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SURF FISHING REPORT

     April 2021

     

     March proved to be a challenging month for surf anglers. A series of low pressure systems rolled through southern California making for tough surf conditions. Wind, swell and rain put most anglers on the sidelines. Persistent anglers fishing the short weather windows, posted good catches of barred perch, a handful of quality halibut and increasing numbers of croaker, mostly yellowfin but with good numbers of spotfin in the mix. The water temperatures have stubbornly remained in the mid 50s.

     The first grunion run of the year kicked up the halibut fishing especially in the North County lagoons but more bad weather tempered the bite. A 36- and a 31-inch fish were reported taken in the lagoons with several legal fish taken on the beaches. But a storm and heavy winds hampered the bite. The croaker were on the bite off Malibu, Seal Beach and Oceanside but slack tides and weather also slowed the bite.

     Looking forward, a second grunion run is set to hit the beach and a stretch of good weather is forecast. The halibut bite will only get better as more fish move shallow. Also, look for the barred perch spawn to accelerate as ripe fish begin to show. Croaker numbers should increase as shallow water warms and the sharks and rays will become more active.

SANTA BARBARA— More unsettled weather made for difficult conditions on most days, reported Hook, Line and Sinker. A few anglers got out on the better days and made catches. The barred perch bite has been solid with most anglers posting limits. The fish have been small, however, averaging from ½- to ¾ – pounds with a few better fish pushing the 1-pound mark. Gulp! Sandworms, lugworms, mussel and cut, salted anchovies have been the top baits. Best beaches have been Gaviota, Goleta, East Beach and Butterfly. A few spawners were reported although no signs of the larger hens. The halibut specialists are scratching away at a few legal fish when conditions warrant. Goleta has been a good stretch. Graveyards and the sandbar have also kicked out fish. Flash Minnows are a top fish finder. In the calmer water, small Big Hammers and cut anchovy are also working. When the swell is down, the bite on the reefed or rocky beaches has been good. Squid has been the top bait taking a mix of johnnie bass, chocolate rockfish, grass rockfish, cabezon and calico bass.

MALIBU– The shop held an Uptown Derby and failed to weigh a fish for the second derby in a row, reported Wylie’s. The group made good catches of smaller models but failed to post a fish over a pound. A few of the better models were ripe, a good sign of the spawn but the big hens have been noticeably absent. The group fished several beaches from Santa Barbara to Point Mugu. Some chunky yellowfin croakers were also in the mix. A stretch of fair weather and a bit of warmer water may be what the doctor ordered. Halibut anglers scratched at some smaller fish on Malibu beaches. A few better models were hooked and lost off the old Charthouse. With a second grunion run set for this week, look for the halibut bite to improve in numbers and in sizes.  North of Malibu at both Thorne Broomhill State Beach and Leo Carrillo several 2+ pound barred surfperch and one small corbina was taken….all on fresh mussel.

REDONDO BEACH– On the better days, Hermosa Beach was the spot to take a limit of barred perch, reported Just Fishing. The grub bite has been good with motor oil/gold flake and clear/red flake colors working well. Gulp! 2-inch Sandworms, lugworms, bloodworms and mussel are also producing. Anglers also report good schools on El Segundo and Manhattan beaches. Lots of fish in the 4- to 6- inch range with a few kickers over a pound. With better weather in the forecast look for this bite to steadily improve. Halibut anglers have also been looking for better weather and improved conditions. On the better days, a few legal fish to 25-inches were posted. Flash Minnows and slow rolled Krocodiles have been the top baits. A second grunion run this week will help the cause. Cold water temps may be the culprit. A couple of legal halibut were also taken in King Harbor. Cut anchovy fished on the stronger tide movements has been the ticket. The rock hoppers off PV have been scoring some nice sargo on mussel fished along the reef.  You’ll find a good bite on 1-2lb yellowfin croaker between the Hermosa pier and Redondo breakwater.  Long casts of 1/2 and 3/4th ounce chrome/red Krocodiles are doing the trick.

SEAL BEACH– A good croaker bite has been developing off Bolsa Chica and Huntington Beach, according to Big Fish. The fish are schooled outside the breakers and taking lugworms, bloodworms and ghost shrimp baiting a single or double dropper loop rig. The yellowfin have been ranging from 1- to 3-pounds. A few of the spotfin have been pushing the 4-pound mark. Ghost shrimp has been the best bait to target the spotfin. The barred perch bite has also been solid. Most anglers post an easy limit but few fish are over ¾- pound. Gulp! Sandworms and bloodworms have been top baits. With uneven weather, the halibut bite was slow this week. The grunion ran strong in and around LA Harbor. The halibut should be showing in numbers at any time. A few just legal fish were taken inside Alamitos Bay on cut anchovy. The better fishing was the bay bass bite. Anglers working small swimbaits and Zoom Flukes around the jetty rock and pilings reported taking good numbers of spotted bay bass and sand bass.

NEWPORT BEACH– Barred perch were the best bet along this stretch, according to Ketcham Tackle. On the better weather days, anglers posted easy limits of fish ranging from 4- to 6- inches with a few better kickers. The grub bite has been good with motor oil and root beer colors working well. A few better quality fish over the 1-pound mark were taken near the Wedge. The street jetties and River Jetties were other good stretches. Halibut anglers scratched at bites in less than ideal conditions. Cold water upwelling out of Newport Canyon has kept water temps in the mid-50s. Look for a vast improvementwith better weather, warmer water and more grunion runs. The long rodders have been scoring a mix of yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, sargo and barred perch soaking bloodworms or lugworms along the street jetties. In calm conditions, a carolina rig has been best, in surf, a dropper loop rig has been best. The bay bass bite is waking up in Newport Harbor. Anglers found good fishing working the docks and moorings near the Pavilion.

DANA POINT— More halibut have been showing in the surf line following the first grunion run of the year, reported Hogan’s. Unfortunately most have been short. No legal fish were reported but conditions were tough with breeze and swell. Another grunion run this week and a forecast of good weather should facilitate the movement of more and better quality fish. Flash Minnows have been a top search bait. On the better days anglers posted easy limits of barred perch. The best quality fish have been taken off Strands and Salt Creek where a few fish over a pound were reported. The bite has also been good south of the San Clemente Pier. But here the fish have been smaller. Grubs, Gulp!, lugworms, bloodworms and market shrimp have all been working. Yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, shiner perch and small leopard sharks were also in the catch. A few large size leopard sharks were taken off Doheny on a whole squid fished on a sliding siker rig.

OCEANSIDE— Weak tides, cold water and dicey weather put the kibosh on the lagoon halibut bite, reported Pacific Coast. The bite on the beach also slowed. The persistent cold water, languishing in the mid 50s has also been a problem. A stretch of fair weather, warm air temperatures and another grunion run should shake the funk. The dredging in Carlsbad Lagoon continues. The barred perch bite was a best bet along this stretch. Despite the weather anglers still posted limits of fish ranging from 4- to 6-inches. A carolina rigged grub or Gulp! Sandworm have been top artificials. Lugworms, mussel and cut salted anchovy has also been producing. Oceanside Harbor Jetty, the Army/Navy Academy and south Carlsbad have been good places to look. The stretch of beach below the harbor has been good for a mix of yellowfin and spotfin croakers. Casting a heavy sinkered dropper loop outside the breakers has been key to finding a school. Most of the fish have been ranging from 1- to 3-pounds. Anglers working small plastics in the harbor are taking a few bass and smaller halibut on the stronger tides.

SOLANA BEACH— Mission Beach continues to crank out limits of barred perch. Most fish are palm-size to hand-size with a few better kickers. Gulp! 2-inch sandworms have been a top bait. Carolina rigged grubs are also working well. Other good perch catches were reported from Del Mar, Torrey Pines and Imperial Beach. Some of the better quality fish have been coming off structure. A few legal halibut were reported taken off Ponto on Flash Minnows. The fish are scattered and the bites are hard to come by. Hopefully a stetch of better weather, another grunion run and the gradual warming of the water will kick start the halibut bite. The long rodders scored some chunky spotfin off Table Tops. Ghost shrimp has been the top bait for fish up to 4-pounds. Incoming high tides have been best.

What to look for this Month:  Synopsis: And so it begins…here comes the first real swells from the south with clear warm water, grunion runs, spawning halibut and summer, right around the corner.  April often comes in with lots of wind and exits with the Southern California Coastal Eddy, fog and soft winds from the southwest. Both the storms and swells from Alaska’s Aluetian Islands will begin to die off and be replaced by warm, clear water carried by South swells North. This is the month you’ll begin to see sand crabs in greater numbers each week….and by the time the month is over we should be catching halibut, perch, corbina and croaker.

Tides: Some really good tides around the new and full moon (11th & 26th).  Tides throughout the month of April have some very good water movement with the best time for halibut tides being April 15-21.

Water Temps: South 59, North 53 (Down)  Water temps have been about 3-4 degrees lower than last year at this time.  Temps have been higher, by about this much, for the last seven years due to the El Nino.  Look for these cooler temps to enhance the sand crab populations…and don’t be surprised in Aug and Sept. that the perch and corbina are bigger and fatter from this crab power boost.

Winds: April is often a windy month and subsides near month end.  Light morning winds with fog, at times.  During the 2nd week of April afternoon winds and one of the last winter storms of the season will push out of the West at 12-20 knots.  Look for the weather to change to a mostly Southwest morning breeze and fog…by month’s end.

Swell: We are right in the middle of our first South Swell originating near New Zealand.  Next week we’ll see a 180 degree change with swells from the Northwest…followed by a bit of cold water and a return near month end of swells from the South and the beginning of a long series of summer South swells.

Compiled by Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney  

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