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Run for the Grunion is Annual Event that Provides Chills & Thrills


They come in the night like thieves. Flashlights drawn like guns to the sand, their best friends are a bucket and a pair of seasoned hands. This isn't some wild west shootout. This is the annual assault on those poor little, delicious babies that spawn into tiny fish called grunion.  And they're hitting your Southern California Beach this upcoming week. Get the full grunion run schedule.


Grunion runs are a springtime and summer phenomenon the beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara relish. When the season is ripe, those armed with fishing licenses are allowed to catch the tiny fish and eat them. Used in casseroles such as a green bean caserole, or cooked in a pan with some salt and seasoning over an open fire is a treat. But not everyone loves to eat grunion. And the advice the California Department of Fish and Game offers to them is "catch & release".


But here's the catch for grunion hunters. Most Southern California beaches shut down before the grunion run anywhere from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.  How are you supposed to park your car and enter beaches that are off limits? It's challenging, said one grunion runner who told us about his experience. " I had to park on a city street where it was legal to park at night, then walk a few blocks to the beach, my bucket in hand."


But the fun just began when the fisherman arrived at the beach and was approached by a patrol unit. "I told them I was hunting for grunion and they said I couldn't do that because the beach was closed.  After haggling for a while, I waited till they left and then headed for the sand, my fishing license in hand. While I waited at the sand to look for them,  sure enough, I did see the critters and began grabbing them in my hands, throwing them in my bucket. " Having driven from San Bernardino to grunion hunt, the fisherman said he left with half a bucket full of fish before they disappeared. Would he do it again? Probably not. It was just too much hassle, the Inland Empire resident concluded--and the fish weren't that good.


For those seeking to run this year, call the local beach operations where you plan to fish for grunion. They will give you their official answer and you can decide if its worth the effort. For those seeking a friendly grunion run, be sure to check out San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach operations and the Aquarium grunion program. It's certainly the friendliest grunion run we've discovered, though there is another at Doheny Beach in Dana Point. The down side of these two grunion-friendly beach destinations is that both consistently rank lower in water quality grades as monitored by




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