December 2023 Surf Fishing Report

 Southern California Surf Fishing Report

December 2023

     November went out with a bang!  Just off the beach and water temps were still around 64 degrees.  I know this will change but it really helped November to be a fantastic surf fishing month as witnessed by the pictures attached.

     December always brings changes in weather, swell and current that slows fishing.  This is the month where the swells from Alaska set in and the current direction changes to down coast.

     As water temps cool this month look for fish to congregate near jetties, harbor walls and structure.  Concentrate your efforts on these areas.

     Begin by downsizing your rig.  Use as light as a 1/8th ounce sinker and a short 12″ leader.  Fish as close to the rocks as possible and always be tight to your sinker because many fish will take you back into the rocks.

      December’s best baits include worms, shrimp, mussel, clams and sidewinder crabs.  Most sand crabs will be gone from the beach and fish will be foraging for food that is washed from the rocks.  This is why fishing near where rock meets sand is so important…this is where the fish are.

     Spotfin, yellowfin, walleye surfperch, barred surf perch and calico surfperch will all be plentiful near structure areas over the next three months.  When catching big females laden with young place them gently back into the water so they can continue to reproduce.

     Remember, most swells will now be coming from the west/northwest so review your favorite south facing beaches and fish there.  The edges of such areas generally hold fish because of the eddy current created by westerly swells.

     December also offers some great chances to fish places you can not often reach.  Around both the new and full moon you’ll find some astronomical tides that will allow you to access around jetties, harbor walls, harbors, bays, etc. that you commonly can’t reach.  Land a ghost shrimp into one of these holes and hold on…that’s where the big one lives!

Bill Varney


Check out my new article in Fish Taco Chronicles:  Winter Perch Fishing For Slabs

Thank you Robert, Dan, Hills, Jaimie, Brian, 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

This week’s Alaska storm is just the beginning of swells and cooler water that will flood in along the coast over the next few months.  Look for water temps to cool and perch to grow larger.

Synopsis:  The south swells of summer are over and storms from Alaska are beginning to send impulses of swell energy this way.  This always signals the beginning of cooler winter water and current from the north and a change of the long-shore current from up the coast to down the coast.  This also signals the beginning of big barred perch fishing.

     Fish will now leave most of the open beach and find shelter near rocks, jetties, harbor entrances and inside harbors and bays.  Surf fish will also shy away from sand crabs and begin to look for mussel, clam, worms, shrimp and especially sidewinder crabs.

     Fish tight to rocks.  Cast from the beach along the edge of jetties and try to retreive your bait where rock meets sand…as this is where you’ll find the biggest fish.  When fishing from the rocks (like a jetty or harbor wall) downsize your egg sinker to 1/4th or even 1/8th ounce and shorten your 6-8lb flourocarbon leader to 12″.  Cast just beyond where rocks meet water.  Let your sinker to the bottom.  Reel up a bit, so you are just above the bottom.  You’re bait will swash in and out of the rock…and my friend, this is where the biggest fish live.  When your rod begins to load reel down and lift up because if you haven’t noticed you’re on!

Grunion Runs Are Over For 2023 

Observation Months 2024: March, April, May, June  Collection Months 2024: July and August (Limit 30)  Halibut often feed near shore before, during and after a run

Temp:  64 south, 61 north (a bit cooler).  Look for the water temperture to make a several degree drop this month as cool water floods in from the north.  That means it’s time to slow down your retrieve (both lures and bait) as fish, whose metabolism will slow too, are looking for a much slower presentation.

Tides:  (Don’t forget your CCA Sportfishing Tide Calendar HERE)  December has some amazing tides but it also often has amazing tides combined with very calm (both wind and surf) times that make fishing spots you normally can’t reach possible.  New moon occurs on December 12th and is preceded and followed by some amazing astronomical tides, with a tide movement of over 7 1/2′!  Not to be outdone the full moon on December 26th has 7.7′ tide swing!  Thats great at low tide for fishing around the end of jetties, harbor entrances and structure you normally can’t…and then again at high tide fishing areas along the beach where the tide is covering all the possible holes perch will hide in.

Winds:  December often has light or calm morning offshore winds followed by 10mph afternoon breezes.  We will experience several wet storms this month that are generally preceded by calms winds and followed by strong westerly breezes.  Santa Ana conditions are common from now until the first of the new year so take advantages of them to fish from jetties, rocks and near structure for the largest fish.

Swell:  You’re summer is over!  Most if not all swells and current will now, and for the next five months, come from the north.  Now is a good time to review your surf fishing spots that face south and plan dates for fishing those protected areas.  Move to the south side of jetties, breakwaters, structure now.  This is where fish (spotfin, yellowfin and perch) will congregate away from storm swells and in a perfect place for them to catch food washed from the rocks.

Follow Pacific Hurricanse Here:

     Good luck and good Fishing!

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney reporting…


Surf fishing reports compiled by

Gundy Gunderson and Bill Varney