IMG_2886Last night (Thursday, Feb. 20th), I attended a surf fishing seminar at one of my favorite tackle shops, Sav On Tackle.  Since moving to West Covina (from Pasadena) a little over a year ago, Sav On has become my go to spot.  Manager, Roger Eckhardt Jr. is a friend and a great source of knowledge.  A panel of three Southern California surf fishing gurus: Ruben Ortiz, Robert Danelen, and Randy Toji were onhand to lead the discussion.  Combined, they tally 80 years of combined local surf fishing experience.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail of the full discussion.  We’ve covered a lot of the material already in our Surf Fishing 101 and 102 posts.  I’ll share some of the nuggets now.  I was lucky enough to win a guided trip with Robert, so I’ll do a full report of that day when it comes around…I might hold on awhile to take advantage of Robert’s expertise to help me knock off the elusive corbina from the Top 10 😉


(L to R) Robert, Ruben and Randy talk SoCal surf fishing

  • Going Light – Ruben and Randy are OC surf anglers.  The terrain down there is marked by gentle sloping, finer sand beaches.  They fish 4 lb for the most part and never use greater than 1/2 oz. of lead.  Robert is more Santa Monica/Malibu area and goes a little heavier (8lb, but still light lead) to account for rocks in the water, more gravelly beach, and bigger fish (like leopard sharks).  Ruben prefers bullet shaped (vs. egg shaped) lead (point pointing away from hook) because he thinks less grit gets in the hole that can grind away and weaken the line.
  • Rods – longer with fast tips, that shut down quickly.  Ruben is a Phenix Rods pro staffer so he recommended the Trifecta series of rods, but Robert said salmon/steelhead rods typify the action you are looking for in surf rods for Southern California.
  • Where and When? – all of them had general areas they are familiar with fishing, but all them said that spots move and you need to walk the beach and look for conditions.  One of the biggest things you are looking for is something different.  A big thing to look for is dark water that signifies a hole below where fish may be holding.  Robert advocates fishing incoming tides at first or last light.  Ruben recommends just fishing whenever you can saying, “There are always fish there.  Sometimes they bite better, but going when you can helps you learn how to fish all conditions.”  Randy likes to study the surf cams on Surfline to try and pick out spots to target when he gets to the beach.
  • Baits – Sand crabs are the best for everything.  Don’t hook them near the digger.  Gulp! sand worms or “crack” are the go to artificial (we knew this, but good confirmation).  Robert likes red for the northern LA beaches.  Use the short ones (they come in 2″ and 6″ sizes).  The big ones just get bit down until they are short.  Robert likes to wacky rig them vs. threading them on, feeling he gets better action/movement rigging them that way.  Steam mussels to help them stay on your hook better.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully, you gleaned a tip or 2 to try out this weekend.  Tight lines!




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