Hunting For Big Beans – Surf Fishing SoCal

You may remember that I caught my first corbina of the year early last month.  In the following weeks, I had managed some multi-fish days, but the fish were smallish.  I felt like I was in a rut and was looking for a new challenge.

I decided to scout out some new beach.  I went back to an old stretch of sand where I had experienced some epic beach-based fishing a couple Fall seasons ago.

It’s a decision that I’ve quietly been enjoying for a few weeks now.

surf fishingAlong with a change of venue, I had to find a new source of bait.  It’s still a little early in the season to find consistent sand crabs for bait.  As I have mentioned though on these pages, I looked near structure.  I didn’t immediately see the telltale sign of the crabs’ antennae in the receding waves, but the sand next to the rocks had that spongy feel to it.  I dug my hand into the sand and…jackpot!  I could feel crabs below the surface.  In short order, I was able to gather enough to start fishing.

Next task, let’s see what kind of structure was around.  I had arrived about an hour prior to the bottom of the tide.  When you are unfamiliar with an area, a good strategy is to get there around low as it allows you to better identify where the structure is at that particular beach.

This picture (left) wasn’t from that first day.  I took it right at low tide on a different day, but it illustrates the point.  Once water fills up that hole, it will be an area that will likely hold fish (below).  Pay attention to how the water interacts with that structure.  Look at how the water washes over it and recedes from it.  When the water is deeper, it will exhibit similar interaction and give you a clue as to the structure below.

I liked what I was seeing.  Even at this low point in the tide, there was enough structure and depth near shore to hold fish.  As a backup plan, there was another beach that I could take the bait I had just made…

But this beach looked good.  I stayed.

I casted and walked.  I got about 20-yards down the beach when I made visual confirmation.  A pack of 3 beans saw me and they scrambled away in 3 different directions.  Spooky buggers.  Knowing they were around though, I decided to stop and really give the area a shot.  I changed my bait and casted out.  Once the line came tight, I stepped back from the beach and slowly worked the bait back.  The holes and troughs off the beach hold fish too.  I managed to catch two fish before I needed to head home.

Most importantly though, I had a new spot.

surf fishing
See it?


In the ensuing days, I caught fish up to 18-inches long.  The setup I’ve been using is a 7-foot Seeker Bushido bass spinning rod rated 6-15#.  I was fishing it with a Daiwa Pro 2000 spooled with 30# braid, Carolina rig with 3/4 oz. of weight, and a 4# fluorocarbon leader (12-14″) to a size 8 Owner Mosquito hook.  I was catching fish, but there were bigger ones in the water that I was hooking up and missing due to either them breaking the leader or pulling the hook on one of their violent runs.

On one of the drives home, I hit up my surf sensei, Randy Toji and asked him, “Do you ever put mono in between the braid and fluoro?”  Yes, he answered.  “Oh good.  I’ve been losing fish due to the leader snapping or pulling the hook.  I think the mono will give me enough shock absorber to withstand the headshakes and runs on the bigger ones.”  That’s why I put it there, he told me.

When I got home, I tied about 20-feet of 10# mono at the end of the braid.  I couldn’t wait to test out my theory.

It worked like a charm!

First trip out after doing it, I nailed my biggest corbina of this season, a 21″ fish (below).  Twenty inches is a mark for these fish that many surf anglers strive for and I’ve already managed to catch 2 in that class this year.

surf fishing

surf fishing
The twenty incher

If these fish are this big now, I wonder how big they could be by the end of Summer.  A buddy of mine, Kevin Kim, caught a 28″ fish at RAT Beach (Right After Torrance) several years ago.  The crabs aren’t even plentiful yet.  A few months of fattening and I truly believe these fish could get up in that range.  I can’t wait to find out.

In the meantime, go find some sand to fish from before the kids get out of school.  It’s prime time right now.  Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is ...