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   Southern California Surf Fishing Report

May 2024 

     April is often a windy transition month and this year was no different than seasons past.  Wind, rain and swells from every direction took aim at Southern California beaches.  But even with all of the weather activity, fishing remained steady, water warmed and surf fishing continues to improve.

     This month, look for the water temperture to increase each week and the number of sand crabs on the surface of the sand to explode.  Warmer water, coming later this month, should reach 64 degrees which means that crabs will be losing their shells, spawning with billions of eggs and creating a frenzy with corbina, spotfin and perch, all wanting some of the action.

     Powered by April’s grunion runs it was a month for the halibut.  They were reported from SB to SD with many legals…all the way up to 35″ taken between the runs.  The hot bait was just about anything white.  Swimbaits and flukes were doing the trick.  Fish were found on both sandy and rocky beaches.  With one of the biggest begin pulled from the eel grass and reef, just offshore Malibu.

     Santa Barbara beaches continue to clear up with an ongoing red tide that looks to be finally dissipating.  Several halibut were caught along the Goleta coast near Hope Ranch with decent perch and yellowfin croaker fishing from the Wharf to the East Beach Bath House.  This time of year has always produced good halibut fishing just South of the Bath House and along the beach in the White Mansion to Haskell’s stretch.  Calico bass have also been showing for the long rodders and kayakers just off East Beach.  Carpinteria is beginning to heat up for perch anglers, with very little if any, pressure on the fish.  Those looking to catch some huge barred perch need to concentrate on the rocks South of Carpinteria State Beach, near the oil pier.  Medium tide with short leadered and light egg sinker casts to the rocks just offshore.

       Santa Monica to Torrance was slower this month with just a few reports of palm-sized perch caught along the beach and a handful of 20+” stripers caught in the Venice beach and Del Mar areas after the grunion runs.  Both live grunion and BattleStar Lucky Craft hardbaits worked best for striper.  Also of note, striper were biting best at mid night high tides in these areas.

     Orange County again was the highlighted surf fishing spot for the month of April.  Handfuls of legal halibut from Belmont Shore to San Clemente were taken.  Calico bass and a few small sand bass were taken in rocky areas.  Along with fantastic fishing for corbina and yellowfin croaker along the Huntington Cliffs to Huntington Harbor area.  Leopard sharks to 30lbs were caught near most every jetty in North Orange county.  Most on cut surfperch or chunks of mackerel.

     North OC also saw an influx of smaller schooling white seabass.  Many taken on hardbaits and white flukes.  Seabass were reported along both the Newport Jetties and near the Bolsa Chica outlet.  I’ve personally seen a 5+’ white seabass swim into the Bolsa Chica wetlands and know that this time of year they transit into and out of the back bay.  Although I’ve received no reports from the Los Alamitos Bay, Huntington Harbor or Newport Back Bay, I know these areas are loaded with spotfin croaker and big corbina that are getting ready to head out of the bay and onto the beach.  If you have a chance to pump ghost shrimp from each one of these areas and fish there, you have an outstanding chance to catch a big sptofin/corbina and even have a shot at a legal halibut.

     San Diego has had good surf fishing all of April but very few sand crabs to report.  Much of the beaches in North-Central county are rocky and this tends to decrease the number of spawning crabs.  Look for this to improve over the next couple of months as sand returns to the beach with each South swell.

     Good reports of yellowfin croaker, perch and a few corbina have been coming in, reported in the last few days, so it does look like conditions are improving.  Halibut fishing remains good near the jetties and estuary entrances.  Fantastic fishing for corvina has been reported inside San Diego’s back harbor where anglers fishing the rocks and beaches have been limiting after dark.  This month, look for the traditional areas like Carlsbad State Beach, Torrey Pines, Cardiff, Mission Beach and Silver Strand to pick up.  Warm, clear water is coming this way from the South and it won’t be long until the corbina go wide open!

     Thank you Jeff, Brian, Kevin, John 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

Activity near New Zealand will bring a series of South swells to Southern California over the next three weeks


El Nino’s Velella Wind Sailors Cover The Beach

     The month of May has always been the kickoff of summer surf fishing.  Warmer water means that not only are sand crabs going to flood the beach this month but when water temps rise surf fish, especially corbina and spotfin croaker, leave the harbors, estuaries and back bays and make their way out onto the open beach.

     We are expecting, at least, three storms from the South Pacific to send swells, warm and clear water our way this month.  Storms and disturbances from the North will end and morning winds from the Southwest will blow across the beach each day, settling in below the marine layer.  These conditions will lead to an outbreak of sand crabs, warmer water and a wide variety of fish feeding in the surf.  Look for grunion runs to enhance the seabass and halibut fishing…keeping in mind that light-color and white hardbaits, swimbaits and flukes, fished dropshot have been successful.

     Sand crabs will proliferate the beach and those anglers wishing to catch the biggest corbina will find that a soft-shell sand crab fished on the Carolina Rig will be the key to success.  Corbina, keen with their eyesight, means that as you hunt for them along the beach they may see you before you see them.  To help with the hunt invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses and you’ll have a much better shot at sneaking up on them before they sneak away from you.

     Grunion Run Schedule for 2024 

  • Observation Months 2024: April, May, June
  • MAY–Observation Month Only
  • 5/7 Tue  9:15 pm – 11:15 pm 
  • 5/8 Wed  9:50 pm – 11:50 pm
  • 5/9 Thu  10:30 pm – 12:30 am
  • 5/10 Fri  11:10 pm – 1:10 am
  • 5/23 Thu  9:30 pm – 11:30 pm
  • 5/24 Fri  10:00 pm – 12:00 am
  • 5/25 Sat  10:40 pm – 12:40 am
  • 5/26 Sun  11:20 pm – 1:20 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 webpage.
  • 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.

Water Temperature:  57 North, 65 South (warmer) Wow, crazy water temps with 65 degree water in San Clemente (most of OC and LA between 60-62) with Ventura and Santa Barbara waters in the 57-59 range.  Look for water temperture to climb over the month of May…especially with a scheduled three South swells coming this way.  Also be aware that over the next few weeks we will have a couple of last-ditch disturbances from the North which may push water temps down for a couple of days.  Water temperature has a lot to do with sand crabs so once the temp is over 60 consistently and we reach 62 degrees, look for sand crabs to be on the surface near the high tide mark and for them to begin losing their shells.
Tides:   The second week in May (5/5 – 5/11) and the fourth week (5/19- 5/25) have some large tidal movements wrapped around the new moon on May 7 and the full moon on May 23.  Mother’s Day week and the last week of the month feature neap tides and should be good for halibut fishing, in between grunion runs.  Keep in mind, during the full moon period surf fishing is often better in the afternoon.
Winds:  Although we’ll see clear skies after this weekend’s possible rain, May 6-8 will have strong afternoon winds to 25mph followed late next week with a 180 turnaround and offshore Santa Ana winds.  May is generally less windy, more foggy and mornings have a light SW wind followed by 10-15mph afternoon winds from the NW.  Look for this pattern to change twice during the month with heavy winds but revert right back to a breeze from the Southwest and ideal surf fishing conditions.
Swell:    Although we continue to get pulses from the Northwest, our winter season is dying off and being replaced with traditional spring/summer swell patterns.  Early May will include swells from the NW with a bit of up-welling to cool local waters.  This will be replaced with, what looks like three swells, coming from the South Pacific.  All three of these swell series will bring warm clear water into Southern California beaches and continue to upgrade our surf fishing.

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