It’s Grunion Groping Time

Annual grunion season getting underway with new moon

Cindy Spivak

The race is on -- for you and thousands of Grunions that will be laying their eggs on local beaches that night and for the next three nights afterward.

The first Grunion Run of 2010 takes place on Monday.

Grunions are small, silvery fish that are almost exclusively found only on the beaches of Southern California and Northern Baja. Each year between March and September they use the four nights of the highest tides to spawn.

As far back as anyone can remember folks have been taking advantage of the Grunion's rather strange and predictable reproductive habits, to fill buckets with these squiggly little creatures after which they fill their bellies.

In other words, Grunion are edible and yes, you can catch them but only with your hands and, if you're 16 or older, you'll need a valid California Fishing License. 

The experts say the best time to catch them is during the second hour after the run starts, on the second and third nights of the four-night run.

How do you catch a Grunion?

Actually, it's kind of rude and unjust when you think about it. As the males and females ride the waves during the high tides, the female deposits her eggs (1600-3600 at a time) and then the male does his thing. This is all done before the next wave rolls in to return the fish to the sea.

That's when you scamper out, bend over, hands and arms extended, trying to nab one or two or more and get them in your catch bucket before your opportunity (and free dinner) disappear.

Run Times:

  • Monday: 10 p.m. - Midnight
  • Tuesday: 10:25 p.m. - 12:25 a.m.
  • Wednesday: 10:45 p.m. - 12:45 a.m.
  • Thursday: 11:10 p.m. - 1:10 a.m.

Most popular fishing spots:

Cardiff, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Jolla, Leucadia, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Pacific Beach, Silver Strand, Solana Beach, Swami's Beach, Tourmaline Beach, Windansea Beach

Wanted! Grunion Greeters

A group of scientists are looking for volunteers to attend a training session then man the beaches during the runs and help count and manage the events, all in the name of conservation, ecology and science.  If you think you might be interested, click here.

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