(L-R) Randy Toji, Robert Danelen, and Ruben Ortiz at Sav On in Santa Fe Springs


I went to this same seminar last year when I was just getting started with surf fishing.  The panelists, Randy Toji, Robert Danelen, and Ruben Ortiz have over a 100 years of surf fishing experience in Southern California between them.  I really enjoyed last year’s seminar and was lucky enough to win a guided trip from Robert.  Robert and I have since become friends and we fished a couple times together since last year.  It made a huge difference to be able to fish with Robert and have him point out what he was talking about live.  You can read all the info and try to relate it to what you see when you go out.  If you really want to speed the process along though, I’d highly recommend you go out and spend a day with Robert.  His contact info is below.

Anyway, a lot of what was covered has been previously covered in these pages.  I’ve linked the relevant surf fishing posts below:

I made a lot of progress in really what was only about 6 months of fishing on the sand (offshore hit early this year).  Now that we have more or less turned the corner on offshore, I’ll be getting back on the sand again.

There were a few nuggets I picked up from this seminar though, so I’ll share them with you…


Photo courtesy of NOAA

Rip Tides

One of things that they all stressed was to look for something different in the water.  Something that is different is a rip tide.

Identification: rip tides are when there is a current heading away from the shoreline in the midst of the incoming surf.  They happen most often on the outgoing tide.

A good thing to do anytime you surf fish is to take a moment before you get out to the wet sand and just kind of survey the conditions from afar.  From this perspective, you can easily identify a rip.  You’ll see the whitewater of the breaking surf and a section in between without the whitewater.  That’s what the lifeguards are looking for from their towers and it’s something you should look for too.

Safety: It’s less easy to see the rips when you get onto the wet sand.  The combination of the visual perspective and getting lost in just fishing make it tougher.  Always try to have situational awareness, be it other people on the sand, in the water, and whatever else is happening around you…including rips.  If you happen to get caught in one, don’t try to fight it by going straight back.  Make your way to the side to get out of the pull, then go back to the sand.  If you can, try to lift your reel above the surf, but getting back to safety should be your #1 priority.

Fishing: Just like you, the fish doesn’t want to fight for their life against the rip.  They’re by the beach to feed and trying to eat while expending the least amount of energy possible.  If you see a rip, fish are likely staging on either side of it looking to see what that outgoing current stirs up in the sand.  Fish the sides of the rip.


YFC on dropshot Gulp! shrimp

Winter Fishing

Sand crabs burrow further out this time of year, so it’s going to be harder to find them.  One thing you can do is target negative tides and go find them.  They keep pretty well if you keep them cool and in moist sand (not water).

The other thing you can do is fish artificials – grubs (motor oil, clear with red flake), Gulp sand worms aka “crack” (red or camo), Lucky Craft Flash Minnow, Krocodiles, small swimbaits, and Kastmasters (orange or blue with chrome).  They like using scent and recommended Pro-Cure in sand shrimp flavor.

Robert said that for where he fishes, primarily Santa Monica and Malibu, winter is all about surf perch.  For Randy and Ruben though who fish Orange County, yellowfin croaker are a great wintertime target.  They said to cast out to the second break away from the shore using the artificials.

Picture courtesy MexFish.com

Picture courtesy MexFish.com

Pregnant Surf Perch

Not so much now, but beginning in December and more so in January and February, barred surf perch and walleye surf perch are spawning.  Both species give birth to live young, so you need to be especially careful in handling them so as not to cause the fish undue stress.  You need to get them back in the water as quickly as possible.  If you are going to snap a pic, do it quickly.

Females can be identified by their straight anal fin.  Males will have a notch in their anal fin.  In addition, pregnant females will start to darken around their belly and anal fin.

All for now.  The beaches are a lot less crowded this time of year, so go enjoy fishing them.  Thanks again to the panelists.  If you would like to contact Robert and fish with him, email him at robert@danelen.com.  Thanks also to Sav-On Tackle and manager Roger Eckhardt for hosting the seminar.  I love this tackle shop.  You can find their website here and also on facebook.  Tight lines!








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