What a Catch! Southern California Grunion Season Is Officially On

Find out where and when to “grunion run.”

Each March, those sardine-sized fish called grunion start popping up in masses on California beaches. There are two kinds of grunions, the Californian and the Gulf. While the Californian only appear on Pacific Coast beaches, the Gulf variety also turns up on the gulf side of Baja in Mexico. For some, they are delicious. For others, they are a diversion.

According to California Beaches, “the grunions’ mating habits make them very easy to catch. That’s why you’ll find many organized events called “grunion runs,” in which all people 16 years and older, with a valid fishing license, are allowed to come to the beaches and grab as many grunion as they wish (if under 16 no license is required). With thousands of grunion on the beaches, there is no shortage of fish to catch. However, for the sake of environmental responsibility, grunion run participants are encouraged to catch only what they need. California law forbids the waste of fish. Fishing licenses can be purchased online from the Deptartment of Fish & Wildlife, but it’s quicker and easier to get from a local store.

“For the best runs, look for the fish after new or full moons. The grunion are most likely to surface after the highest tides, and the largest numbers of fish generally come about an hour after a run has begun. Avoid using flashlights, as the illumination can scare away the fish. Try to limit your use of flashlights to times after waves have receded. Regulations require that the fish be caught only by hand; no tools may be used. Digging holes in the sand as traps is also forbidden.”

Check out this year’s grunion run schedule and where to find them here.

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