2021 Grunion Run Schedule

It is that time of year again! The grunion is here! If you recall, in 2020,  Californians could not witness the grunion of March and April, as we were not allowed anywhere near the water. Well, this year is different, and I, for one, am heading down this month to check them out in person. Below, I present the 2021 grunion and the updated 2022 grunion run schedule for Southern California.

Important- New Grunion Fishing Regulation 2022 Update!

The California Department of Fish and Game Commission has officially adopted new grunion fishing regulations!
Starting on June 1, 2022, the grunion closure/observation rule has been extended for one more month. No grunion may be taken from April 1 to June 31. Because of a decrease in numbers, a new bag limit of 30 fish will be enacted when the season opens again on July 1.

What is a Grunion, and How Do They Run?

marcro grunion fish head close up
credit-Nathan Rupert-(Flickr)

The grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) are small silvery fish between 5 to 7 inches long that live about 3 to 4 years. Each year, the grunion comes onto Southern California’s beaches between March and September to spawn during the Full and New Moons.

The female grunion catches a wave, digs a hole, and waits for males to touch her. Once touched, she will release her eggs, and the males cast their milt (sperm) on her body, which then flows down onto the eggs.

The process happens rather quickly, and up to eight males may fertilize each female. Interestingly, the female grunion may be out of the water for over five minutes! Once the male is done, he will catch a wave back into the ocean.

Each grunion run lasts four consecutive days when the tide is at its highest and longest. The eggs are buried in the sand for two weeks until the next high tide arrives. When the larvae become agitated by the waves, they hatch and are taken back into the ocean by the tide.

April and May are peak spawning months, so only observation is allowed.

I have written extensively about the process and noted a few fascinating characteristics of the grunion, so please click on the link provided below if you would like more information.

–>Grunion Run 2020 Schedule<–

Do You Need a Fishing License?

grunion zphaze flickr fish wet sand
Credit-zphaze on Flickr

If you plan on taking or touching any of these fish and are over 16, you will need a fishing license.

You may only take the grunion by hand and dig no holes. So if you do not have a fishing license, do not touch the fish.

There is no bag limit, but it has been noted on California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website that it is unethical and unlawful to waste fish, so please only take what you need.

Again, click on the link provided above for more detailed information.

Updated- 2022 Grunion Run Schedule!

grunion run 2022 updated schedule
North Pacific Beach

As of now (February 28, 2022), the abovementioned regulations are still in effect, but they may change very soon. It is up to you to check if anything changes before the grunion comes to town, so to speak.

Check regularly!- (It’s changed! See the important information up above!)

Here is the Fish and Wildlife Link- New Regulations Pending?

Under current regulations, there is a grunion bag limit, but there has been talking about changing that to only allow a 30 fish recreational bag limit.

Also, due to a noted decrease in the grunion population, there are talks of closing the month of June for taking grunion and only allowing for observation, thus shortening the season by one month. – (Yep! June is closed!)

If you have any questions, Environmental Scientist Armand Barilotti from the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been designated to respond.

He can be reached at

  • Armand.Barilotti@wildlife.ca.gov
  • (562) 342-7164

March 2022

  • 3/2 Wednesday 9:40 pm- 11:40 pm
  • 3/3 Thursday 10:10 pm- 12:10 am
  • 3/4 Friday 10:35 pm- 12:35 am
  • 3/5  Saturday 11:05 pm- 1:05 am
  • 3/18 Friday 10:35 pm- 12:35 am
  • 3/19 Saturday 11:00 pm- 1:00 am
  • 3/20 Sunday 11:30- to 1:30 am
  • 3/21 Monday 12:05 am- 2:05 am *

April 2022- Observation Only

  • 4/1 Friday 10:20 pm to 12:20 am
  • 4/2 Saturday 10:50 pm to 12:50 am
  • 4/3 Sunday 11:10 pm to 1:10 am
  • 4/4 Monday 11:35 pm to 1:35 am
  • 4/16 Saturday 9:50 pm to 11:50 pm
  • 4/17 Sunday 10:20 pm to 12:20 am
  • 4/1 Monday 10:55 pm to 12:55 am
  • 4/19 Tuesday 11:35 pm to 1:35 am
  • 4/30 Saturday 9:40 pm to 11:40 pm

May 2022- Observation  Only

  • 5/1 Sunday 10:05 pm to 12:05 am
  • 5/2 Monday 10:30 pm to 12:30 am
  • 5/3 Tuesday 10:55 pm to 12:55 am
  • 5/16 Monday 9:50 pm to 11:50 pm
  • 5/17 Tuesday 10:3 pm to 12:35 am
  • 5/18 Wednesday 11:20 pm to 1:20 am
  •  /19 Thursday 12:15 am to 2:15 am*
  • 5/30 Monday 9:35 pm to 11:35 pm
  • 5/31 Tuesday 10:00 pm to 12:00 am

June 2022- Observation Only

  • 6/1 Wednesday 10:35 pm to 12:35 am
  • 6/2 Thursday 11:10 pm to 1:10 am
  • 6/14 Tuesday 9:35 pm to 11:35 pm
  • 6/15 Wedne day 10:25 pm to 12:25 am
  • 6/16 Thursday 11:15 pm to 1:15 am
  • 6/17 Friday 12:10 am to 2:10 am*
  • 6/29 Wednesday 9:50 pm to 11:50 pm
  • 6/30 Thursday 10:25 pm to 12 25 am

July 2022

  • 7/1 Friday 11:00 pm to 1:00 am
  • 7/2 Saturday 11:35 pm to 1:35 am
  • 7/13 Wednesday 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm
  • 7/14 Thursday 10:20 pm to 12:20 am
  • 7/15 Friday 11:10 pm to 1:10 am
  • 7/16 Saturday 12:00 am to 2:00 am*
  • 7/28 Thursday 9:40 pm to 11 40 pm
  • 7/29 Friday 10:10 pm to 12:10 am
  • 7/30 Saturday 10:45 pm to 12:45 am
  • 7/31 Sunday 11:20 pm to 1:20 am

August 2022

  • 8/11 Thursday 9:25 pm to 11:25 pm
  • 8/12 Friday 10:10 pm to 12:10 am
  • 8/13 Saturday 10:55 pm to 12:55 am
  • 8/14 Sunday 11:45 pm to 1:45 am
  • 8/27  Saturday 10:00 pm to 12:00 am
  • 8/28 Sunday 10:30 pm to 12:30 am
  • 8/29 Monday 11:10 pm to 1:10 am
  • 8 /30 Tuesday 11:50 pm to 1:50 am

*-If the time is near Midnight, the previous evening date will be listed


When Will the Grunion Run in 2021?

la jolla shores beach two surfers sand
La Jolla Shores Beach on a King Tide day
  • *All times listed are for Los Angeles County at Cabrillo Beach- so for San Diego County, times are five minutes early, while up further north, in Santa Barbara County, the times will be 25 minutes later

March 

  • 3/13 Saturday 9:40 pm – 11:40 pm
  • 3/14 Sunday 11:00 pm – 1:00 am
  • 3/15 Monday 11:25 pm- 1:25 am
  • 3/16 Tuesday 11:50 pm- 1:50 am
  • 3/28 Sunday 10:10 pm- 12:10 am
  • 3/29 Monday 10:40 pm- 12:40 am
  • 3/30 Tuesday 11:15 pm- 1:15 am

April  (Observation Only)

  • 3/31 Wednesday 12:00 am- 2:00 am*
  • 4/12 Monday 10:15 pm- 12:00 am
  • 4/13 Tuesday 10:35 pm- 12:35 am
  • 4/14 Wednesday 11:00 pm- 1:00 am
  • 4/15 Thursday 11:25 pm- 1:25 am
  • 4/27 Tuesday 10:05 pm- 12:05 am
  • 4/28 Wednesday 10:45 pm- 12:45 am
  • 4/29 Thursday 11:30 pm- 1:30 am
  • 4/30 Friday 12:15 am- 2:15 am*

May (Observation Only)

  • 5/11 Tuesday 9:35 pm- 11:35 pm
  • 5/12 Wednesday 10:00 pm- 12:00 am
  • 5/13 Thursday 10:25 pm- 12:25 am
  • 5/14 Friday 10:55 pm- 12:55 am
  • 5/26 Wednesday 9:40 pm- 11:40 pm
  • 5/27 Thursday 10:25 pm- 12:25 am
  • 5/28 Friday 11:10 pm- 1:10 am
  • 5/29 Saturday 12:05 am- 2:05 am*

June

  • 6/10 Thursday 9:35 pm- 11:35 pm
  • 6/11 Friday 10:05 pm- 12:05 am
  • 6/12 Saturday 10:40 pm- 12:40 am
  • 6/13 Sunday 11:20 pm- 1:20 am
  • 6/24 Thursday 9:25 pm- 11:25 pm
  • 6/25 Friday 10:15 pm- 12:15 am
  • 6/26 Saturday 11:00 pm- 1:00 am
  • 6/27 Sunday 11:50 pm- 1:50 am

July

  • 7/10 Saturday 10:00 pm- 12:00 am
  • 7/11 Sunday 10:35 pm- 12:35 am
  • 7/12 Monday 11:10 pm- 1:10 am
  • 7/13 Tuesday 11:55 pm- 1:55 am
  • 7/24 Saturday 10:05 pm- 12:05 am
  • 7/25 Sunday 10:50 pm- 12:50 am
  • 7/26 Monday 11:35 pm- 1:35 am
  • 7/27 Tuesday 12:20 am- 2:20 am*

August

  • 8/8 Sunday 9:45 pm- 11:45 pm
  • 8/9 Monday 10:25 pm- 12:25 pm
  • 8/10 Tuesday 11:05 pm- 1:05 am
  • 8/11 Wednesday 11:45 pm- 1:45 am
  • 8/22 Sunday 9:55 pm- 11:55 pm
  • 8/23 Monday 10:35 pm- 12:35 am
  • 8/24 Tuesday 11:15 pm- 1:15 am
  • 8/25 Wednesday 11:55 pm- 1:55 am

*-If the time is near Midnight, the previous evening date will be listed


Where are the Best Places to See the Grunion in San Diego?

grunion run la jolla shores 800 wikimedia commons
La Jolla Shores Beach-Wikimedia Commons

As a rule, the grunion prefers to spawn on dark, flat beaches with a slope.

Remember that the fish do not like light, so try not to shine your flashlights on them.

My top picks to see the grunion run in San Diego County are the following (from North to South)-

Oceanside

Oceanside harbor beach 2021 grunion run schedule

All beaches north of Oceanside Pier have the most sand available during high tide, while south of the pier, the sand is wet during the high tide. So my top pick in Oceanside would be Oceanside Harbor Beach.

Torrey Pines State Beach

torrey pines state beach grunion run 2021
Next to North Parking Lot

There is easy access to witness the event next to the two available parking lots, so walking further along the coastline is unnecessary.

La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shore grunion run beach 2021

If I had to make my top pick of the best beach to see a grunion run, this beach would be it. There is free parking, which is always a plus, and two restroom facilities close by.

North Pacific Beach

Law Street beach pacific beach san diego
Law Street Beach

Parking here may be tricky as this city is known to party through the night. Due to the lack of light, Tourmaline Beach or the residential beach on Law Street would be a good choice. Free parking and restrooms are available at both beaches.

Mission Beach

south mission beach jetty san diego

My top location would be next to the jetty over at South Mission Beach. There is ample free parking as well as a restroom. Over here is also a great place to watch the boats come in and out of Mission Bay.

Ocean Beach

dog beach ocean beach grunion run 2021

Anywhere north of the pier, and the further, the better. A good spot would be at Dog Beach, as there is less light. Free parking and a restroom are available as well.

Coronado Beach

coronado dog run beach wet sand ocean

Over between the Hotel del Coronado and Coronado Dog Beach- again, anywhere that is dark. It is deafening over here due to the Naval Air Base. Parking may be tricky, but try looking around the residential neighborhoods.

Silver Strand Beach

silver strand state beach sandy beach ocean

It is located just south of Coronado, rarely crowded, and is perfect for the grunion run. Take note that this beach is very close to the US/Mexican Border, and historically, the water is not the cleanest. There is only paid parking available here, as it is a campground.

Final Thoughts- Grunion and Great White Sharks?

guadalupe island great white shark face 1024px

Before ending, I wanted to share something with you.

Did you realize that San Diego is a great white shark nursery? Adult females travel to San Diego and leave their pups here. These babies are 5 to 7 feet long, and grunion is one of their favorite treats.

So through the years, there has been a noted increase of shark sightings and attacks when the grunion are running. Take a look at the link provided below if you want more information.

–>San Diego Shark Sightings<–

Have fun, stay safe, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Until next time!

6 Replies to “2021 Grunion Run Schedule”

  1. Thank you for your Time of exploration, Expertise, and knowledge. I can’t wait to take my wife to see the Grunion Run. I remember when I was a kid and the grunion just happened to be running at our week stay at the beach for our family reunion. Not sure of the beach. I will pick from your list, probably La Jolla Shores. Thank you again for helping me remember the Good Times. Sam

    1. Hi Sam! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I can not tell you how much I appreciate it. I too am planning to get out there one of these nights, but not sure which one. The last time I saw a grunion run, I was in high school. Have fun, and take lots of pictures!

  2. I am happy I found your site. I was just talking about the Grunions, but the closest I have been in the eponymous beer from Ballast Point. Thanks for the great info. I stumbled here after seeing a confusing house for sale at St. Malo beach (which you also cleared up).

  3. Thank you Colleen for this helpful article. Quick question- if we don’t see any grunion along the Oceanside beach by the pier during day 1 and day 2, does that mean they are not coming there at all for the four day run, or would they still come on day 3 and 4 after missing day 1 and 2? We were wondering whether to bother with trying again on day 3. Thanks,

    1. Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for commenting! I was wondering, did you stay for both hours? So, I took a look at the California Fish and Wildlife website, and it notes that the second hour of the Grunion Run is always better. Also, it states that the best runs occur in the 2nd and 3rd nights in a four-night period. I sure hope you see something tonight! You have motivated me to add this information to the post. Thanks again!

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