DON’T FORGET to sign up for our FREE Surf Fishing Newsletter below!     
Check out our “Seminars” page for information, dates and registration   

   Southern California Surf Fishing Report

September 2023

     A strong August bite was crushed by a series of west winds and a massive rollover dropping water temperatures on the beach to the frigid 50s. Heavy runoff from Hilary finished off the job. The early part of the month saw the best corbina fishing of the season.

     Lots of quality fish were in the mix. Several legal white seabass were also reported from the surfline to go with good calico bass and sand bass fishing for the first time this year. The croaker bite both yellowfin and spotfin was very good with a few 7-pound class spotfin reported. A handful of smaller yellowtail were taken off jetties and piers along with several shore-hooked thresher sharks.

     It all came to a shrieking halt with the rollover. On the positive size, the cooler water is jugged with bait and there was a burst of striped bass catches. In the longer term, there is still plenty of warm water offshore and with several days of forecast fair weather, beach temperatures should rebound to near normal.


Water temperatures slowly warmed and the water cleaned up but fishing lagged a little behind, according Hook, Line and Sinker. The cleaner beaches out west showed the first signs of a bite kicking out limits or near limits of barred perch to 12- inches. With junk in the water, the bait bite was best. Lugworms, bloodworms and mussel were working. Gaviota, and Rincon have been good stretches. The cooler water was to the liking of the striped bass as several fish were reported taken ranging from 3- to 5-pounds. The fish have been showing outside the breakers often pushing bait. The stretch centering on the Ventura River mouth has been best.


Water temps rebounded to the mid 60s and the bite started to show signs of returning, according to Wylies. Barred perch catches were reported from County Line and below Zuma. The fish are small ranging from 5- to 8- inches with a few better kickers. Gulp! 2-inch Sandworms and mussel were top baits. With water temps warming, a few corbina were reported after a long slow spell. A few fish took sand crabs fished on good afternoon tides. Big Fish reported a few halibut catches in the cooler water. Cherry Beach kicked out several legal fish on dropshot Zoom Flukes. A 5-pound striped bass was taken at the PCH bridge on the San Gabriel River channel.

Orange County

After dumping into the 50s, water temperatures have been slowly rising resulting in improved fishing, according to Ketcham and Hogan’s. The cool up-welled water has been holding lots of bait and with it striped bass. A handful of 4- to 6-pound fish were taken at River Jetties on cut anchovy, an 8-pound fish was taken inside Dana Point Harbor on a live sardine and another 5-pound fish was taken at Doheny on a Krocodile. The halibut bite also perked up in the cooler, bait rich waters. Several catches were reported off Bolsa Chica, Newland, the Balboa Pier, and Doheny. Alamitos Bay, Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor.

San Diego County

Lots of cool, up-welled water, as low as 59 put the kibosh on a good beach bite, according to Pacific Coast. But the same cool water has been holding lots of bait and good numbers of striped bass. One angler scored 7 striped bass casting Zoom Flukes on a darthead at breaking fish at the Del Mar river mouth. Another angler scored a 4 pounder fishing for bay bass at night in the Botiquitos Lagoon. A few fish were also reported taken below Oceanside Harbor and off Solana Beach. The croaker bite has been improving with the warming water as anglers scored yellowfin to 3-pounds and spotfin to 4-pounds on fresh shucked mussel. A few chunky sargo were also in the mix. Anglers report seeing good numbers of corbina in the surfline but few biters.

Gundy Gunderson

Thank you Jeff, Matt, Russell, Brian, Rick and to all the anglers for their great reports and photos…

PLEASE keep them coming!


Catch Our Surf Fish Rod Sale!

Perfectly Matched Light-Line Combos For the Surf:

Okuma SST and Okuma Rox 30

All rod and reel combo’s include a fully loaded reel with 6lb Cajun Red Surf Line

9′ SST and Rox 30  $149.95

8’6″ SST and Rox 30  $139.95




What To Look For This Month


A growing El Nino along the Pacific Coast is warming up our water and preparing us for a great Fall of fishing

Synopsis:  September has always been one of my favorite months for surf fishing.  Traditionally, kids go back to school and the beach is deserted.  Some of our very best weather, tides, surf and biting fish come to the beach this month.

     Often this is the last month of the year to collect sand crabs as many surf fish are transitioning to different forage.  If you wish to have some crabs ready for winter now is the time to collect the hardest ones you can find, split them into a dozen in snack zip bags and freeze.  If you freeze any crabs that are not hard they will be mush when the defrost.  I like to squeeze a pack of hot sauce into each zip bag.  This coats them in an irrestible flavor and helps color them orange, which is a big attractant for winter perch.

     September is the month when all surf fish are biting.  Some of the biggest corbina of the year are out and feeding now.  In fact, just like a bear who eats to survive, they are out filling up on crabs for winter.  But look for them also to enjoy ghost shrimp, blood worms and mussel, as they try to find a bit of variety.  Spotfin and yellowfin are also active now as they spawn and feed for winter.  Look for grouping yellowfin under diving birds in the surf and cast a krocodile or kastmaster to find the school.  Spotfin will be a bit more moody, looking for a big soft-shell sand crab, ghost shrimp or worm.

     Fish lure in a fan casting motion with varying speeds.  Fish bait also in a fan casting motion, on the Carolina Rig, with a slow retreive toward shore.  In both cases walk the beach as you cast to “hunt” for the fish and you’ll have the best chance of finding them.

Warm water, indicated by the red and yellow tones is flusing into Southern California. 

As El Nino strengthens yellow and red will push north

Grunion Runs Are Over For 2023 

Observation Months 2024: March, April, May, June  

Collection Months 2024: July and August (Limit 30) 

Halibut often feed near shore before, during and after a run

Temp:  68 north-72 south (lower but on the rise).  Water temp has sure been the store in the month of August.  We had something happen in temp I’ve never seen: A huge hurricane was coming this way but because it hugged the Baja Coast it did not generate surf or push warm water north…instead it just gave us wind, which caused upwelling and lowered the sea temperture to as low as 58 degrees outside Dana Harbor.  Since Hilary, two weeks ago, the water has rebounded to over 70 degrees and will continue to climb this month.   The month’s cooler water put the fish off the bite and they are now back on the scene.

Tides:  September comes in right on the heels of an astronomical “Blue” moon with massive tides lasting just past Labor Day.  For 9/6 – 9/10 look for slack tide movement and good halibut fishing.  On Sept. 14th the new moon arrives and is surrounded from9/11-9/19 with some great tide swings…not going negative or over 6′ but great tides for corbina, perch and croaker.  September 20-23 again has some good slack tides for halibut fishing followed by minus tides and 6’+ tides during the last week of the month as we approach the full moon on Friday September 29th.

Winds:  Look for light morning winds, both calm and onshore and 8-15mph afternoon winds.  Winds should turn offshore or calm next weekend as a high pressure system over the Southwest settles into place.  September and October are often the most calm months for wind of the year.  Use this to your advantage to target areas you can’t reach on windy days.

SwellThe first full week alone of September we’ll see the convergence of two south swells, originating east of Australia, come ashore and produce chest to head high waves on south facing beaches.  These swells will be about 17 seconds to two minutes apart, so wait for a lull and cast your bait then.  Be sure on these larger swell days to fish a heavier egg sinker and a shore 12″ leader.  Fish will have mostly a reaction bite as they try to stay up with the stong long shore current, until the surf settles back down.

     On west facing beaches, look for a smaller (waist high) surf from the west.  This should provide some good water movement in the South Bay to Santa Monica area and also along the San Diego Coast.

     As we make our way into mid September look for swells from a current building hurricane (60%+ chance for forming “Jova”) just off the Mexico coast.  This storm will produce 30′ seas offshore and large surf along all south facing beaches.  Look for these swells to begin to arrive around 9/11.

     Later in September and what looks like into October we will continue to see hurricanes and cyclones form to our south and continue to bring warm water this way.  This should help to prolong both the sand crab and surf fish season well into December…or after our first major storm.

     Tip:  Stay off the beach/rocks and fish harbors, estuaries during the biggest surf days.  Fishing during the beginning of a building swell always seems productive but be patient after a swell to wait for the conditions to settle back in.  During strong swell and current periods fish school together, so hunt along the beach and when you find one you will often find many.

Follow Pacific Hurricanse Here: www.eebmike.com         

     Good luck and good Fishing!

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney reporting…


Surf fishing reports compiled by

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney


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