Fish on Land: Grunion Runs Rev up for 2021

Let the re-grunion-ing of the beaches begin: The silvery fishes'll soon shimmy onto our local sands, all to spawn, starting in the middle of March.

Steve Howard

What to Know

  • The 2021 Grunion Run opens on March 13
  • The silvery fishes spawn on a number of California beaches on particular dates during specific late-night windows
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife helms a page devoted to grunion information and facts

It's a cute coincidence that "March" and "much" sound a lot alike, but as coincidences go, this one is pretty satisfying, at least around Southern California.

For March has a lot of much-ness to it, in terms of what's happening in our wider and wilder world.

Poppies and other wildflowers often make a strong and stunning local showing during the third month, which also sees the start of Daylight Saving Time and the vernal equinox.

And the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano? That's another nature-focused tradition that many locals dearly love to see take wing.

But here's one for the ocean aficionados, the stroll-down-the-beachers who are always on the look-out for splendid and salty sights seen on the sand: The grunion are returning to the beaches of California, further adding to March's inherent muchness.

Day #1 on the 2021 Grunion Run roster? It's Saturday, March 13. The final day? The 25th of August.

As for the straight-from-the-bucket-list chance to see these small silver-bright fishes performing their eons-old spawning rite?

There's a lot to know about the runs, which only happen on particular days during particular late-night hours on particular beaches.

Also? There are open and closed seasons, and if you visit a grunion-laden beach during the open season, a license will be required to take the grunion by hand (age 16 and up).

The closed season? It's about "observation only," so plan to admire this amazing sight from a good, grunion-respecting distance.

Reading everything you need to know ahead of time at the grunion page overseen by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is essential. The department also has recommendations on social distancing and safety guidelines, should you call upon a beach where other grunion fans are stationed.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, long a grunion-watching go-to for Southern Californians, remains temporarily closed.

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