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Southern California Surf Fishing Report May 2022

Thank you everyone for your patience with my surf fishing store www.surffishtackle.com.  I’ve noticed it was loading slowly over the last few months….just to find out that the Microsoft Azure Servers had been hacked and crashed the entire system.  They have been working to port the stores over to new servers but that has taken far too long.  I have now opened a new store, with the same address www.surffishtackle.com and I’m beginning to transition our inventory of 398 products.  We are open for business with a growing inventory every day.  Our store is vital in helping to provide funding for our seminars.

Thanks for your patience with this and as soon as we are finally done we will all go on a long cruise to the Caribbean!

Improving Beach Report

The month of April saw some of the best spring halibut fishing in recent years. The bite was solid on the open beaches but inside the bays, harbors and lagoons it was outstanding. The bite in the protected waters was best from Newport Harbor south. North County lagoons, Mission and San Diego Bay saw some of the best fishing with several fish reported in the 20-pound class. Anglers were finding quality halibut in waters as shallow as 10 feet. The bait bite was best with live and cut sardines, a top choice. Cut anchovy and live smelt were other productive baits. Small swimbaits and soft jerk baits have also been getting bites but the better fish have come on the natural baits.

On the northern beaches, a series of grunion runs has put a lot of halibut in the surfline. Unfortunately, most of the fish have been shorts save a few legals to 28-inches. Of more interest up here has been the presence of schools of white seabass outside the surfline and inside the kelp edges. The fish have been ranging from short to 35-inches and are feeding on staging grunion and plentiful schools of anchovies and sardines. The far western Santa Barbara beaches like Gaviota and Refugio have been holding. Other fish have shown off Palos Verdes and inside LA Harbor. A few striped bass catches were also reported off Carpinteria and Dockweiler Beach.

The first ripe barred perch were finally reported at the end of the month. The spawn is late. Santa Barbara, Ventura and Oxnard beaches have been host to some of the spawners. There are rumors that the stronger barred perch spawn has been taking place off central California beaches like Pismo. From Point Dume south, the barred perch have been small. They will bite well. Early corbina catches and sandcrabs were also reported this month. Warmer than usual water temps have triggered the early activity.

April saw some of the first legitimate croaker bites with mostly yellowfin and a few spotfin in the mix. The Seal Beach Pier and Jetty, River Jetties, the street jetties, Doheny and Swamis all produced catches.  Worms both lug and blood fished best. Warm water and staging grunion perked up the calico bass bite on the shallow reef. Leopard shark catches also increased with both juvenile and large 25-pound plus fish in the surfline. Fresh made mackerel has been a top shark bait.

SANTA BARBARA— Several species were on the catch list this week reported Hook, Line and Sinker. The barred perch bite was good with anglers reporting ripe fish and the first spawners of the season. Catches were reported from a bunch of different beaches. The western beaches like Gaviota and Refugio have been good. Solid catches were also reported from Graveyards, Carpinteria  and Silverstrand. A lot of fish in the 1-pound class with better models pushing the 2-pound mark. Both artificials and natural baits are working. Grubs and Gulp! Sandworms, lugworms, bloodworms and mussel have all been effective. A few corbina have also been spotted in the surfline. A legal white sea bass was taken near the Goleta Pier. A striped bass was also reported taken near Carpinteria. The halibut bite has been very good with lots of fish on most beaches. The trick has been finding a legal one. A shop regular put the ratio at 5 shorts to a legal. Ring Hammers and swimbaits have been top lures attracting bites from halibut, white sea bass and striped bass. Lots of mackerel on the Goleta Pier.

MALIBU– More good reef fishing according to Wylie’s. Anglers soaking squid and shrimp are scoring some nice, keeper-size calico bass. County Line and Leo Carillo have been good stretches. Sand bass, yellowfin croaker, shallow water rockfish, and a few cabezon have also been in the mix. A shop regular checked in two 3- to 4-pound class yellowfin croakers. The underrated gamefish is one of the shop favorites. The big croakers were taken off Temescal. The sheephead have also been active on the reefs. One anglers scored several nice fish off Big Rock on mussel. The halibut bite has been good but most of the fish have been shorts. As the grunion runs continue, more quality fish should start showing. The stretch near the old charthouse is a good place to look for a better one. Flash Minnows, swimbaits, Zoom Flukes and cut sardine have all been working. Most of the local barred perch have been small. The best prospects have been off Oxnard and Ventura beaches.

REDONDO BEACH– The halibut bite continues to improve along south bay beaches, reported Just Fishing. With the better numbers, more legal fish have also been in the mix. Catches were reported from El Segundo, Manhattan, Hermosa and Torrance beaches. Flash Minnows have been a good fish finder. A slow-rolled Krocodile will also get a bite. In and around the harbor cut anchovy or sardine has been working. Most of the legal fish have been ranging to 28-inches. Up near Dockweiler, a few striped bass, ranging from 4- to 8-pounds have been landed by halibut fishers. The barred perch bite has been good for numbers but lack any size. Most fish have been ranging from 4- to 5-inches with a few better kickers. Gulp! Sandworms and grubs have been working well. Natural baits like lugworms and mussel are also producing. Some nice schools of white seabass both short and legal have been frequenting the shallow reefs off PV.

SEAL BEACH– After a third grunion run, the halibut bite finally kicked into a spring mode, reported Big Fish. Lots of catches were reported from Shoreline Drive, Cherry Beach and Belmont Shores. You have to weed through some shorts but there are good numbers of legal in the mix. Some short to just legal white seabass have also been in the protected waters. Swimbaits and Zoom Flukes have been top artificials. Staging grunion and schools of small anchovies and sardines are holding the fish. On the open beaches, catches were reportede from Surfside and Sunset Beach. The barred perch bite has been good off Bolsa Chica and Huntington Beach. Most anglers report limts if smaller fish with a few better kickers in the 1-pound class. Carolina rigged grubs and Gulp! 2-inch Sandworms have been top baits. The croaker bite was good off the Seal Beach Pier and jetty. Lots of chunky yellowfin to go with a few nice spotfin. The bay bass bite has been good in Alamitos Bay and Huntington Harbor.

NEWPORT BEACH– The halibut bite was a best bet this week according to Ketcham Tackle. The fish were on the bite in the harbor and on the open beaches. A few better models to 12-pounds, were taken in the main channel at the harbor mouth. Cut sardine was a top bait. On the open beaches, Flash minnows and Krocodiles have been top fish getters. Look for any signs of bait. Catches were reported from Newland, River Jetties, the street jetties and near the piers. Consecutive grunion runs have drawn lots of fish shallow. The yellowfin croaker were biting all along the peninsula. The long rodders were getting them soaking mussel and lugworms. Most of the yellowfin have been ranging from 2- to 4-pounds with a few spotfin to 5-pounds. Pier anglers have been spotting a few big white seabass lazily swimming near rhe pier. The spotted bay bass bite has been very good in Newport Harbor. Yellowfin croaker and juvenile white seabass have also been active in the bay. The Lilly Call bay tournament will take place over the weekend.

DANA POINT—  Strands and Salt Creek kicked out some solid barred perch catches, according to Hogan’s. South Laguna , in general, has been kicking out quality fish to 10-inches. Some of the better fish have been coming on ghost shrimp and bloodworms. Gulp! Sandworms, lugworms and mussel are also working. The last hour of an incoming tide has been best. A few corbina have been spotted but hooking one has been tough. The long rodders have been scoring some nice croakers on mussel and bloodworms. The stretch from the San Clemente Pier, south has been best. Other catches were reported from Doheny, the short jetty and inside the harbor. Short barracuda have also been showing in numbers inside the harbor. Small spoons fished early will get a bite. More white seabass catches were reported from swingsets to Cottons Point. The fish are feeding outside the breakers early and late. Grunion and Sardine pattern swimbaits have been hard to beat.

OCEANSIDE— The parade of legal halibut from the lagoons, harbors and bays has been impressive, reported Pacific Coast. Anglers report a shot at a legal fish in just about every session. One group of anglers caught and released 18 fish including a 25- and 35-inch legal in Mission Bay. Other catches were reported from Oceanside Harbor, Carlsbad Lagoon, Botiquitos, Mission and San Diego bays. The bait bite has been best with live and cut sardine working well. A shop regular and his son caught two 25-inch fish on cut sardine in Carlsbad Lagoon.  Another regular took a 28-inch fish on cut sardine in Mission Bay. The bite on the open beaches has also been good but the amount of legals has been far fewer. Here, Flash Minnows have been a top bait. The croaker bite continues to improve off the Oceanside breakwater and the Oceanside Pier. Yellowfin croaker to 4-pounds and spotfin to 5-pounds have been in the catch. Bloodworms and mussel have been top baits. A few legal white seabass have been active outside the surfline, early, along Cardiff.

SOLANA BEACH— More good halibut fishing in Mission and San Diego Bay. Anglers report lots of fish and a fair share of legals. Somer of the better models have been pushing the 40-inch mark. The main channels have been holding the quality fish. Lots of smaller fish are in the shallows. The bait bite has been best with live and cut sardine and cut anchovy working best. More quality fish have come on the natural bait. Swimbaits and soft jerk baits are also working with more shorts in the mix. Lots of juvenile and legal white seabass are active in the shallows off Point Loma. Some fish have been taken on swimbaits fished at first light. Schools of orangemouth have been showing in and around Mission Bay and San Diego harbor. The fish have been pushing spots of bait under the lights. The barred perch bite has been good off Mission Beach but the fish have been small.

Thank you Jacob, Jeff, Brian, Jason and all past and future anglers for the great photos!

 What To Look For This Month

A moderate set of two storms forming near Australia will be sending swells (and warm water) to our shores around the 8th of May

Synopsis:  May is a fantastic surf and bay fishing month and the real kickoff of summer.  This is the time that sand crabs will begin to come, in huge numbers to the surface…not only making catching bait easy but bringing the big fish out of the bays to gorge themselves on crab.  I would expect that the “Coastal Eddy” will begin to take hold this month and provide a soft wind from the south and warmer air and water temps.

Fish will be in big numbers this month along the beach.  They will also be hungry and out looking for food.  Try ghost shrimp, mussel, worms but mostly concentrate on finding the growing beds of sand crabs and use those for bait.  Halibut fishing with continue to heat up with some of your best times wrapped around the grunion runs.  You’ll find these fish near structure (rocks, jetties, harbor entrances, docks, etc.) and they should be most willing to bite near the peak high and peak low tide periods.

Remember, them fish have been cooped up inside the bay under a COVID lockdown and they are ready to eat!

Note About Grunion Runs:

Observation Months: March, April, May, June  Collection Months: July and August

MAY (observation only)

  • 5/1 Sun 10:05 pm – 12:05 am
  • 5/2 Mon 10:30 pm – 12:30 am
  • 5/3 Tue 10:55 pm – 12:55 am
  • 5/16 Mon 9:50 pm – 11:50 pm
  • 5/17 Tue 10:35 pm – 12:35 am
  • 5/18 Wed 11:20 pm – 1:20 am
  • 5/19 Thu 12:15 am – 2:15 am*
  • 5/30 Mon 9:35 pm – 11:35 pm
  • 5/31 Tue 10:00 pm – 11:59 am
  • Watch these days/time for your best halibut fishing periods.  Fish 2 days before, up-to 7 days after a grunion run to target halibut.  Get into the practice of asking the lifeguard/Warden where the fish came ashore…and fish there!

Tides:  May has some great tide periods.  Although the most extreme tides revolve around the full moon on May 15 and the new moon on May 30…the entire month has great tides for both open beach fishing for corbina, perch and croaker but also some good peak tide periods for halibut (especially after the grunion runs).  Thankfully, Mother’s Day has the worst tide of the month  :) Phew!

Water Temps: South 60, North 54 (lower)  Again, a downturn in water temps caused by winds from the NW and upwelling.  Look for water temps to recover (they have quite a bit already) and then increase around May 10 as we experience our first large south swell.  As the Coastal Eddy builds in this month look for water temps to stay much more stable.

Winds: Wind, wind, wind…how we love wind.  We should see the Northwest winds begin to subside next week and be replaced by the coastal eddy and Southwest winds.  This is what we are looking for this time of year.  South winds will be accompanied by South swells and both will push warm clear water up this way.  Until then expect wind to increase the chance of upwelling and lower water temps in the short term.

Swell: Today, through the end of next week will be dominated by NW wind swells.  Near the end of next week we will see a southern hemisphere ground swell begin to hit So- Cal.  Two back-to-back storms created an impressive fetch coming out of the Southern Ocean near New Zealand with at least 35′ seas. The first storm stayed a good 5,700 nautical miles away from SoCal but both will send a series of  mid to large swells to our coast beginning around May 7.  Look for a few more weeks of ever diminishing surf from the north to be replaced by increasing chances, throughout the summer, of swells from the south.


Surf fishing reports compiled by

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney


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