Winter Bean, A Beach Story – Surf Fishing Corbina

Haven’t gotten out much lately…

Between last week’s wind, and this week’s rainy conditions, I haven’t been that motivated to get out on a boat.  But just because you don’t go, it doesn’t mean that itch can go on without scratching it somehow.

When you are afflicted as we are, that addiction needs to get fed.

Some buddies have been encouraging me to take up trout fishing.  I actually have a couple appropriate rods if I ever take them up on the invite.  For me though, in times like these, my go to is the sand or jetty.

Thus it was that I found myself on the beach Tuesday morning before the rain hit.

Winter Bean CorbinaI arrived about an hour before high tide.  My plan was to target halibut and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the conditions looked favorable to my plan.  The waves weren’t big.  I also noticed cormorants working the trough area in front of me, possibly indicating the presence of bait fish.  Maybe today would finally be the day that I caught a legal halibut from the sand.

After 2 hours, high tide had come and gone and I had yet to even get a hint of a bite.  You know that line from comedian Steven Wright?  “There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.”  Beachcombers and dog-walkers had passed me going down and back already.

It felt like I was fully on the idiot side of the line.

Then he appeared to me.  A corbina rolled right up to my feet, then turned back to the surf as the wave receded.

I’ve never had any luck sight fishing for corbina.  In my experience, if you can see them, they definitely see you and won’t bite.  I’ve had the good fortune of having ultra-qualified surf fishing mentors.  They can sight fish corbina, so I know it’s possible.  I just haven’t yet leveled up to doing it.

It won’t happen if you don’t try, so I retreated up the beach to re-rig and give it a go.  I setup a Carolina rig using 4# fluoro leader and a size 8 hook.  I didn’t see any sign of sand crab while halibut fishing.  Sand crab is the bait of choice for surf fishing corbina, but as the water has cooled off, the crabs have gotten harder to find.  My first offering was a Gulp! camo worm.  The water was super clear, so I was able to see the fish give it a look and pass.  Then I tried the motor oil grub (aka MOG).  Again, he wasn’t buying.

I was thinking the combo of the clear water and less than frothy surf conditions were just too stacked against me to trick this fish into biting.  I reeled in and turned to leave.

Then something caught my eye.  It was a sand crab digging into the sand as a wave washed over it.  I stuck my hand in the sand and dug it out.  Got it.

I tried the crab, but still couldn’t get it to go. These fish are worthy adversaries, and I was willing to concede this encounter to it.

I had one last trick up my sleeve. I walked down the beach and casted back toward where I was standing before. I felt some interest. C’mon take it…take it…YES! It pulled drag on my lightly set drag for it’s initial run, but because the waves weren’t strong, it was a relatively short fight. Got you. A little over 3 hours invested, one crab, one bite, one fish. I can’t honestly say I sight fished it, but I’ll take it. Good sized one too. I estimated 20-inches with some good girth to it. Never caught a corbina this late in the year. Prior to this one, the latest I’d ever caught one was September.

Winter Bean Corbina

It’s great when a plan comes together, but it pays to be adaptable and opportunistic if/when that plan doesn’t work out.

Good luck if you get out there.

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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 ...