve years.

On that first day, a big Pacific storm hit the coast, with lots of rain and wind. Yet anglers still caught numerous quality perch all around Monterey Bay.

While I was on the Santa Cruz Wharf that inaugural day alone, I witnessed anglers catch seven varieties of surfperch, including barred, black, rainbow, striped, shiner, walleye and rubberlipped perch.

Since that inaugural event, nothing including a Tsumani one year and torrential rain another, have stopped the organizers and anglers from enjoying the tournament.

It is one of my favorite fishing happenings of the year because it is so grassroots, low key and different from any other event I attend.

“This is year #13 and it will be the biggest and the best,” said Allen Bushnell and Mike Baxter, event organizers. “We hope you can make it to the derby this year. Get your entry in quick, we are limiting to the first 300 entries due to space constrictions at the Portuguese Hall, and we WILL sell out this year!”

While many saltwater derbies focus on boat-based anglers, this is a surfcasting derby designed for shore, perch and pier anglers. The biggest perch in each category wins. There are equal prizes and trophies for barred surfperch and other colorful perch as well.

There is a 1pm weigh-in deadline that the tournament organizers observe religiously. Entries for the event will end on Feb 12, 2017

Here’s what you get for your entry fee:

  • A BBQ feast after the weigh in at Portuguese Hall
  • One coveted Sand Crab Classic T-shirt! (Be sure to mark your size on the entry form). You must be present to pick up the shirt.
  • A chance at great prizes and giveaway items from the event’s sponsors.
  • The ability to help the Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project!

The top trophy and prizes for barred surf perch are awarded for: Senior- 17 and over – 1-2-3; Junior- 16 and under 1-2-3; Women’s Division – 1-2-3 ; and Biggest BSP on Fly – 1-2-3.

Catch and release fly entries are OK with digital, dated photo with measurement units in inches.

The event organizers also award the top trophies and prizes for perch (non barred surfperch) for Senior – 17 and over -1-2-3; Junior -16 and under 1-2-3; and Women’s Division -1 -2-3.

“You may fish wherever you want with whatever you want casting from shore or jetties, piers, etc. and within current DFG regulations,” said Bushnell and Baxter. “Perch taken from any type boat are not eligible.”

Participants in the event have come from as far south as Ventura and as far north as Crescent City. While the winning fish have must often come from Monterey Bay, anglers have also brought in beautiful perch from as far south as Big Sur and as far north as San Francisco Bay.

You must weigh-in by 1pm. You must return to The Portuguese Hall by the 1pm cut-off time with your catch. To be eligible for any prizes you must check in by the cut-off time of 1pm.

“We will weigh all fish and determine the winners. The winner in each category will be awarded a trophy and prize. During dinner all prizes and giveaway items will be raffled off to the remaining contestants,” they stated.


  1. All fish entered must be caught using methods deemed legal by the California Department of Fish and Game. All adult anglers over the age of 16 must possess a current California fishing license while engaged in fishing for the tournament. Shore fishing only, no boats. Pier and jetty fishing is OK.
  2. All fish must be presented for weigh-in at the official measuring station by 1pm on Derby day. Flyfishers may present digital, dated photo with measurement units in inches.
  3. Fish caught prior to the day of the Derby are ineligible.
  4. All perch species and only perch species are eligible for the Derby. BSP and other perch share top honors, with a full complement of trophies and prizes.
  5. Winners will be determined by the single PERCH of greatest weight. Should two or more fish tie for greatest weight, whichever fish is longer will be determined as the winner.
  6. Must be present on Derby Day to pick up T-Shirts. No shirts available after Derby Day March 12, 2016.  

*Please note: Derby entry purchase confirmation will come from via email from Paypal after you checkout.

Be sure to enter your email address correctly.

Be sure to include YOURS and multiple entrants’ FULL NAMES and T-Shirt Sizes in the “Order Notes” box on the checkout page.

“We put on the derby as a community service, and to support MBSTP,” Bushnell and Baxter said. “ It’s a whole lotta fun, but also requires a lot of work and time. We can’t offer any refunds or rebates if you don’t make it on Derby Day, and T-Shirts are distributed on Derby Day only.”

Any problems, contact, and Allen will do his best to resolve.

You can sign up online using credit card or PAYPAL by going to or All inquiries should go to

There are signup forms available on website for mail-in entries. Bayside Marine at the Santa Cruz Harbor also has entry forms and will accept payment at their shop.