Have you heard of the Grunion Run in Long Beach? Wondering how to see the Grunion run? As a lifelong Long Beacher, I’ve got all the tips for attending this special event at the beach.
Growing up in Long Beach, the grunion run was a THING. Every summer, my Dad would look in the newspaper to see the dates and times that we could expect the grunion to be running. It meant a special night staying up late and getting a little messy. It was a super special night that didn’t come around often.
Luckily, the days of scouring the newspaper and crossing your fingers are over. Unfortunately, you’re still going to have to stay up pretty late and get a little wet and sandy for this beach adventure.
We’ll answer all your burning questions like, “when can I see the grunion run?” Or “what the heck is a grunion anyway?” So if you’re wondering, how to see the grunion run in Long Beach, we’ve got you covered!
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What ARE grunion?
Grunion are skinny little fish that wash up onto the beaches in California, late at night, to spawn. The females lay their eggs in the sand, and later, the young fish are swept out to sea. These 5 to 6 inch fish look very similar to sardines.
They’re not particularly special except for this cool creature feature that we’re lucky enough to get to witness.
When do the Grunion Run?
California grunion run in the late spring and early summer months two to six nights after a full moon or a new moon. Beginning soon after high tide, the grunion wash up on the beaches for several hours. Grunion ride the waves and swim up as far on the beach as possible before laying her eggs in the sand.
Peak spawning is from March to June, but you may get lucky and see the grunion in July or August. For a full schedule of the best days and times to see the grunion run, click here.
Where Should I Go to See the Grunion Run?
The grunion are known to run at several beaches up and down the Southern California coast. You can find them all the way from San Diego to San Louis Obispo. There are a few local beaches that are likely to have grunion running.
Seal Beach – Our beach neighbor to the south, Seal Beach is a great option with lots of easy access and parking.
Belmont Shore Beach – Lots of parking, but its a long haul from the car to the ocean. So be prepared to cover a lot of sand!
Long Beach City Beach – The south facing beach for which our city was named! Grunion can be found all over this long stretch of beach.
Cabrillo Ocean Beach – This beach is on the Ocean side of Cabrillo Beach Park. It’s very near the Cabrillo Tide Pools and the Cabrillo Aquarium.
Can You Catch Grunion?
In open season (March, July – September) you actually can catch grunion! A California fishing license is required for people 16 years or older. Grunion may be caught by hand only, which makes this a very wild (and fun!) activity for kids. You cannot, however, dig holes in the beach to try to trap the grunion.
Our recommendation is to not actually catch the grunion, and if you want to try to catch one, release it back into the ocean.
What Do You Need to Attend the Grunion Run?
The most important thing you need to attend the grunion run is a healthy spirit of adventure! But you’re also going to want to have a flashlight. This small waterproof flashlight is perfect for tiny hands, especially near the ocean.
If you plan to try to catch some grunion, bring a bucket to store them in. We love these collapsible buckets for easy storage in your trunk between uses. If you’re doing it for fun (like we recommend) fill your bucket with ocean water so you can keep the grunion, take a few pictures, and then release them safely.
Keep in mind that your kids will be walking – let’s be honest, running – across potentially damp sand in basically the middle of the night. So you might want to bring some towels and a full change of clothes in the car as well. We keep a quick dry microfiber oversized towel in our car that would be perfect!
Good Luck at the Grunion Run!
Now you have everything you need to have a successful grunion run. You only need one more thing – a little bit of luck! So good luck, and let us know in the comments if you were successful and where and when you saw the grunion!
Looking for more fun at the beach? Head here next!