CDFW Questionnaire to Gather Grunion Hunter Knowledge

California grunion spawning on a sandy Southern California beach

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) would like to hear from California grunion hunters! A new questionnaire is available on the CDFW website to capture grunion hunters’ input. Your participation can help CDFW to better understand the recreational fishery.

The number of California grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) spawning on beaches has declined by an order of magnitude in the past decade, according to a recent study.

“We don’t think California grunion has ever been an abundant species, and recent declines in the observed number of spawning fish is concerning,” said Chuck Valle, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor.

In June 2019, the California Fish and Game Commission received a petition signed by scientists, community members, environmental organizations, surfers, and beach workers from the organization known as the Grunion Greeters. The petition requested the creation of a bag limit and season reduction to limit recreational harvest of California grunion.

CDFW reviewed the petition and agreed that a change in regulations may be needed due to the observed decline of grunion spawning on beaches over the past decade. The Commission agreed to consider the petition in the future, and CDFW was asked to develop a regulatory package for the Commission’s consideration.

Grunion spawn in concentrated groups along California’s sandy beaches, making them vulnerable to a variety of human and environmental impacts, including overexploitation and habitat loss. The proposed regulations may help grunion.

Under current sport fishing regulations, grunion have no bag or possession limits, the season is open from June 1 through March 31, and grunion may only be taken by hand (no gear or dug holes may be used in capture). New regulations under consideration include a reduction in the length of the fishing season and/or the creation of a possession limit.

However, before finalizing a proposal, CDFW would like to better understand the recreational fishery. If you fish for grunion, we hope you will fill out the questionnaire to help inform the management process. Please note that you will be required to write in your GO ID number (listed on your fishing license). Your information will be kept confidential and will only be used to verify identification. CDFW thanks you in advance for providing valuable information on this popular sport fish and California icon!

post by Armand Barilotti, CDFW Environmental Scientist
Editor’s note: This post was edited on February 19, 2021.