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   Southern California Surf Fishing Report

July 2024 

     “Very good and getting better every day”  That’s what many folks have told me over the last few days…and with the reports I’ve been getting there is no doubt that fish in the surf from SD to SB are biting full speed.  Better water conditions, including clear and warmer water, have really helped to improve the bite.  There is no doubt also, that the gigantic abundance of sand crabs and the odor of their eggs have driven surf fish into a crazy feeding mode.

     In addition to the sand crabs, the influence of grunion runs have brought big fish near shore.  Two July runs (around July 5th and 21st) will flood the beach with grunion and draw seabass, halibut and stripers near shore.  The runs so far this year have been phenomenal and the reports of fish caught during and after these runs has been impressive.  Little chance that this will change and I highly recommend that you watch the tides and runs and fish during these dates.  You’ll find post on Facebook and Instagram on pages like California Surf Fishing, West Coast Surf Fishing and Santa Barbara Surf Fishing information to help you find where the grunion came ashore.  Take advantage of this time as the runs will peter out next month and be over by September.

Santa Barbara:  Ventura and Santa Barbara have continued to improve as warmer, clear, non-red tide conditions continue to fill in.  The big difference between Ventura to the north and every place south, is that the warm water has not made it past Pt. Mugu.  Most of the swells from the south have not been strong enough to push a huge plum of warm water north but any day now the Mexico hurricane machine will ramp up and catches will heat up.

     With that said, there is still quite a bit of good fishing in the Santa Barbara area with striper showing at Leadbetter Beach, East Beach and Jalama.  Great reports of several white seabass being caught along More Mesa Beach near Goleta with a couple of legals and numerous fish in the mix.  Best baits there have been (for both the striper and seabass) BattleStar and Lucky Craft 110 minnows.  One of the legal seabass came on cut anchovy with a couple of smaller fish caught on cut strip squid (cut 1″ wide and fished trailing off the end of the hook).

     Perch and yellowfin croaker continue to be caught around the base of The Wharf during low tide.  With some of the best bites on yellowfin being at night.  This area may be fished by casting jigs (like a 1/2 ounce kastmaster) or using the Carolina Rig with a sand crab/lug/blood worm.  This is a fun place to fish with easy access for disabled and kids as the parking lot is just south of The Wharf and the beach is flat with small surf.

South Bay:  Corbina have infiltrated our border and we must do something!  Goodness, the south bay, especially Hermosa, Manhattan and just north of the Santa Monica Pier have been kicking out corbina like there no tomorrow.  Sand crabs are plentiful and the corbina are responding as they move in close to shore to forage and begin their spawning cycle.

     Yellowfin croaker have been abundant caught on the Carolina Rig with mussel, worms and sand crabs.  Perch are also in the mix with many palm-sized school barred perch being landed.

Orange County:  Corbina everywhere, spotfin biting along the estuaries and striper at Crystal Cover?  What the heck…grab your rod and get down there!

     Surf fishing in the OC has been great for months.  Bolsa Chica has been kicking out some big corbina and spotfin with the occasional halibut near the south jetty.  Perch fishing is almost always good here for a nice variety of palm-sized barred and walleye perch.  Bloodworm/Lugworms and soft-shell sand crabs have been the primary baits with a nice big spotfin caught this week on a ghost shrimp.  Look for fishing here to continue good and please remember to fish both in the early morning (sunrise) and in the afternoon, after 4pm.  The beach clears out later in the day, the wind calms down and the fish are hungry.  Don’t be afraid to go fishing from 4pm until dark.  I’ve caught some of my biggest fish in both July and August in the evening.

     From Seal Beach to the Mexican border keep your eyes peeled for breaking fish as striper will be pushing up bait balls (anchovy, sardine and grunion).  Fish striper with a heavier (3/4-1 ounce) spoon (krocadile/kastmaster) and also with hard baits (BattleStar/Lucky Craft) and strip squid or anchovy fished on the Carolina Rig.  Striper often feed later in the day and at night so don’t be surprised if you get into them well after dark.

San Diego County:  With tons of warm water much of the red tide has cleared in San Diego County and the fishing is red hot.  Perch, corbina, spotfin, yellowfin, corvina, halibut and an amazing amount of stripers have been caught in just the last two weeks.  It’s amazing…striper from SB to SD and DFG (in the early 1970’s) planted thousands in Newport and Huntington Harbor are finally coming back to roost?  I’ll never understand the ocean and it’s mysterious ways.

     Prolific schools of palm-sized barred surfperch are everywhere.  Wide open bites that may make it hard for your crab to make it to a corbina.  Be sure to change your bait often if you get bit by perch and move in order to “hunt” for corbina and get in front of the perch.

  More striper catches have been reported in the Torrey Pines area…but let’s not forget the San Diego back bay and Mission bay where bonefish have been caught on ghostshrimp and 4″ swimbaits…and the SD back bay where Captain Al Clowers has been putting folks on orange mouth corvina for weeks.

     There’s some amazing fishing on both the beach and bay right now so dang it, get you stuff together and hustle on down there!

Thank you Jeff, Brian, Michael, John and to all the anglers for their great reports and photos…

PLEASE keep them coming!




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What To Look For This Month

This cyclone, breaking of Antarctica will push 4-6′ swells on to California beaches just in time for the 4th of July.


     July is often a month with increasing south swells, that at times, can be powerful and beach changing.  Traditionally, the marine layer will burn off more quickly in the morning and you can bet that it will be mostly clear with an onshore wind at noon followed by stronger winds, then around 4pm, a calming breeze after 5pm. 

     Early morning fishing is at it’s very best for the next three months with a great bite also in the evenings.  Be aware that you may fish in the morning, and it will be slow followed by a feverish bite late in the afternoon…at the same spot!  Be sure to try your spots at both the early (sunrise) morning and in the evenings.  I’ve had some of my best fishing, and biggest spotfin croaker during the evening bite.

     This is also a transition month with a combination of swells coming from the South Pacific and Mexico.  Look for tropical storms and hurricanes to heat up along the Mexico/Baja coast over the next few weeks.  With the water temp over 70 degrees already, a series of storms will surely continue to clear our water, bring fish close to shore to forage and influence the water warming process.

     This upcoming 4th of July week is going to have some strong swells, originating in the South Pacific, to brush along our beaches.  Look for changes caused by sand movement and the formation of new troughs and holes.  The spot you fished last week may be completely changed by next weekend…keep this in mind and continue to look for changes in the bottom structure where you fish.  Be careful when fishing the jetties, as this swell will have an occasional rouge swell that is much larger and could knock you from the rocks.  After finding my spot on the jetty, I always look back and plan my “escape” route, just in case a rogue wave comes my way!

     Grunion Run Schedule for 2024 

  • Observation Months 2024: April, May, June
  • 7/5 Fri  9:25 pm – 11:25 pm
  • 7/6 Sat  10:05 pm – 12:05 am
  • 7/7 Sun  10:40 pm – 12:40 am
  • 7/8 Mon  11:20 pm – 1:20 am
  • 7/21 Sun  9:45 pm – 11:45 pm
  • 7/22 Mon  10:30 pm – 12:30 am
  • 7/23 Tue  11:20 pm – 1:20 am
  • 7/24 Wed  12:05 am – 2:05 am*
  • Collection Months 2024: July and August (Limit 30)  Halibut often feed near shore before, during and after a run
  • Here’s a note from the CA-DFW:

There is a no-take seasonal closure of California grunion from 12 A.M. Monday, April 1, 2024, through 11:59 P.M. Sunday, June 30, 2024. Throughout the seasonal closure, grunion may only be observed, they may not be touched, handled or taken. During the open season, California grunion may be taken by hand only and the bag and possession limit is 30 fish per person. For more information, including a schedule of expected grunion runs and observation-only times for 2024, visit CDFW’s grunion web page.

  • Surf Fishing Tips Around Grunion Runs
  • 1.  Always look for halibut around/adjacent to structure (jetties, offshore rocks, harbor entrances, estuary entrances, docks, etc.)

    2.  Find where the grunion came in and fish there up to two weeks after a run.

    3.  Find where the grunion came in and fish there 10-12 days after their spawn to take advantage of the grunion fry hatch and return to sea.

    4.  Get to know the lifeguard or warden on your favorite beach and ask them were the grunion came ashore.

    5.  Fish for halibut with artificials like BattleStar Lures, Lucky Craft, Krocodiles, Kastmasters, Grubs.  Fish halibut with live or fresh dead baits like mussel lip, sardine, anchovy, smelt and grunion.

Tropical storms forming near Veracruz Mexico will soon be sending swell and warm-clear water this way

Water Temperature:  69 South and 63 North (up).  Water temps continue to climb in the south but seem to lag from Ventura north.  I would guess this is primarily because we have not had a significant south swells to push the warm water further north. Significant storm activity is heating up off the southern Mexico border that should bring a series of swells this way.  The South Pacific continues to produce cyclones that send long distance swells (6,000 miles away!) this way.  Both sources combined, should improve the water temperature up north.

Tides:  Overall, July has some great tides.  July 5th will be the new moon with several days of grunion runs.  Later in the month the full moon falls on Sunday July 21st with a total tide movement of 8.2′ over the day…one of the biggest of the year.  This tide is sure to have a huge grunion presence.  Look for grunion on both the 5th and the 21st to be before midnight.  Mid-month looks great for fishing halibut with much smaller tide swings and dark nights.  Also remember, this is one of the best times of the year to fish the bay or docks at night.  Look for high tide periods (before and after the slack, as you’ll need current) and fish along docks, pilings, piers, etc. for sand, calico and spotted bay bass.  One of the best baits is any grub or swimbait style (2″-5″) in black or dark blue.  Night time fishing seems to be much better with dark lures that cast a shadow in low light.  If fishing docks just drop your line to just above the bottom and walk slowly down the dock.  For casting situations try to get as near structure as possible…this is where the big fish lurk.

Winds:  Look for little change in wind conditions with light morning offshore or southwest winds and afternoon breezes 10-15 knots out of the west.  Most winds will settle down in the evening making for some good sunset surf sessions.

Swell:    From the south, both Australia and Antarctica continue to spin off cyclones that are producing the swells we’ve been seeing for the last month.  Over the next few days the first of a series of storms and hurricanes will form off the coast of Veracruz Mexico and begin to send swells this way.  In the meantime, look for a growing south swell from Australia to put lifeguards to the test over the 4th of July week.  Surf will increase to above head high later next week and make for some treacherous conditions.  Be sure to watch yourself along the sand and on the rocks.  This event may have some very large rouge swells.

     The first half of July should have two swells hitting our shore beginning Monday from the south.  At this point, because of quickly changing conditions below the border, we are not sure when the first swells from Mexico will be coming our way….so the second half of the month is in question as Mexico begins to add to the equation.  Be sure to check out eebmike.com below to watch the hurricanes form and send swells this way.

          Follow Pacific Hurricanes Here:

(hurricanes will begin again in June)


Good luck and good Fishing!


Surf fishing reports compiled by

 Bill Varney

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