The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has published its annual schedule of predicted grunion runs in 2018. Intrepid nature lovers and grunion hunters can use the schedule to stake out a beach late at night and perhaps catch a few fish, or just observe their unusual mating behavior.
Grunion, are small, slender fish with bluish-green backs and silvery bellies. These fish ‘strand’ themselves in wet sand to reproduce, and do so at predictable times and places. You can watch this mating ritual on sandy beaches throughout Southern California and occasionally on beaches around Morro Bay, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco Bay. Their excursions onto dry land occur at night throughout the spring months during high tides, and full and new moons, for 3 or 4 nights in a row.
Grunion are legal to capture under the auspices of a sport fishing license, by hand only, except during the months of April and May when the fishing season is closed.
If you would prefer to help conserve grunion populations, you can observe and learn about these fish rather than hunt and collect them. Please do not disturb the females depositing eggs tail-first in the sand, or the incubating eggs they leave behind. This will allow the grunion to complete the spawning portion of their life cycle and contribute to future grunion spawning events. The females do not die after spawning; in fact, they can spawn several times during a 4-day spawning event, and spawn in multiple events every year during their 3- to 4-year life span. Be sure to visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s grunion web page to learn more about these fascinating fish.
post by Leslie Kashiwada, CDFW Scientific Aid