California grunion are the object of a unique Southern California recreational fishery. These small, silvery fish are famous for their remarkable spawning behavior, which evokes an "I don't believe it!" response from people seeing or hearing about it for the first time.
Grunion leave the water at night to spawn on beaches during the spring and summer months. For four consecutive nights, beginning on the nights of the full and new moons, spawning occurs after high tides and continues for several hours.The easily predictable runs are presented in table format in this annual CDFW brochure. Spawning occurs from March through August, and occasionally in February and September. Peak spawning is late March to early June.
The schedule is used not only by spectators and fishermen, but also by coastal construction and beach grooming personnel in order to avoid interfering with this species' reproduction and survival of the eggs. Fishermen should review fishing regulations before planning a fishing trip - in particular, note that the fishery is closed during April and May.
During the open season, a fishing license is required for persons 16 years and older to capture grunion. Grunion may be taken by sport fishermen using hands only. No holes may be dug in the beach to entrap them. There is no bag limit, but fishermen may take only what they can use -- it is unlawful to waste fish.
While grunion spawn on many beaches in Southern California, the Department of Fish and Wildlife does not recommend any particular beach because of changing safety conditions and local curfews.
One of the best ways to find out which beaches have had recent runs is to call the state and county beach lifeguards who can often tell if spawning has taken place. There is a grunion program offered to the public at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro on several nights of the season. Call (310) 548-7562 for details. For more information about grunion, read