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   Southern California

 Surf Fishing Report

March 2023

Dan's enormous perch

Water Contact Advisory:  The recent rain (and more on the way) has increased the risk of bacteria contamination in the surf zone from runoff. As a reminder, there is a risk of increased bacteria levels for at least 72 hours following any measurable rain-event (usually 0.1″ or more) during which time water contact should be avoided.

     A challenging month as winter storms buffeted the southern California bight. Heavy rain, runoff, wind and swell made for extended periods with no conditions. Mid-month there was a respite and the barred perch bight showed signs life. A couple of 3-pound fish and several 2-pound class fish were reported taken off beaches west of Santa Barbara.

     The perch bite up and down the coast showed good sign before the latest series of storms. Look for this bite to rebound with any kind of improvement in conditions.

     The northern beaches are holding the better quality fish. The better stretch of weather, mid-month also produced some halibut catches. Several legal fish were taken in the lagoons and on the beaches with a few in the 30-pound class. The storms wiped out conditions and killed the bite. But look for more halibut catches as the weather improves and we move toward spring. A few striped bass catches were also reported.

SANTA BARBARA:  The barred perch bite was gaining steam before a series of storms wiped out conditions, reported Hook, Line and Sinker. Prior to the weather a couple of fish over 3-pounds were checked in taken off the western beaches like Surf Beach and Jalama. Several fish in the 2-pound class were also reported. The grade was smaller below the harbor but the numbers were better with most anglers reporting limits. The worm bite was best with lugworms and bloodworms producing. A few more striped bass were taken prior to the weather at the Ventura River mouth on anchovies. Look for this spot to produce more fish as the water cleans up.

MALIBU:  A good squid bite was developing in the rocks before foul weather spoiled conditions, according to Wylie’s. Anglers were picking at a mixed bag catch of calico bass, sand bass, small yellowfin croaker ,cabezon and shallow water rockfish. Beaches like Big Rock, Pescador and Matador saw good catches. Not a lot of fish but some quality models. The barred perch bite was also good off County Line and below Mugu. Its now a waiting game for better conditions.

REDONDO:  Prior to the weather, there were some barred perch catches reported off the Manhattan and Hermosa piers and Torrance beach, according to Just Fishing. The fish ranged from 4- to 6- inches wih a few better kickers to 8- inches. Gulp! Sandworms and lugworms have been top baits. The fish want to bite but conditions continue to challenge. The halibut bite was lso showing signs of life prior to the weather, This trend should continue with improved conditions. A striped bass was taken off Dockweiler on an anchovy.

SEAL BEACH:  Big Fish reported more legal halibut along Shoreline Drive and Cherry Beach before storms wiped out conditions. The fish ranged from 22- to 28-inches and were taken on Zoom Flukes fished drop shot. Heavy rain and runoff shut down the bite but prospects are good moving forward. Look for more halibut catches ar conditions get better. Bolsa Chica and Huntington Pier were two good spots for barred perch prior to the weather.

NEWPORT BEACH:  An improving halibut bite was dashed by poor weather according to Ketcham Tackle. Anglers were finding legal fish off Newland and River Jetties. The Flash Minnows were starting to work. Look for a rebound with a stretch of better weather. Good perch bites at Bolsa Chica, Huntington Pier, River Jetties, the Wedge Jetty, Salt Creek and T-Street, all fell prey to stormy conditions. The fish were not large, ranging from 4- to 6- inches with a few kickers to 10-inches. The lack of size was made up by aggressiveness as the perch were taking most offerings. Gulp! 2-inch Sandworms and motor oil grubs fished on a carolina rig were top presentations.

DANA POINT:  A good perch bite off Salt Creek and Strands was wiped out by stormy weather, reported Hogans. The fish were ranging from 5- to 7- inches with a few kickers. Gulp! 2-inch Sandworms have been hard to beat. The grub bite has also been good. Halibut were starting to show in and around the harbor, off Doheny and off Cottons Point. Weather put a stop to the bite.

SAN DIEGO:  Bad weather put the kibosh on a developing halibut bite both on the beaches and in the lagoons and bays, according to Pacific Coast. Prior to the storms, several legal fish were reported from south Carlsbad, Del Mar, Ponto, Carlsbad Lagoon and Mission Bay. The bait bite was best but a good lure bite was developing. Look for this bite to bounce back with better weather and spring around the corner. The barred perch bite was also solid before the weather with anglers reporting good fishing for smaller models on several beaches including the Army/Navy Academy, Del Mar. Torrey Pines, Mission and Imperial beaches.

Gundy Gunderson

Thank you Daniel, Jody, Jordan, Josh, Wayne and Shane and to all the anglers for their great reports and photos…

PLEASE keep them coming!


Calm and Serenity return to Huntington Beach and the OC today March 3, 2023


What To Look For This Month

Mid March will signal a change in swell and storm direction as low pressure areas that form near the Aleutian Islands will slide south toward Hawaii and then straight East into Southern California.

Synopsis:  Does March come in like a lion and leave like a lamb?  I thinking no, for this year.

     It’s been quite a February.  More rain and snow than we’ve seen in years and it’s not over yet. By golly, Mountain High had 110 inches of snow in one week! March is often the rainiest month of the year in Southern California…and I expect this year to be no different.

     The good news is that all the storms have completely reshapped our beaches.  We will have all new holes, troughs and fishing structure that has not been seen in decades.  Back in the 1990’s we had a winter like this.  It exposed a huge pile of boulders placed decades before to stop erosion at Sunset Beach (near Huntington).  What happened next was amazing.

     The storm’s removal of sand had not only exposed the rocks but a huge colony of pile worms that were living in a “beach condo”, under the rocks.

  There is solid evidence now that a new El Nino pattern is taking place in the central Pacific.

     By mid month the storm track will move south and reinvigorate the “Pineapple express”.  We should see significant storms, rain and snow near mid month. 

     During summer this year we now have a very likely chance of more and stronger, west-coast, hurricanes.  This would mean storms from the south would deposit more sand on the beaches than usual and water temps will rise.  It a very promising situation all together and I’ll keep a close eye on it and let you know as the El Nino develops.

Grunion Runs Over For 2022 

Observation Months 2023: March, April, May, June  Collection Months 2023: July and August (Limit 30)

Temp: 51, north.  57, south. (Cooler)

Tides:   I often think how lucky we are that earth and the planets that we interact with wobble on their axis and help to fluctuate our global tides.  This month has a fantastic mix of big tidal swings and small swings that will offer great perch and halibut fishing.

March 7th gives us a full moon and some very large tide swings.  Considering the weather looks good in the short run, large tidal swings will provide some good perch, yellowfin and spotfin fishing.  Near Mid month we do expect a series of new Pacific storms to come our way but mid-month also has very small tidal swings and would be a great time to fish in the bay or near rock/jetty/harbor structure.

 As we come to the last two weeks of the month March 21st will be the new moon.  Dark at night, this tidal period will have some large tidal swings and some very hungry fish.  You’ll have to work around the storm surges but because it’s pitch black dark at night fish won’t be able to feed…making them very hungry early.  I’d hit the beach (and it’s cold, I know) right at sunrise on the days that surround the new moon.  Start your day with two donuts and a cup of coffee (because you deserve it!) and the cold won’t bother you while you slay the surf fish!

Winds:  Strong onshore winds after each storm event followed, a couple of days later, by light morning offshore winds with 10-15 mph on shore winds in the afternoon.  March will have swings of very windy days and calm days.  Fish the days when it’s calm, especially those days just before a new storm arrives.

Swell:  Big change in swell direction by mid March with a new set of storms being pushed south from the Aleutians toward Hawaii, then straight East to California.  Look for swells this month to be head-high during storm periods, smaller inbetween storms.  Notice the swell direction will also change from NNW to WSW as we begin to see the formation of an atmospheric highway sending swells from Hawaii to CA.

Good luck and good Fishing!   

Thank you to all the anglers for their great reports and photos… PLEASE keep them coming!


Surf fishing reports compiled by

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney


     Send your pictures and reports to:  fishthesurf@mail.com