Grunion Runs – Fishing With Your Hands In San Diego

Fishing is peaceful and inspiring sport regardless of the type of fishing your doing. Well, with one exception – grunion runs.

El Grunionino

Throughout the year, the fish known as the grunion run in San Diego and much of California. This little silver fish reproduces by “running” up the beach during the high tide in the middle of the night. Literally thousands of the fish simply come storming up the beach with the waves to lay their eggs in the wet sand. It kind of looks like the beginning of a triathalon except the participants are going the wrong way and are pregnant.

The fish picked up their name from Spanish settlers because of, well, the grunting noise the make when doing their thing. It is a bit saucy now that I think about it. Anyway, the grunion averages five inches in length and has a silvery hue that shows in the moonlight. With thousands in the water, it looks like the a really fat person wearing way to many sequins while dancing to disco music.

You’re Inner Barbarian

“Fishing” for grunion requires you to get in touch with your inner barbarian. Under California law, you are not allowed to use bait, hooks, poles, nets or anything. Instead, you must physically catch the grunion with your hands. This, of course, results in you and others running around the beach like a crab while trying to snatch the grunions. They are exceedingly quick and slippery. You’ll be huffing and puffing before you know it.

Grunion are an extremely plentiful fish, but there are still rules to follow. As mentioned above, you have to go mano-a-fisho. No poles, nets or other items can be used. Second, you have to get a fishing license from the California Department of Fish and Game. Third, you can only go grunion hunting from May to September, the legal season in the area.

If you think getting in touch with your inner fishing barbarian sounds like a good time, here is the scoop on good spots. In San Diego, you should hit the beaches in Del Mar, La Jolla, Mission Beach or in front of the Hotel Del Coronado. These are all high end areas, which means the grunion must have excellent taste.

Running around the beach like a madman can be tiring. Bringing along fluids [okay, beer] is highly recommended.

Rick Chapo is with Nomad Writing Journals. Fly fishing journals are the perfect fly fishing gifts for fly fishing trips and fly fishing vacations. Visit for more fly fishing articles and stories.

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