Typically, the grunions make their way back into the ocean between the months of March and August, with peak runs in April through June. Runs are predicted a year in advance because of the regularity of the grunions. Runs follow the new and full moons.
Note: Many public areas are currently closed due to the COVID-19 situation. Be sure to check before showing up.
A: The grunion may run from March through August on nights following a full or new moon. "Peak" spawning season occurs during the months of April, May and June which is your best bet. Runs tend to be larger and more consistent during peak season. The predicted spawning schedule published by the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (see California Grunion: Facts and Expected Runs) includes four nights following the full or new moon. Typically the third and fourth nights tend to be a bit better. The grunion may run anytime within a two-hour window after high tide so be prepared and be patient.
A: There is no "best" spot! As we say, only the fish know where they'll show up on any given predicted spawning night. However, they do prefer flat, sandy beaches and areas without a lot of flashing light, noise and activity. The largest runs occur in southern CA but smaller runs can occur farther north. Conditions at each beach are constantly changing so we cannot recommend a specific beach in your area. Also, beach curfews vary between municipalities so we advise you look into local regulations before heading out. Lastly, once you choose a beach that meets the general criteria we suggest you head to a quiet area away from any crowds and noise. The grunion are less likely to run in an area with a lot of disturbance.
A: For a variety of reasons reports of runs are not available to the public. Regardless, it would not be helpful to you in deciding where to go. The grunion are neither more or less likely to run again at the same beach the next night. Keep in mind, the fish are wildlife! Follow the tips above and bring a bit of luck in your back pocket.
A: We do not offer public programs but there are a few organizations that do, including Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Birch Aquarium at Scripps. For a list of options please see: http://grunion.pepperdine.edu/publicprograms.htm.
A: Volunteers must be at least 18 and attend a training workshop each year prior to spawning season. Currently the program is on hiatus but if you'd like to be added to our mailing list for future announcements please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: The factors listed above may have played a role in why you did not see a run. If the beach was crowded, there were large noisy crowds, and so on. Also, as mentioned, the grunion may run any time within a two-hour window after high tide. You may have arrived too late or left too early. Finally, sometimes the fish simple do not show up! Those of us involved in the Grunion Greeters have ourselves been "skunked" more times than we can count. This is why the grunion are often called elusive.
A: Grunion are an extremely vulnerable species and part of a unique southern Californian culture that we hope to preserve. They are also an important part of the food web, with predators such as endangered shore birds, marine mammals, sharks, and many other species. They are found nowhere else in the world and represent a rare opportunity to experience wildlife right at your feet.
The months of April and May are closed season when no take or contact of any kind is allowed. Before and after those months, fishing is permitted but with restrictions. Anyone over 16 must have a valid Dept. of Fish and Wildlife license. No gear of any kind can be used including nets, hooks, traps, buckets for scooping--only your bare hands may be used. The law also stipulates that you may only take what you plan to use.
If you observe poaching out of season, or any violations of grunion fishing regulations such as use of gear or nets, please advise the California Department of Fish and Wildlife via https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations or call their hotline,
1-888-DFG-CALTIP(1-888-334-2258). We advocate "observe and conserve." Please enjoy!