So Cal’s Surf Offers More Fishing Than You Know

There’s a mysteriousness to the ocean, an unknown, and unexplored. It’s shown bits and pieces of its mysteriousness to me time and time again. Just when I think I’ve uncovered most of it, I see something, catch something, or learn something from another angler and realize there’s so much more… so many more possibilities.

My Story

To be fair, what I’m about to tell you in the following paragraphs, wasn’t necessary for me to fall in love with the world of surf fishing. For the longest time, I’d go to the beach every Wednesday with my family and friends in the summer months. I boogie boarded, swam, body surfed, played wiffleball, and occasionally, caught sand crabs for my sandcastle moats. Here and there, I’d see a small group of good-sized fish (unbeknownst to me, corbina), and I’d chase them around trying to catch them… at La Jolla Shores.

I knew nothing about surf fishing, let alone the fact that it was illegal to catch fish at La Jolla Shores. I enjoyed fishing. I’d fished Santee Lakes, Lake Cuyamaca, Lake Jennings, The Eel River, and a couple of NorCal and Minnesota lakes. Somehow, even after seeing plenty of fish at the beach and growing up in San Diego, I never thought about fishing at the beach. That is until my older brother’s buddy took him out to fish on a local beach.

They didn’t tell me, certainly didn’t invite me, but they were pretty quick to show me the fish they caught and brought home for dinner that day – a couple of nice-sized California corbina. That’s when the first switch flipped.

The next time they went out, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t formally invited, I was coming. That day, I caught my first barred surfperch using sand crabs and saw my brother’s buddy (now a close friend of mine) catch a good-sized guitarfish that measured close to 4 feet. That day, that’s when the second and final switch flipped… that light bulb has been on and burning long and bright for the past nine years with no signs of dimming.

That was all I needed to fall in love with surf fishing, what I’ve learned since then is what I’ll be writing about in these coming stories and articles. If you weren’t lucky enough to get hooked on surf fishing the way I was, hopefully, what I disclose below and in the coming stories will do the job.

Who Am I?

My name is Nick Heid. I’ve been fishing the surf of Southern California since 2014 and I’ve simply become obsessed. In 2019, I created the website: surffishingsocalsd.com centered around surf fishing in Southern California, and began blogging every week.

Come 2022, I’m a licensed guide and I write down everything. Everything I observe, everything I learn, and everything I catch. Fishing logs are full of data I’ll never truly be able to analyze, surf conditions, timing, location, and much more. Even with all that and all the theories I’ve come up with, I’m just like any other angler out there. I fish when I can and if the tides aren’t right? Darn… still fishin’.

Over the years, my passion for surf fishing has grown exponentially and I’ve accepted and embraced the fact that yesterday, I knew less than I do today.

So What Does So Cal’s Surf Have To Offer?

Think about this:

Do most surf anglers in So Cal know about corbina, surfperch, croaker, and other common species like guitarfish, small sharks, and rays?

Yes. Okay, but do most anglers in So Cal know about these species and how to fish for them from the beach? I don’t believe so.

Here’s where it gets even crazier… Do most surf anglers know how to target, or even have any knowledge of numerous other species that you can catch from the surf? Species that are much larger, more elusive, and more mysterious? Nope.

So, before I leave everyone hanging on a cliff without having mentioned what other species you can regularly catch, I’ll make a quick list.

Surfperch, corbina, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, halibut, sting rays, bat rays, guitarfish, leopard sharks (up to 5 feet), calico bass, sand bass, soupfin sharks (up to 7 feet), sevengill sharks (8+ footers), jacksmelt, sargo, smooth hound sharks, opaleye, shortfin corvina, white seabass, rockfish sheephead, and even striped bass are a possible catch in So Cal.  

You Never Know

Those are just the species that have been proven to be targetable on a regular basis from the surf. There’s one important element to ocean fishing that doesn’t change whether you’re on land or on a boat… You never know what you might catch.

As I stated above:

There’s a mysteriousness to the ocean, an unknown, an unexplored. It’ll show bits and pieces of its mystriousness… just when you think you’ve uncovered most it, you see something, catch something, learn something…

Try going from knowing only that surfperch, corbina, and guitarfish were possible catches, to landing a 53.5-pound yellowtail from shore. It’s humbling. It’s incredible. It’s inspiring. And, if that doesn’t keep you coming back, every time you lose a big fish certainly will. Who knows what you hooked? Was it a big leopard shark, or would it have been the biggest striped bass ever landed from shore? Maybe a white seabass, great white shark (don’t go targeting these) … yellowtail? It was probably just a 15-inch corbina that got wrecked by a passing seal, but nobody knows for sure. It could have been anything.

Coming Soon

If learning how to catch the species listed above interests you, or the possibility of catching something completely unexpected interests you, you’ve come to the right place. Stay tuned for the next year or so and you’ll hear from myself, Bill Varney, and a few others as we tell our stories and provide some insight as to how we approach surf fishing.

Having spoken with Bill a few times and reading some of his material, you’re in for some pretty insightful and different tactics and methods that should really help shape your own opinion as you take in multiple perspectives and try new things.

You can’t catch fish if you aren’t fishing… so get out there and wet a line.

– Nick Heid