Each June, July and August, the beaches of Oceanside play host to thousands of slippery fish who land on its shores after nightfall. These fish are famous for their remarkable spawning behavior, which evokes an “I don’t believe it!” response from people seeing or hearing about it for the first time.
Grunions leave the water at night to spawn on beaches making for an awe-inspiring sight. For four consecutive nights, beginning on the nights of the full and new moons, spawning occurs after high tides and continues for several hours. As waves break on the beach, grunion swim as far up the slope as possible. Spawning occurs from March through August, and occasionally in February and September. Peak spawning is late March to early June. Grunions arrive typically between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. depending on the tides. The best sightings are typically on the second and third nights of the four-night period. Grunion can only be caught, but only with bare hands. Adults 16 and over must have a fishing license to catch grunion.
Expected dates for the 2012 summer grunion season are: May 8, 20-23; June 4-7, 19-22; July 4-7, 18-21; and August 1-4, 17-19. Click for more information on the 2012 Grunion Schedule.