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

April 2024 

     Wow, April comes in like a lion and goes out like one.  All the while sandwiched in the middle was great surf fishing…summer style fishing!

     Fishing from Santa Barbara to San Diego was nothing less that great in March with the bite slowing down the last few days due to damage done by the wind.  Most noticable was the corbina bite slowing but considering the torrid pace of fish in February it only makes sense that they would slow down a bit.  The halibut bite really turned on in March and was fueled by grunion that a covered the beaches from Ventura to the Mexican border.

      Warm water in Ventura and Santa Barbara lead to consistent fishing for perch along East Beach.  Up north a bit, anglers have found halibut both south of the Goleta Pier and at the end of Las Pasitas Rd. along Hope Ranch.  They reported that fishing the high tide edges, filling in around rock piles, was the secret to their success. Ventura has had some great perch fishing near the jetties south of “C” Street.  2″ red and red and motoroil Big Hammer grubs have been working well on barred surfperch to 16″.

     Malibu anglers reported some great walleye perch fishing at Leo Carrillo using lug worms on the beach north of the entrance.  El Matador Beach anglers reported good calico bass fishing using strips of squid along the rock point.  Their secret to not getting snagged was using a very light sinker.  Another good option when surf fishing in rocky areas is to use a small clear bobber filled 1/2 the way with water.  This suspends your bait just above the rocks and allows you to retrieve it slowly toward shore, with an irresistible action.

     The South Bay was a star in March.  Several huge grunion spawns went on in both Redondo Beach and Venice.  I think the Venice spawn had more grunion than I’ve ever seen!  The day after the spawn several 20+” stripers were pulled from the surf near Marina Del Rey/Balona Creek.  Down the beach a bit in Hermosa one angler pulled in a 20″ corbina, apparently fooled by a 110 Lucky Craft.

     Huntington Beach has been active with great perch fishing at both Bolsa Chica and the Cliffs.  Several nice yellowfin croaker were in the count last week caught on various (chartreuse, silver, chrome) Kastmasters last week.

     Newport Beach jetties, right after the grunion runs has been the hotspot for halibut.  Along with big perch taken on mussel and hardbaits, Newport has also kicked out several legal halibut, in the last two weeks, caught on Lucky Craft 110, Glow Cherry BattleStar Lures, grubs and one on Gulp!  Look for both perch fishing and halibut fishing around the Newport jetties to remain excellent due to the grunion run and grunion fry in the surf.

     Crystal Cove last week produced several large leopard sharks to 30lbs.  Anglers have been using wire leaders (not needed with leopards) and cut squid.  A great alternative bait is 1/2 mackerel or bonito or side-sliced barred perch for bait.  Lepard shark fishing is especially good at night on an outgoing tide, beginning just after peak high tide.  A bit farther South in Orange County near San Onofre one angler bagged a 30″ halibut, his personal best, on a BattleStar hardbait.

     Not a lot of reports from San Diego but my die-hard buddies scratched out unlimited palm-sized barred surfperch, a couple small halibut and several yellowfin croaker along Torry Pines.  Also, good reports of lots of perch biting along Carlsbad State Beach, just below the stairs from the campground.

     High winds have raked the beaches the last few days and have really turned the water over.  I do believe it will be a few days before the turbidity tones down and the water warms up.  Look for that to begin this weekend and continue through the remainder of the month.

     In large part it seems to me that everything is about one month early this year.  Rather than having to wait until May to begin getting our first swells from the south it looks like we will have up to four chance to experience swells from the south…swells that carry warm clear water north and bring sand crabs to the surface, just this month.

     March was a fantastic month for grunion.  Although the DFW has told us that the biomass of grunion has diminished and they need yet another no-take “observation” month including implementing a 30 fish limit, we can see the truth is to the contrary.  Thanks to hero anglers like Kevin Brown and a dozen other fisherman, I received video and photos from just about every major beach, from SB to SD, with massive grunion runs.  Here’s a look at one beach…

On this one beach, grunion came ashore for more than a quarter mile long and 50 yards wide.  No lack of grunion here and this was just one of a dozen beaches where they came ashore that we know of!

     Besides fishing before and after a grunion run, which is always a productive time as halibut, perch and white seabass come in close to feed, it’s also a good time to fish these same areas about 12 days after a run.  Why?  Because this is when the hatch begins.  Twelve days after the run, grunion eggs are ready to hatch.  So 12 days out, when the night’s high tide fills in, grunion eggs break loose from the sand and the small grunion (just a big eye and a tail) are released into the surf.  This huge number of tiny fry provide fantastic forage for big surf fish.

     So, when it comes to halibut fishing here are my top tips:

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 12 days after their spawn to take advantage of the grunion fry hatch.

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.

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

PLEASE keep them coming!




You’ll find DuraScent Products in our Store


What To Look For This Month

The circled storm is the first in a series of four storms in the South Pacific which will send South swells with warm clear water our way and enhance our surf fishing.


April is often a transition month and this year…a bit ahead of itself, is not an exception.  We will experience diminishing swells from the Northwest this month and increasing swells from the South.  Most Southern swells in April will be generated  some 6,000 nautical miles from our coast. Later in April, near month end,  we will begin to see swells come from our neighbor, Mexico, with most originating near Veracruz.  Hurricane swells from Mexico will run from May until early October.

     With diminishing winds from the Northwest and increasing swells in April from the South, this is the beginning of the summer surf fishing season.  Warmer water, especially areas that are 60 degrees and above will begin to see large numbers of spawning sand crabs.  This spawn will draw fish closer to shore as they forage on the small crabs.  It’s also a good time to employ the “smorgasbord” technique of using three or four small sand crabs on the hook at the same time.

     As we move closer to June and later in the month, expect to see the larger perch drop off and both spotfin and corbina catches to heat up.  This month will also be a fantastic period for halibut fishing as the butts are in close to shore for their Spring spawn and the numerous grunion runs this month.

     Take one last look at your gear this month and be sure to prepare your tackle for the summer.  Great, fast and furious fishing will soon be upon us and you want to be ready.  There is no need to spend useless time at the beach fixing your gear when the fish are biting!

Grunion Run Schedule for 2024 

  • Observation Months 2024: April, May, June 

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 webpage.
  • 4/8 Mon  9:50 pm – 11:50 pm
  • 4/9 Tue  10:25 pm – 12:25 am
  • 4/10 Wed  11:00 pm – 1:00 am
  • 4/11 Thu  11:40 pm – 1:40 am
  • 4/23 Tue  9:30 pm – 11:30 pm
  • 4/24 Wed  9:55 pm – 11:55 pm
  • 4/25 Thu  10:20 pm – 12:20 am
  • 4/26 Fri  10:50 pm – 12:50 am

Water Temperature:  55 North, 59 South (lower) Water temperature dropped over the last few days as a result of strong westerly winds.  Look for the water temp to rebound and be over 60 degrees by month’s end.  Although West winds may affect the local water temperature, April has up to four South swells, which will push warm clear water North.

Tides:   April has some fantastic tides with two astronomical tide swings around the new moon on 4/7 and the full moon on 4/23.  There will be some exceptional grunion runs around these tides and no doubt halibut fishing will be good too.  Please remember that April, May and June are “observation months” and you may not take…or even touch the sacred grunion during those months.

     The 14th-20th and 28th-5/4 look to be great halibut fishing periods with slack tide and little water movement.  These conditions are always ideal for halibut fishing in the surf.

Winds:   Yesterday’s winds topped 35mph over the near shore but those winds are behind us for at least a week.  Heavy winds like those experienced the last few days will always turn over the water and increase it’s turbidity and drop temps.

     Starting Saturday and into next week we should see light offshore morning winds followed by afternoon winds to 15mph from the West.  Later this month expect the wind direction to change from NW to SW.  This wind change signals the beginning of the marine layer and warmer winds across the ocean surface helping to maintain and raise water temperature near the surface.  A great way to keep abreast of the wind change, signaling the beginning of summer surf fishing, is to check out www.HBCAMS.com and watch the flags go from a West breeze to a Southwest breeze…changing the flag from pointing south to pointing toward the North.

Swell:    As mentioned above, this is a crazy unusual swell month.  Traditionally, the California coast begins to receive swells from the South sometime after May 1, and often in early June…but not this year.  We’ve already had several small South swells and their numbers will begin to increase this month.

     April’s California coast will have both swells crashing from the Northwest and swells coming from the South Pacific.  As the NW swells begin to peter out over the last two weeks of April, look for the smaller South swells to take over and water temperature to rise. 


The recent rain has increased the risk of high bacteria levels in the surf-zone from runoff. As a reminder, there is an increased risk of high bacteria levels for at least 72 hours following any measurable rain-event (usually 0.1″ or more) during which time water contact should be avoided.


A number of hazards are affecting the coastal region from the passing storms including flooding and flash flooding.  NOAA has issued warnings and advisories to stay out of the water and up onto the sand.

Follow Pacific Hurricanes Here:

(hurricanes will begin again in June)


Good luck and good Fishng!


Surf fishing reports compiled by

 Bill Varney

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