A Surprise Fall Fish Turned Catch and Cook

Like many things, surf fishing is seasonal. Lucky for us, each season still offers some solid potential to catch fish from the beach. Every year, a large percentage of anglers hang up their rods when November rolls around as they await the summer months. While that used to be me, I just can’t do that anymore. So, can you fish the surf in the fall and winter?

Absolutely you can! Will some fish be less active than others though? Yes, it’s all about putting the time in and knowing your target. While surfperch and halibut will be increasing in abundance, corbina and spotfin croaker aren’t off the table by any means. Here’s the story from the other day.

Corbina Catch and Cook

Conditions

I made it out for a late-morning through early-afternoon session a couple days ago and arrived to some pleasant conditions. The surf height was rolling in at 1-to-2-feet and the current was minimal but present. Water temp was a mild 63-degrees Fahrenheit while the air temp and overall weather made for a nice San Diego fall day. No waders necessary this late in the morning as my only complaint was the seaweed. It wasn’t quite perfect. Bait choice for the day was mussel meat and the rigging was as usual and described in detail on my surf fishing gear and tackle page.

On the Sand

It’s 10:30 am as I rig up my gear and prepare to soak a line. I’m loving what I see out there. Upon reading the surf, the structure looks like it has to hold some good fish. One specific spot is littered with small troughs (or scallops) and I head straight over there.

I’ve only got a few hours to work with so I’m hoping for a quick and steady bite, but we all know how fishing goes. I finish getting set-up and slap a piece of mussel meat on my hook. After figuring out where I want to place my bait, I give it a few casts to feel out the direction and strength of the current.

My First Good Fight in Quite Some Time

Just as I’m getting settled in, I feel that classic, “tap… … … tap… … tap-tap-tap-tap”. I feel the full-take and set the hook! Immediately I know I’m on something decent.

At first, there’s no initial run, just a solid hit and a stationary struggle. After a few seconds though, I feel my rod begin loading up and I ease up on my grip as line starts zipping off my reel!

The first run was a feeling and sound I’d been missing for a few weeks and it felt awesome to experience it again. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t fighting a surfperch. After that initial run, I’d narrowed it down to either a spotfin croaker or a corbina and I’d be happy either way.

A couple mild runs later and with the help of a couple waves, I battled the fish onto the sand. A 20.5-inch corbina in November! I decided to make this one into a meal as it might be another 5-months or so before I hook into another corbina of this size.

corbina catch and cook
20.5-inch corbina caught in November

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I’ve got my rod in a good position with four sand crabs on my hook. All of which were smaller than I would have ever used prior to today. As I await some action, it happens. I feel a quick couple of taps and wham! As soon as the fish takes, the drag ticker is absolutely screaming. My rod tip dips and dives a couple times and I know it’s not a ray.

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