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     September 2021 

     A series of swells was the only limiting factor in the month of August. The fishing reached a summer peak. In each swell episode, booming waves, ripping current, lots of junk in the water and disappearing sandcrabs made any consistent catching, tough. But warm, clean water, just offshore, quickly restored good conditions on the beaches and the bite quickly rebounded. The month ended with excellent fishing during the strong tides on the backside of the full moon.


The corbina bite has been very good with sandcrabs accounting for most bites. The preference has been for dime-to-nickel-size baits. On days when the sandcrab bite falls off, changing up to a bloodworm or ghost shrimp might get you a look. The croaker bite was also solid with a lots of yellowfin and good numbers of chunky spotfin showing around the full moon. Most of the yellowfin have been ranging from 2- to 3-pounds with a few kickers in the 4-pound class. The spotfin have been quality with lots of fish in the 2- and 3-pound class and a few kickers pushing 5-pounds. Mussel has been a top bait. Bloodworms are also working well. When the swell is down, the calico bass have been active on the shallow reefs and inside kelp stringers. Squid has been the top natural bait. A few guys are wading out at low tide and casting swimbaits to the boilers. Some short and legal white seabass have also been in the catch, especially at dawn or dusk (at Torrance/PV beach in particular).  August saw the first spots of bonito showing in King Harbor. LA Harbor also kicked out some better quality speedsters to 3-pounds. The fish have been pushing schools of small anchovies and sardines. Look for birds and cast krocodile, kastmaster and lucky crafts in those areas.

The halibut bite was slow. The best aspect of the swells and churned-up water, was a marked increase in leopard, smoothound and shovelnose catches to go with lots of bat rays ranging from 50- to 100-pounds.

SANTA BARBARA—Strong, full moon tides made for good fishing most of the week, according to Tiffany Vague at Hook, Line and Sinker. A big swell made for tough fishing through the weekend. Corbina anglers found more biting fish off Carpinteria (This is where I would target this time of year for the biggest corbina, fish south of the entrance between the lifeguard HQ and the oil pier). This stretch has been holding good numbers of fish throughout the summer. A smaller, dime-size sandcrab, was the preferred bait. A screen is helpful in picking out the right size or any softshells. The barred perch fishing has also been good along this stretch. Most anglers post near limits or limits of smaller fish averaging from ½-to 1-pound. Mussel has been a top bait but catches have been made on lugworms, shrimp, Gulp! Sandworms and cut anchovy. There has been a few better kickers to 1 ¼ pounds.

Other good perch catches were made at Silverstrand, Santa Clause Lane and 5th Street. Yellowfin croaker and small leopards sharks have also been in the mix. Beaches to the west have also been productive for perch including Gaviota, Refugio and El Capitan. The halibut fishing has been slow with just a few legal fish reported. The calico bass picked up the slack, taking squid and squid tipped swimbaits fished on the rocky bottom or reef. There has also been a few white seabass along these same reefs (a great place to fish now for them is south of East Beach at “Graveyards”, a big white swimbait may be your best bet). Most are short but a few legal fish ranging from 28- to 35-inches were reported. One came from Goleta Beach and fell for a bone colored Flash Minnow. The shark fishers are scoring some better-size leopard sharks at the harbor mouth.

MALIBU– Good corbina fishing on Malibu and Santa Monica beaches reported Ginnie at Wylie’s Bait and Tackle. A big weekend swell made fishing all but impossible. Big boomers, heavy current, lots of junk in the water and the sandcrabs going deep, all made for poor conditions. With clean, warm water right off the beach, look for the bite to quickly bounce back. The shallow reef fishing was also hot prior to the swell. Anglers reported good catches of calico bass, sand bass, yellowfin croaker, sargo, barred perch and a few mostly short halibut. Spots like Temescal, Topanga, Leo Carillo and Big Rock have been good places to look. The calico bass have been at the top of the catch list taking cut squid, fresh market shrimp or swimbaits. Still a few reports of short and legal white seabass up at County Line. The better perch fishing, quality wise, has been off Oxnard. Mystery bites that keep rocking anglers near the old Charthouse may be seven-gills or black seabass. Other anglers have been catching a few legal halibut here. After the swell, there has been lots of leopard, smoothound and shovelnose sharks to go with some big bat rays in the surfline.

REDONDO BEACH– The corbina fishing was very good on south bay beaches prior to the swell, reported Pete at Just Fishing. A nice mix of better fish this week, with several pushing the 4-pound mark reported. A softshell sandcrab was the preferred bait with a dime-to-nickel-size sandcrabs a good second choice. A few nice fish came from the stretch near the Hermosa Pier but Manhattan, and Torrance beaches also kicked out some good catches. Cast outside the breakers and you will, most likely, get a yellowfin croaker. There have been lots of schools holding outside the breakers all along south bay beaches. Sandcrabs, lugworms, mussel, Gulp! Sandworms and cut anchovy have been getting croaker bites. Look for the action to quickly rebound as the swell subsides. A couple of striped bass were reported taken off El Segundo. The fish fell for cut anchovy and went 6- and 8-pounds. The bonito also made a showing in King Harbor. The fish are fresh and skittish, tough to get a lure on them. If your in the right place at the right time, Krocodiles and splasher and feather rigs will get a bite. The rock hoppers off PV scored more nice calico bass and the occasional white seabass on brown bait pattern swimbaits fished in the boilers.

SEAL BEACH– Several schools of bonito popped up inside LA Harbor, according to Big Fish Bait and Tackle. The fish were corralling spots of anchovies and small sardine. Some of the fish were respectable. A few anglers on the spot landed bonito in the 3-pound class. Krocodiles and Kastmasters were top baits. Look for signs of birds to tip you off to the fish. The water is warm and clean. On the beaches, the swell slowed a good corbina bite. Anglers fishing Sunset, Surfside and Bolsa Chica beaches reported lots of takes on the strong, full moon tides. Sandcrabs have been a go-to bait but some of the better quality fish were taken on ghost shrimp. Incoming morning tides have seemed best. With clean, warm water offshore, look for the bite to quickly rebound. A few anglers made some nice croaker catches near the Seal Beach Pier and Jetty. The ticket was casting double dropper loop rigs long, outside the breakers. Bloodworms and mussel were the top baits but the better spotfin to 4-pounds, came on ghost shrimp. High tides seemed the most productive. After the swell, the shark fishing really picked up with anglers reporting lots of big leopards to go with smoothound, shovelnose and plus-size bat rays. A slab of fresh mackeral or bonito is hard to beat. The San Gabriel River mouth has been a good place to look.The spotted bay bass bite continues excellent in LA Harbor, Alamitos Bay and Huntington Harbor. 3-inch swimbaits fished on a darthead has been hard to beat. The bite was also good at night under the bright moon.

NEWPORT BEACH– A pumping swell put the kibosh on the good corbina fishing along the pennisula, reported Ketcham Tackle.  Big surf, ripping current and dirty water dropped the catch down to a few small croakers. Prior, anglers were reporting 2 and 3 fish in a session at spots like Newland, River Jetties, 56th street and the piers. Smaller size sandcrabs have been the preference. Early morning tides under overcast skies have been best. A good share of fish are in the 2 and 3-pound class with the occasional 4- pound class tanker. Barred perch to 8-inches and 1- to 2-pound yellowfin croaker have also been in the catch. The bite will quickly rebound as the swell comes down. The halibut bite has been slow with just a few shorts reported. It will take some signs of fall to get some fish to move shallow. The leopard shark bite has been good in the mucked up, dirty swell waters. Several fish over 25-pounds were taken at River Jetties and near the piers on slabbed mackerel. Strong, full moon tides had the spotted bay bass on the chew inside Newport Harbor. Some anglers reported double-digit catch and releases on small swimbaits.

DANA POINT— Prior to the swell, corbina anglers reported the best fishing of the summer, according to Stephanie at Hogan’s Bait and Tackle. Conditions in Capo Bay were ideal with 70 degree water, lots of sandcrabs and strong tides. Most anglers were posting catches of 2 or more fish in a session. The best stretch was from the lifeguard HQ down to State Park. Early mornings with incoming highs or outgoing highs have been the most productive. A dime-size sandcrab has been a top bait. The lightest sinker needed to touch bottom has been the right one. A flourocarbon leader is a plus. A few small barred perch, shiner perch and yellowfin croaker have also been in the mix. With clean, warm water, right off the beach, look for the bite to quickly bounce back. The dirty water had the sharks and rays on the feed. Anglers soaking a slab of mackerel at Doheny scored a couple of 20-pound class leopards sharks to go with a few shovelnose and smoothound. Watch out for a large, tackle-busting bat ray. The dirty swell water got inside the harbor, slowing the bite substantially.

OCEANSIDE— Prior to the swell, anglers targeting the reefed beaches, were scoring some chunky calico bass, reported Hugh at Pacific Coast Bait and Tackle. Catches were reported from Tamarack, Swamies and Terramar. Wading out at low tide and making long casts outside the breakers has been the ticket. Larger-size swimbaits and Flash Minnows have been getting bites. A few short and legal white seabass have also been in the mix especially around the full and new moons.

Obviously, the swell wiped out the bite but look for a quick rebound. The corbina bite was also good early in the week. The stretch from south Oceanside to the Army/Navy Academy has been cracking with lots of quality fish in the mix. Again, morning tides have been the most productive. The spotfin bite was also good, early week. The beaches from the harbor jetty to the pier have been the most productive. The fish are schooling outside the breakers and can be reached with a heavy sinker and long cast. Mussel has been the top bait. Wrap a piece of thread around the bait and hook to secure it for the cast. Both single and double dropper loop rigs have been working. Several fish in the 5-pound class were reported during the week. Lagoon water temperatures have hit a summertime high and the bite has slowed to a crawl. The bay bass would be your best bet.

Often when the kelp is everywhere try fishing this area from one hour after low tide until high tide.  This will keep most of the kelp on the sand and provides for a productive period where each wave bring the fish closer to you.

SOLANA BEACH— A good, full moon spotfin bite was tossed on the rocks by a pumping southern swell. Several fish in the 4- and 5-pound class were reported early in the week. Cardiff, Table Tops and Ponto were a few of the better spots. Mussel, bloodworms and ghost shrimp have been the best baits. Some of the better quality fish were taken on ghost shrimp. 1- to 3-pound yellowfin croaker and small barred perch have also been in the mix. The corbina bite has been very good along Del Mar and Torrey Pines. Most anglers report 2 to 3 fish in a session. Smaller sandcrabs have been the preferred bait. Bloodworms/lug worms are also getting bites.

 What to look for this Month

Several storms, forming now off Antarctica, will bring swells more than 5400 nautical miles into Southern California during mid September.

Synopsis: September is traditionally a month where the beaches become deserted, water is warm and the fish are biting!  It’s one of the best months of the year for fishing in the surf. I often switch my baits this time of year from sand crabs to lug/blood worms, clams and ghost shrimp.  Surf fish have been gorging on sand crabs for months and they are ready for a steak!

     Although we see no storms originating along the Mexican coast we do expect rising swells from the south this weekend, and again, a larger swell coming from the tip of Antartica (some 5400 nautical miles away) will fill in during the middle of September.  This is a way off, but it does look like mid-month there will be a big swell along our south facing beaches.   Good news, as we continue to get warm clear water pumped north.

 Grunion Runs:

Over until March 2022

Tides:  Through the first three weeks of September there are some great tides around the new moon (Sept. 6) and the full moon (Sept. 20).  Labor day week has some monumental tides with +5 at high tide and -.4 at low tide…perfect time to fish the high tide and low tide periods.  Sept. 18th boasts a -.6 low tide and is an ideal day to fish around rock structure (jetties, inlets, offshore rocks) for fish that you could not regularly reach.  Tides during the last week of the month are very small (Sept. 25-30) and are perfect for targeting halibut.

Water Temps: South 68, North 60 (2 degrees lower)

Winds: September often sees light winds and the beginning of the Santa Ana wind period.  We will have light winds through next weekend with the chance of a low pressure zone sliding down the coast and producing increased west winds near the middle of the month.

Swell: South swells, all the way from Antartica, continue to push warm, clear water this way.  although there are no new tropical storms forming off central Mexico we will feel the effects of swells coming all the way from Antartica during the month.  Look for the swell size to increase during the middle of the month ( a time to fish in the harbor or near protective structure) and then be replaced by a small west wind swell later in the month.


Surf fishing reports compiled by

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney


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