San Diego, specifically La Jolla, CA, is one of the best places to witness a Grunion Run. A Grunion Run takes place every year, starting in April and going on through June. This is when hundreds, if not thousands, of small silver fish ride the waves on to shore so that they can spawn, or release their eggs. It has become tradition to go out onto the beach at night to watch this spectacular event unfold right before your eyes.
To ensure that you have a great experience and that you catch the fish on the right nights, we’re going to answer some commonly asked Grunion Run questions for you.
What is a Grunion?
A Grunion is a small silvery fish about 5 to 6 inches long. It’s unique in that it comes completely out of the water and onto the sand to spawn and lay its eggs.
What happens when they spawn?
The grunions start by catching a wave on to shore where the female then buries the bottom half of her body in the sand. After she deposits her eggs one to eight male fish will then release milt around the female fish to fertilize the eggs. Both fish then swim back out into the ocean leaving the eggs to hatch on shore.
What happens to the eggs?
The eggs get covered by sand, staying underground for approximately 10 days until a high tide reaches their location uncovering them. The baby grunion will hatch just minutes after the eggs are freed from the sand and then the water will wash them out to sea.
Can I catch the fish?
There is an open and a closed season during Grunion Runs. In April and May no one is allowed to catch or take the Grunion. However, in March, June and July those with a valid California Fishing License may collect grunion by hand only. Make sure to thoroughly cook and clean your fish before cooking them and be careful about the potential choking hazard of small bones. We don’t want you to end up with an emergency trip to see your La Jolla physician or ER doctor.
When is the best time to go and see this phenomenon?
The fish spawn for four nights in a row starting right after a full moon and a new moon. They begin swimming ashore at night after high tide and it will continue for several hours. The next best times to see a run are on April 1 from 11pm. to 1 am. or on April 16 and April 30 from 10:35 pm to 12:35 am.
It’s certainly going to be a late night so we recommend reserving a room at a beautiful oceanfront La Jolla hotel. This way you are able to spot the beach from your window or balcony and see when they shiny fish decide to wash ashore.
La Jolla Shores is by far one of the best places to watch a Grunion Run as there are miles of uncrowded beach. For the best view, go towards the end of the beach, away from populated and bright fire pits and flashlights which will scare fish away. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful spectacle of nature as it unfolds right before your eyes on the starlit California shoreline at night.